I have a website where there are two different kinds of accounts:

  • Student: a student, once logged in, can do math quizzes
  • Educator: an educator, once logged in, can view various details about the students they have. They can also register new students, enroll students in courses etc. An educator cannot take any quizzes.

Each student account is associated with one educator account, and an educator can have more than one student.

The current login page has two forms side-by-side. One is for students and one is for educators.

The problem is that many people log in as educators and cannot find how to do quizzes. They explore the website and then finally email me that they cannot do the quizzes. It seems like the user-interface of my website could be better.

I have thought of combining the login forms into one form and forcing the user to select how they want to log in (by radio buttons or similar). But I am not sure if that is going to solve the problem at hand.

Are there any better ways of presenting the login form so that people coming to my website are not confused?

Edit: as more than one answer suggested this, I am further clarifying the question.

First, it is easy to detect whether someone logged in as an educator or as a student (we already do that when we show them different interfaces after they log in). The problem is about user expectation. Let us say that a person E wants their student, S to do quizzes. They sign up for an account, creating two accounts: one for E, and one for S. Then, when they log in as E, they can add S to various courses, track S's progress, etc. When S logs in, or when E logs in as S and then gives the computer/device to S, S can do quizzes.

Now, the problem happens if E logs thinking that they would let S do the quizzes. They don't see any place to do the quizzes since they are logged in as E.

Since the website is meant for elementary school kids, most of the times it's educators logging in for the students and then having the students do the quizzes. So, for all practical purposes, the educator is in control of logging in as two users.

  • Why make login so complicated? Log them in as who they are and then have the system figure out what they are.
    – uxzapper
    Jul 7, 2013 at 2:01
  • @uxzapper The problem is that it is even more confusing then. People will log in as educators and then complain that they can't do the quizzes. Right now, many of the users see two login forms and figure out who to log in as. It's not perfect (hence the question), and I am trying to find a better way for those people to log in. Jul 7, 2013 at 2:22
  • 1
    @user2552097 I think you misunderstood what zapper said. He meant, why do you need the user to select who they are (student/educator)? Let the user log in and get the system to decide whether they are an educator or a student and give them the needed access.
    – rk.
    Jul 7, 2013 at 3:07
  • Also, have a look at a similar question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/41094/…
    – rk.
    Jul 7, 2013 at 3:10
  • I see that your Sign up page currently has both forms available, but only one Register button.. Does this mean you need both forms to be filled up for someone to register? If not, have a look at my answer.
    – SNag
    Jul 7, 2013 at 4:43

6 Answers 6


As more of your users are students (hence they make more errors) it's could be good to have default login form for them. To stress this fact it's better to replace label Username to Student name in the form.

Educators' login form should be separated, it could be on the same place, turning on with command link.
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The idea is to minimize action efforts and errors for prevalent user group but switch easilly to another group.

  • Thanks! I already have the default focus on the student login, but I think the points you make are really helpful and will help the few users who get confused in a clean and obvious way. Jul 7, 2013 at 8:11
  • I like this idea the most so far, in addition to the "obvious message" method that @ColinSharpe suggested. Thanks! Jul 7, 2013 at 20:34

Just have one login page and allow for username or email to trigger success on password match. Accounts will be unique whether they are student or educator. Having two forms is a bit confusing and having one form use email and another use username could cause serious problems for people too.

As for the sign up process, you could also provide a more detailed flash message on sign up success, something like:

You have signed up as a student, meaning you have access to X, Y and Z, 
Is this correct? <link>switch account type to educator</link>

Make the message nice and clear so the user sees it, maybe with an exclamation mark to get attention and a dismiss button

A final note ... is your system open to the general public to sign up? If it's an internal system targeted at a specific subset of users, such as a college faculty, maybe parsing a spreadsheet of staff and students and emailing out their login details should be considered?

in response to question edit ...

Maybe your system should allow for an educator to be able to access all the login protected pages, including any page for any student they have added Then if the educator was sat with one of their students preparing to take a test they could just tell the system that Student A is taking this test (extra form field only shown to educators on the test for example). The student account could still be fully updated from this position as it would be if they were logged in.

Secondly, you could remove the public facing sign-up form for students altogether and just have educators create accounts as required when they acquire new students.

  • About the first part, please see my edit. About the second part: no one can just sign up as a student. A student is always associated with an educator and an educator can add more than one student to their account. The system is open to public. Further, the students are elementary school kids and educators are usually their parents. Jul 7, 2013 at 8:22

Different login pages. For Students. For Educators.

We do this on Careers 2.0 by having the homepage login take you to the "candidate" create account page, and the login on the /employers site take you to the "employer" create account page.

Our system isn't perfect, but it helps us do a few nice things:

  1. We rarely have people confused about where they are supposed to sign in or sign up.
  2. We're able to have different login/create account experiences. (Example: OpenID is hidden on the employer login pages because they have no idea what OpenID is)

Our system is a bit different than yours since the accounts aren't different until they do something (buy a job listing or create a cv) to distinguish an employer from a candidate. Still, I'd predict two well labeled links to two different pages would cut down on your user's confusion significantly.

  • Interesting - I will try this out. This might actually work (sorry, can't up vote until I get 15 points). Jul 7, 2013 at 2:23
  • +1, I like the separation of pages based on functionality. Thanks! Jul 7, 2013 at 20:36

It's not about logging in as a student or as an educator it's about SIGNING UP as a student or an educator. You must ask them on the signup page, what they want to do. To make it a little more user friendly you can include something like this while they are signing up :


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Then once they have signed in you can show what they are along with " Welcome, Username!" hope that helps

EDIT : Make it a little more user friendly

  • 1
    Please see my edit. As mentioned in it and in some other comments, I really am creating two accounts at sign up time: one for the educator and one for their student. Jul 7, 2013 at 8:25

Now, the problem happens if E logs thinking that they would let S do the quizzes. They don't see any place to do the quizzes since they are logged in as E.

Could you please tell, in your web-application, how the educator (E, for example) selects the student (S, for example) to do the quiz?

As far as I understand you must be displaying a list of students signed-up under E:

  • On selecting 'S' and clicking on button 'Do Quiz': Student selection GUI

  • Display the login form to 'Login as S' Form to login as 'S'

  • Hi, currently there is no way to "switch" to a student login while logged in as an educator. One has to log out, and then log in as a particular student to do the quizzes. But this does give me an idea: add a link "Do quizzes" or similar for an educator login, and then give them a choice of students to do the quizzes as. Jul 7, 2013 at 20:38

Have a drop-down/radio option/tab or similar to let the user decide at Sign Up time whether he's registering as Student or Parent. (If you want to prevent students from registering as parents, that's a whole other question!)

Have just a single login form. Since usernames/emails are unique, your system should have no trouble deciding if the candidate is a student or parent during login.

(BONUS: In your particular case, I see that you're using usernames for students and emails for parents during login. All you would need to do is check if the username is in email format or not during login, and if not, it's a student.)

  • Unless there's a restriction like "no @ in usernames", you can only tell that something is not a parent username but not the other way around. Jul 7, 2013 at 7:28
  • Please see my edit. At sign-up time, an educator will create one student account (they can create more student accounts later if they wish). So, every sign up creates two accounts: one for the educator and one for their student. The problem is that some educators then login as themselves when they want their student to do the quizzes. Jul 7, 2013 at 8:24

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