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I was trying to make up my mind whether to use "Login" or "Sign In" in the project I am working on by going through various well known websites. In my project, user can log in using either Facebook or email id. I landed upon Duolingo's and saw this:

Now, what? Why not "Login with Facebook or Login using Facebook? Why have they used different terminologies to essentially depict one thing? Or am I missing something here?

  • What is your question here? is it a)Should I use Login or Signin? b)Why do Facebook say 'Login instead of Sign-in'? or c) should it be 'Login Using' or 'Login with'? You seem to be asking lots of things here but with no clear question. – JonW Mar 14 '15 at 13:05
  • I have deleted the thing about "using" and "with". My question does not concern with what Facebook uses rather what websites choose to use while using its name. – Mohit Mar 14 '15 at 13:24
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    possible duplicate of Using "Sign in" vs using "Log in" – tohster Mar 14 '15 at 16:14
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    They're using "Sign in" for the outside sites and "Login" for their site. Those are different actions. Are you sure you get the same features for both? – moot Mar 17 '15 at 8:45
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    If you go with "Sign In," make sure you don't use "Sign Up" for the registration link. They're too similar. – Ken Mohnkern Mar 17 '15 at 21:04

11 Answers 11

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This is more of a grammatical question than UX, but I think i have the answer you're looking for.

Login should be used as a noun, as in "use your login information to access our services". The example you provide actually incorrectly uses the word "login" in 2 locations (they should have separated it into 2 words - "log" and "in").

Don't ever use signin - not a word.

Log in and Sign in are both appropriate call to actions for this usage. Both are considered verbs when used in this context, prompting an action from the user. In my opinion, use log as opposed to sign. Hope this helps and that it was what you were looking for.

grammarist.com/spelling/log-in-login/

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    "Don't ever use signin - not a word" unless you're 'singin' in the rain. Erm. Sorry. – colmcq Mar 17 '15 at 15:42
  • To get a view of what terms are used in the wild, see Lee Munroe (2010 but still useful I think) leemunroe.com/login-vs-signin -- login is unfortunately reasonably prevalent. – Michael Heraghty Mar 20 '15 at 10:52
  • I once asked my word-geek friend who does tech writing, and she made the same point of clarifying the noun "login" vs the verb "log in". Use them correctly, and pick one "log in/log out" or "sign in/sign out" to stick with throughout your application. Her advice has served me well. – ph33nyx Mar 23 '15 at 21:00
6

This is generally just based on the user's preference, but I would say you would be better off using sign in, but be consistent.

You see, 'log in' does not generally mean enter the system with credentials, logically, while 'sign in' is more recognizable. Take for example you are going into a hotel, and you need to get a room. You use your credentials (Your ID, Credit/Debit card, etc) to get the room, and when you get to the front desk, they sign those credentials into the hotel's database/log. I may be the only one, but log in is generally more confusing, and does not make as much sense as sign in.

Then there comes consistency; you don't want to use something that is not widely used, as it will be overall more confusing and unacceptable compared to the majority of services. Take for example this chart:

Word used for entering system.

http://www.designcult.org/2011/08/why-do-we-call-in-logging-in.html ~ chart source

Quite easily, you notice that 'Sign In' is very much used, as opposed to log in, login, logon, or another word/phrase. This is generally leaning you in the direction to use Sign In because it will be something that people will recognize faster, and it just makes more sense generally and logically.

It is up to you in the end, but I would generally say that Sign In is the better option, given the fact that it has already found it's place in the computing world as the main way of saying 'enter the site/service here!', and it is more logical if you think about it.

I hope this helps, as it is more on the confusing part of UX design.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Do you have the reference for where the data that you provided came from (for an upvote)? Thanks. – Michael Lai Mar 19 '15 at 4:44
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Be Consistent

If you are leveraging Facebook then you want to align the labeling with that system. They use "Log In".

enter image description here

This is not so much a semantic issue as it is a design consistency issue. Users (should) understand that they need to enter credentials. Consistency is key to avoiding ambiguity and creating the appearance of a unified system - leading to your goal: getting the user past the Log In with as little friction as possible.

  • +1 for pointing out the user's goal - as little friction as possible. – virtualnobi Mar 18 '15 at 7:51
  • Actually, Facebook uses the term "login" as in "Login with Facebook" adn Google uses "sign in" as in "Sign in with Google+". And that's what the confusing part is when using both the providers. – VipulKumar Mar 19 '15 at 9:23
  • Thanks for the comment. I used the FB homepage as a guide. But then after looking at their docs ( developers.facebook.com/docs/facebook-login/overview/v2.2 ) seems they use 'Log In' and 'Login' interchangeably. Joy... – Ken Mar 20 '15 at 15:23
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What is the action that these verbs or phrases stand for? (Sometimes nouns are used, too.)

  1. Enter your personal credentials, including some unique ID like your email address or a user name and a password, to create a new local account (for FREEE!!) that somehow personalizes the site to your needs or gives you more rights, e.g. posting comments.
    • join; sign up; subscribe
    • buy membership, become a member, get your membership
    • try it; free trial; get involved
    • create account, create user, create profile
    • new user, new member, new author, new account, new profile
    • I’m new here
  2. Enter your personal credentials to activate your local account that was created earlier.
    • enter; log in (or login), log on; sign in, sign on; go in
    • my account, my profile, my Sitename_; account, profile; me, I
    • members area, members only, private area, protected area, pay area; intranet
    • Sitename Pro, Sitename Plus
    • personalize
    • let me in!
    • I’m a member, I’m a subscriber, I have a subscription
  3. Let the site access your global account so you do not need a local one. You may have to enter your credentials for the global identification service provider (Facebook, Google, Twitter; OpenID/OAuth …) if you are not permanently “on”.
    • sign in
    • auto login, quick login, shared login
    • authenticate
  4. Let the site use your public account to create a local account. (Beware of anti-patterns!)
    • sign up
    • connect, authorize
    • link account, share account
  5. Let the site use your public account to activate your linked local account.
    • sign in; log in
    • social login
    • authorize

So, for most cases, log in and sign in are either synonymous or not applicable. The exemption is 3., signing in with the help of third parties, where one should not use log in without qualifier. One might want to avoid such ambiguous terms which also sound very technical, but they are also so common users might expect them.

