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Over the past few months I've noticed a lot of big name websites that seem to trivialize the "Sign In" design in comparison to the "Sign Up" design, which is much more centrally located, and usually also has something to make it visually stand it (most often being a large, different colored button).

The scenario that seems to often happen is that an user is operating on instinct and habitually clicks on the button, but has to traverse back and then attempt to locate the sign in option somewhere. Though small, this can be an annoying and frustrating to a regular/frequent user. Evernote is one example of what I'm trying to describe. The Sign Up button is pretty big and catches my sight immediately, and I tend to habitually click on it. But when I traverse back, I immediately tend to go towards top right (where Sign In is usually located) only to not find it and then browse the home page for another another second or two before finally finding it.

Is this an user experience trend that is based off the fact that regular users have "learned" where to go to sign in and it's such a small price to pay for more users to sign up that it's worth the trade off? Or is this just an unusual example? Yelp seems to have the same trend going on but it's at least in the top right corner.

tl;dr: Why is it that there isn't equal weight in "Sign In" and "Sign Up" designs?

  • It has become the other way around these days. I wonder why – Abdul Wasae Jan 23 at 4:37
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> 100% of the users will use the Sign Up page.
This includes all of the actual users as well as those who decide not to register, but may change their mind later.

< 100% of the users will use the Sign In Page.
Once registered, it takes action on the part of a user to sign out of things like Evernote or Tumblr or Twitter. You remain logged in, so each visit bypasses the Sign In page.

Many sites have simply invested more effort into attracting new customers than into polishing an infrequent use case.

Contrast this with a banking website where the log out is an automatic security feature, so more effort is spent making the Sign In page smooth and efficient as well as secure. The percentages above are actually reversed for banking site as the user may have "registered" via a teller at their local branch rather than on the site itself.

A cynical person might also consider that many services do not want you to log out, and may make the process of signing in difficult or unpleasant to discourage you from logging out next time.

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With "Sign Up" you address new users that don't know the ui yet – with "Sign In" you address returning users that might already know their way…

Also: once you've signed in (and stay signed in) the annoying "Sign Up" button is gone. Could be, that this way companies try to make people stay signed in.

(I personally don't like this approach and would probably rather design both more or less the same)

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"Sign up" gets so much visual weight because it's really important for every business, including Evernote, to convert new visitors into users. "Sign up" CTA is the most important element of this page (of this whole site) and nothing should distract users from this, even some slightly more prominent design of the "Sign in".

"Sign in" is so close to "Sign up" because users without spatial memory (thing that makes you look for it in the top right corner) will naturally look for it near the "Sign up", as those two are very close semantically.

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In addition to Nathan Rabe's answer it is also a trend for services that rely mostly on apps. It could even be possible that they want to discourage the use of the site to promote the use of the app, but that's just a thought.

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