I am building a site and was thinking about if there should be a signup option at all.

I found the question about the difference between sign up and log in with Facebook/Google/etc but there was neither an accepted answer nor enough responses.

What is the advantage of having to signup using Facebook/Google in the first place? As I see it, a direct login simply would imply checking if the email exists in your database and if not add that info. Since, this would be just a one time operation, I don't believe that a one time insert would take too much time or ruin user experience. Am I wrong on this part?

Then I see many major sites including SO using the signup with Google etc. so there must be something to signup before login.

Can somebody please explain why to sign up users at all?


10 Answers 10


However it might be done, logging in and signing up are two different things. The sign up path is almost certainly more complex than the login path, regardless of whether social login or a more traditional login are used.

These crucial differences are not negated just because the technology allows the process to be done in one click.

For example, you may want to do / get your user to do the following on sign up that you wouldn't do on login:

  • agree to your sites terms and conditions
  • enter one off data, such as a date of birth, or consent to your using of such data
  • give them a sign up bonus
  • redirect them to incomplete profile elements
  • pick an image, perhaps from their available social media image uploads, this they might like to repeat again later, but it's not something that would occur on every login

Social signups also give you access to your users social data, which you can't just take without explicit consent - we are all familiar with the 'this app would like access to your x, y and z do you agree?'. You might be able to take the data without them entering it, but you cannot do this (I am not a lawyer, but I have a feeling this would actually be illegal wihtout consent).

Login on the other hand, if done with social accounts, should be one click and in (assuming they are signed into their account of course). As smooth as possible for the user.

Stack Exchange is a perfect example of this. Clicking on a new Q&A site prompts you with a set of social logins, choosing one of which leads you to a reminder that they will use your email address for communication, where as login with a social login just clicks you straight in.

Having said all this, it's perfectly reasonable to have one button: 'connect with facebook' for example; and have your code notice if this is a first time login and follow the sign up path but from the users perspective these paths must be kept distinct.

  • please let me know if I got the gist right. Even if I use a single button to signin (no signup using google), I should let users know this is their first sign in and what info I intend to take from them. Then proceed to direct login flow every time after that.
    – nxshar2
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04
  • yes, from the users perspective they are two separate paths, how you implement this technologically is up to you, but they are not the same thing and can't be fully merged
    – Toni Leigh
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 11:35

We used social plugin for couple of our products for login.

To answer your first question, the simple advantage is that the user need not enter his credentials every time he/she signs in to your app. Most of the times the user is already logged into FB / google etc and can use the same to sign into your app too.

A large percentage of users turn away when they have to fill a form to sign up. The conversion rate of the visitors to users is more if you have a social sign in since it is hassle free and needs hardly any time to get registered and start using your app.

Also if you have a form for the user to sign up, you also need to confirm the credentials entered by the user to avoid mis-use of the app and faulty scripts ran which create million users flooding your database.

In the above case, if you would have used social sign up, google / FB etc takes care of confirming the user.

  • 1
    my question is more on why have "sign up with google" at all. why not only keep "log in with google"
    – nxshar2
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 6:21
  • Not needed. I prefer having "Login with Google". That suffices and easy to understand. "Sign up with Google" is more confusing.
    – ramya
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 6:25
  • I agree but then when i look around even sites like SO have seperate "sign up with google" and "sign in with google". Just want to check if there's any details we might be missing.
    – nxshar2
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 6:29
  • please see my answer, there are some details missed @NaveenSharma :-)
    – Toni Leigh
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:13
  • I think both paths are the same, it just depends on which path you're taking (as the user) which will affect the jargon used. If you're going to sign up, then it will say "Sign up with social network here", but if you go to login, it will say "Login with social network here."
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 15:02

There are many reasons why you need to signup users.

Perhaps one of the most important ones is to collect their data (name, email, etc). You can monetize these data later sending email offers, showing targeted content, enhancing their user experience etc.

If you use a social login (Facebook, Google+) you have multiple additional benefits, for instance:

  • Easier sign up experience - Most users are constantly logged in on Facebook or Google+. So they will need just one click to sign up to you website. As a result, you will increase the number of registered users;
  • Collect advanced demographic data - Not only name and email but also (potentially) age, sex, likes, groups, etc.;
  • Expand your audience thanks to Facebook comments and sharing;
  • Increase you SEO ranking thanks to Google+ sharings.
  • Personalized Online Experiences for the users, that often result in longer visits and higher conversion rates. The Betapond study found 86% of ecommerce sites using Facebook Connect requested permission to access the friend list, but only 31% requested access to Likes, and 17% to interests.

On Socialmediaexaminer you can find a list of benefits, the most important are:

  1. Rapid signup/user adoption: People won’t need to type a thing, they’ll simply grant your system access to their existing credentials.
  2. Photo integration: Social networks allow you to import the photograph of the user into your system immediately.
  3. Email contact: Many social networks allow you to pull in contact details from the user (such as an email address), making it very easy to allow you to communicate with users.
  4. Spam reduction: Because social networks authenticate individuals and generally don’t allow multiple accounts, the likelihood of false identities and spammers goes down.

