This question is geared for a line of business application someone would pay for, not a general public facing website.

Is it better to redirect for authentication/re-authentication or show a pop-up?

Some things to consider:

  • They may be on a screen with data already entered.
  • They may be in the middle of a work-flow, step 2-10.

4 Answers 4


Is it necessary to interrupt the user while they're in the middle of something? I think it would be better to wait until the current step is done. Two ways you can do that:

  1. Wait until they submit the form. Require authentication on an interstitial page, before continuing to the next step.

  2. Add the authentication to the bottom of the form.


Talking from experience - it's definitely better to show a pop-up.

  • The user won't lose the current data, context, etc.
  • In effect without authentication, the user can't continue working, so the pop-up won't bother them, quite the contrary - the earlier they get a warning about it the better.

By redirect I guess you mean changing the content of the current window, right?

  • If yes, then the user might lose context and data.
  • If no (i.e. open a new window), then it might allow the user to continue working, but since that work is not saved anywhere, the more prominent the warning the better.
  • 2
    Perhaps even more important than "The user won't lose the current data, context, etc." is that the user will not have to worry that he is going to lose data etc.
    – jensgram
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 14:06

As you pointed out, in a data centric app the user may be in middle of something and redirecting would not be good. In such a case a popup is nice.

StackExchange sites redirect but still save the form info, This is also an option to consider.


It's better to redirect in a polite way. maybe you can save data entered by user, tell them they need to sign in again and then redirect them to login page. after their successful authentication, redirect them back to the state they were, and reload data. you should keep your login page small in size and without anything attractive.

It's better than a Pop-Up if you really mean it! don't use pop-up nowadays. If you mean modal boxes, Users may find it distracting.

But the best solution is not forcing them to sing in at the middle of their work. show them a sign in page at first before anything done, or when they are finished with it. if you work with sessions and they expire on the middle of the work, they try to optimize the expiration time.

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