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Actual terms used is not important, the difference in terms indicate different workflow, namely "Authenticate" vs. "Trust"

A user is frequently already "Logged In" Google or Facebook accounts. As these accounts are already authenticated (i.e. you have proven who you are) then a user does not have to "Log In" again. All that is required is to tell Duolingo which account to trust.

Does using different terminology actually help the user? Possibly as the user will experience different flow, and are hinted they won't need to "Log In" to Google or Facebook accounts again.

1
+50

It strikes me that there has not been one answer to the question:

Now, what? Why not "Login with Facebook or Login using Facebook? Why have they used different terminologies to essentially depict one thing? Or am I missing something here?

I can only guess why they made this choice (you should ask them actually). But a good reason could be they wanted to distinguish the authentication method to the user.

Basically they are saying:

Log in (login) with your credentials, or sign in with Facebook or Google to automatically log in with us.

Something like that.

To answer the question which one to use: Use the one that fits the tone of the site, but more important is to use it consistently.

1

LoginOptions

Here are some options. I'm leaning towards the one on the right where flow of the eye goes from Login to With and then Or. This uses 1 terminology.

Even if one replaces Login with Sign In or Sign in, the option on the right still uses 1 terminology.

Here's a live example from the Stackexchange website

enter image description here

  • This doesn't appear to answer the question, even if it is a useful way to approach the design discussed. – doppelgreener Mar 18 '15 at 8:52
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In Designing the Moment (p32) Robert Hoekman writes:

You don't want users to "login." That makes no sense. You want users to log in...it's not a noun you want. It's a command.

His conclusion there is to use 'Sign in'.

Some sites that also use 'Sign in':

  1. iCloud
  2. Adobe
  3. Microsoft

iCloud Sign in element

Adobe Sign in menu item

Microsoft Sign in menu item

However...Twitter makes the distinction between 'Signing Up' and 'Logging In'. Perhaps the different terms help to differentiate the actions? I would think that the elements are distinct enough by themselves (colour, layout etc.). Using both terms apparently has its place, but I would suggest not in the example you gave where there doesn't seem to be a valid reason for mixing them.

enter image description here

  • Why down-vote? Please leave a comment! The answer provides credible and reliable sources. – shahar Mar 18 '15 at 18:14
  • +1 to cancel the down-vote for you. I thought it was good enough as an answer :) – Michael Lai Mar 19 '15 at 4:46
  • :) Much appreciated – shahar Mar 20 '15 at 1:08
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As a non-native speaker I always found the "Sign In - Sign Up" pair confusion. It makes me think, even after 10 years of living in english speaking I still have to pause for a split of a second to map them on the old Register and Login. On the other hand if one of the pair is either Register or Create account or something I don't need to think about the other verb.

I wonder if there is any research on how non-native speakers perceive this or of it is just my dyslexia.

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Highly the simple answer it lies with Content Strategy to define the term.

Difference between log in and Sign-in could be something System v Personified. So a system like intranet application in a retail store may say "LOGIN" to define it in line with all users are already tagged to the application, which exist in the database and always had to be logged in to use the system. Now if you would traverse into B2C sites the same login could be used in Banking applications where your usage will be recurring by getting you an account and more of approaching towards a system.

When its personified as what sign in means to be "sign-in on a register as arriving a hotel" (defined in dictionary). This is more often seen a one-time or sub-set of LOGIN (as found in Duolingo). Log in works to be paramount common term, but when invitation is more personified with a human touch it just means to be Sign-in.

Sign-in as a term evolved by simply signing up yourself in physical world for the service, which actually a metaphor versus in a digital world the log in is more attuned towards the system and creation of database.

So are there any differences between these two? Yes, only on softer aspects though both do the same job - whenever the usage is permanent, system driven, rigid, formal it takes the route of Login. While to entice users, greet, nudge, personalize or quite casual then the Sign in is commonly used. But it does not mean log in cannot be replaced in places of Sign in.

Examples could be if on a Banking or Trading site if had to use the term "Sign in" may be inappropriate vs. Social sites, Music channel etc.

It boils down to tone, voice that is intended for the context!

  • Can you back up your assertions that users might consider log in vs sign in to be different, and more or less formal or enticing or etc than the other? – doppelgreener Mar 18 '15 at 8:55
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Log in distinctively gives a feel of entering a computer or digital world. Wiki tells me, it started appearing in all bulletin boards around 1970. Probably then it made sense. Today this is not the case.

Internet and computer applications have become very common and day to day part of lives for many of us. As computers and internet became mainstream, we started to make it more friendly and approachable. A move from logging in which appears technical to a friendlier sign in, like in a hotel indicates the same.

As you are looking for studies and more credible sources, Homepage Usability by Jakob Nielsen (together with Marie Tahir, 2002, p. 53) has more information. Another answer has already pointed that out.

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