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enter image description hereCurrently our navigational header is mostly left side and central of page, account is on upper right. A proposed design shows the account moved down, into the main nav bar. There's some space in between account and the nav elements, but not too much.

A few initial thoughts:

  1. Real estate issues with length of name and navigational elements
  2. Creates visual problem for user - having it upper right (or left) visually shows IA, this would not.
  3. What I've seen is that the upper right or left placement of login/account is conventional. In line with navigational elements is not. Only site I've seen that does this is Amazon.com... but then again, it's Amazon.
  • Do not forget that in Amazon website login is also a dropdown menu with navigation purposes. It makes perfectly sense in main nav element. If in your site it's just a link to login page then I'd avoid it unless you (your designer) have a stronger evidence of its benefits (well not just aesthetic). – Adriano Repetti Jul 29 '15 at 8:47
  • Thank you. I've added an image to give you a better idea – Melanie O'Donnell Jul 30 '15 at 17:47
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Advantages of keeping account/login in the top upper-right

  • It's a very strong convention. Everyone who uses websites is going to be looking for it in the top bar on the right--don't disappoint them! (Check out Don't Make Me Think if you haven't already, it's required reading for UX IMO.)
  • It preserves visual hierarchy. Logging in is a global thing--you're not logging in to the content underneath the bar, you're logging into everything. So put it at the very top, above everything else.
  • It's easier to build and maintain. What if, someday in the future, you decide you want to build a page without a sub-header? Will you have to find a new spot for the login just for that page? Or not have a login on that page at all?

Advantages of moving it anywhere else

  • ...can't think of any :)
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A little background information may be in order. Is this a site where a majority of the users will need to log in?

If so, you'd probably want the button in the utility area, since you have more white space there to make it stand apart from the rest of the header.

  • Thanks Tim. Yes, the site requires login for majority of our users. – Melanie O'Donnell Jul 30 '15 at 17:45
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Advantages

  • Users will realise immediately that this site uses authentication, saved sessions and possibly benefits behind such login.
  • Can easily be replaced by login/account links and information when the user logs in, which can be seen on all pages and give easy access.
  • Provides a better hook for users to want to be registered as soon as they visit the website. Not as much as a full page stating "Please login to view this", but definitely useful to a smaller degree.

Disadvantages

  • Takes a fair bit of screen real estate, usually in good advertisement locations.
  • Might be confusing to new users if you don't offer a register option relatively close to the login form. "Where can I register? I don't have an account so why is it asking me to login!"
  • If your website doesn't use user experiences heavily, this may be redundant space if a user doesn't really expect to be logged in every visit.

It depends on the flow of your website/application. If users are your entire concept, let them login with a heading/inline form, which can then be hidden by one or a few lines of text with who you're logged in as.

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