This article gives additional reasons:

  1. Erradicate password failure - 40 percent of online shoppers use the “Forgot Password” feature at least once a month. Almost 92% of shoppers abandon a website rather than going through the process of recovering account information, if they’ve forgotten their passwords.
  2. Get (more) honest customer data - 88 percent of customers admit they’ve lied on an online registration form. When users sign in using an existing social media profile, there’s a much higher likelihood that the data is truthful.
  3. Target your offers correctly - According to a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom, while 57 percent of customers find it very useful to receive targeted promotions and deals from brands, 96 percent report receiving offers that are mistargeted. Using social data you can target (and re-target) offers correctly.

Hope it helps :)


You aren't missing anything here. It's just a pure play of behavioural understanding of users. SO thinks that people who come to their platform are Regular(and Experienced) Internet users and hence they ought to be familiar with the concepts and differences of SIGNUP and LOGIN.

SO must have been thinking that if they skipped/hid SIGN UP SOCIAL labels, users might get confused as they won't find option of signing up with google/facebook which is supposedly against their construct.

I'm of the opinion of moving completely away from the concept of LOGGING IN. We should be thinking about alternate ways of IDENTIFYING users than this decade old technology.


Let's tackle this from two sides:

1: On the perspective of Design:

It provides options to the registering user. By having social plugins used for form completion and account registration, the user can expedite the process and the site can drive more turnovers/accounts by doing so. Its an easy solution to a common problem: Driving Usability.

2: On the perspective of Software Architecture:

The developers have less data to store for each account. Most social websites provide SHA-256 bit level encryption for their user accounts. As such, in order to save an account on a database, one needs to only store an email/username and the SHA-256 key. Anything else beyond that is purely based on the needs of the website.

Scenario: Is "Login with Google" better than "Sign Up with Google"?

Neither case is ok. The reason for this is purely semantics. Saying Login with Google infers that the users account already exists with the service. In some cases, this is not true. As such, providing a Sign Up With Google button is needed.

However, the better alternative to this puzzle would be to simply say "Sign In with Google". By doing so, we allow the interpretation to sway both ways.

The Solution:

Just say "Sign In with Google" (or whatever social site is being used). If no account exists, then it will run them through the usual OAuth authentication process for account verification. Otherwise, the user will proceed right along to the service.

Examples sites that use Sign In vs Sign Up:




I think it's because there are two different data sources.

Your Google information does not automatically show up on SO database, you have to be placed in there. By signing up, you create the instance of the user, and by doing it through Google, you are just moving your data to SO's. Then you sign in through Google, using the connection you established when you signed up between the Google data and the SO data.


Registration is only necessary if there is functionality or data associated with a logged in segment of users. For example, if you want to keep track of and persist a user's preferences or interaction on the site for the purpose of informing them later. You can track both of these for yourself without the need for a particular user registering.

3rd party logins (Facebook, google, twitter, oauth etc) vs. normal login (email + password) in terms of conversion truly depends on quite a few factors. Here are a couple:

  • User Experience during registration -- simply put if the experience you build is well done or not OR if you are requiring a user to input a lot of information manually, this could be a turn off.
  • Demographic / Referral Source: if 90% of your users are being referred from Facebook, then they MAY be predisposed to signing in with Facebook. On the other hand if your website is a financial institution a Facebook login may not be the best method of registration given users generally perceive Facebook with sharing and not with private information.

3rd Party logins also give you the ability to aggregate more data. e.g. Facebook's scope permissions here. You are able to scrape and save some of this data for later uses.

Technically speaking, there is some more overhead for doing additional logins, but generally speaking if you are going to implement Facebook, Twitter, google login, etc, you are covering the backend technical requirements for just a normal login as well, so I would suggest it is in your interest to implement both IF your are going to do 3rd party, and then tracking whta your conversion is.


I think a simple 'Sign In' gives you many more advantages. When its time for adding a mobile app, authenticating users through Google+ sign-in is easy. For users, its easier to remember that they just 'signed-in' for this app, so there is no confusion about remembering additional usernames etc.

Major social sites are advocating a 'sign-in' as well, for example:




In case you want the user to sign-up to your service/ feed and fill in details about him/ her self, then using the term sign-up can be used.

Rather than using 'sign-in' or 'sign up', many apps 'use continue with' as seen here ux archive

The link should give you some inspiration on what works as it contains some of the most widely used apps along with screenshots of the same.

Hope this helps



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I think you're looking at this the wrong way; It's less about the overall time consumption (because the difference, if done correctly, will be almost not so different). As mentioned by other people, having the social login will allow people to have less accounts to deal with (to remember a new password, to remember to delete, etc).

Both are viable, because you have people who don't mind having social networks gain access to sites, while others who don't mind having an additional account to remember. The reason why you have both is because it allows both groups of users the freedom to choose, no matter what their mindset is.

As the admin, both will work just as fine. If I remember correctly, you still gain some access to their social network profile, so it won't make much of a difference. This is more about what the users want and less about what the "higher ups" of a company want.

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