I am working on a system where the administrators can add information about potential users. So a user can exist without even knowing it.

Current Login:

Current login - regitered by someone else

At this moment there is an extra input field (see above) to check if someone registered you already. This seems rather clumsy to me. This is actually the first step of the registration progress in case the email is not yet known, wich seems even clumsier to me. Also the field doubles as a "forgot my password" field. This might seem handy from a developers perspective, but I think UX-wise it is not working. If only because nobody uses this pattern and it will confuse people rather than help them.

I am thinking of incorporating the "email lookup" functionality in the standard login / register form; If someone enters an email that is registerd (but not activated) he gets an immediate inline notification.

What are your thoughts on this?

2 Answers 2


A few companies such as Amazon and Google (login pages linked) have the user start with their email before anything else, then take action afterwards. To apply this to your situation:

  1. User enters their email (only field available at start)
  2. If registered, prompt them to enter their password, then login.
  3. If registered but not activated, prompt them to complete registration.

If they fail to login in case 2, you could reveal a "forgot my password" button.

  • 1
    Thanks. I will take a furher look into this. The way Google handles it seems elegant enough. The way Amazon goes about it always kind of bothered me. It seems a bit unnatural to me. Jun 5, 2015 at 7:52
  • @J.T.Houtenbos Yeah, Amazon's is a bit clunky now that you mention it. But ever since Google switched to their current method, my Google Apps sign-in for a University email became much less confusing.
    – Alan
    Jun 5, 2015 at 12:14
  • 1
    I put an example online. It is based on the above mentioned Google example: halloijburg.nl/login_01.vm It is just to test the 3 possible flows: 1. Registered user - [email protected] 2. Registered, but not activated - [email protected] 3. Unknown user - enter anything / or nothing to test Let me know what you think. Jun 5, 2015 at 14:42
  • @J.T.Houtenbos Looks nice, and I bet will work well. This might be a bit off-topic, but since you asked for my opinion... The sign-in box seems a little out of place with the amount of elements on the upper half of the page. You might want to revise that a bit to make it seem more natural.
    – Alan
    Jun 5, 2015 at 16:30
  • thanks for having a look at it. I also think it needs some revising, but I feel I am on the right track now. Thanks again. Jun 8, 2015 at 9:57

How large is the database? Is it small and well defined enough that you could run an AJAX search as soon as the user defocusses the email field in the register form?

Alternatively, as soon as the user starts adding content to the register email field you could offer them a button right next to the field that they can click to see if that address is pre-registered.

Just a couple of suggestions!

  • Well the database could grow quite large - it is a community platform. Thanks for the suggestions. Jun 5, 2015 at 8:07

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