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On an informational/forum website (say, similar to a StackExchange site), is it necessary to show a "login successful" message?

Clarification: On the site in question, the users can log in by clicking a "log in" button in the header. This reveals a small panel (overlaying the existing page) where they can log in. Once logged in, the "log in" button becomes a "log out" button in the header. The user never sees a dedicated "log in" page, per-se. The images below depict the current experience, which I think is along the lines of what Adriano Repetti has described in his answer:

The "Log In" button appears when not logged in

This box appears when the user clicks the "log in" button

When user is logged in, the "log out" button is shown

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    just a comment: I would change the logout button to red. So it reads green to enter and red to exit – Matías Cánepa Sep 10 '15 at 12:57
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    Good point @Matías, and I suppose another benefit in the change in button color that would accompany the log in/log out action would be the "subtle visual cue" to indicate the change in authentication state. Perhaps red is not the right color though? Doesn't red typically signal that some error has occurred? – GWR Sep 10 '15 at 13:03
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    I don't think so, you could also use a red button for a delete action. So I think the context in which is used may signal an error has ocurred or not. In this particular case I believe it is safe to use red. – Matías Cánepa Sep 10 '15 at 13:12
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    @Izam They can still read "login" / "logout" text change – Matías Cánepa Sep 10 '15 at 13:24
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    Avoid the red. Extrapolating from the small clip we're seeing, I assume the page will look like a greenish UI with a distracting red button in the corner. – Ken Mohnkern Sep 10 '15 at 13:35
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Let me post an answer contrary to existing ones. A "login successful" message is not just unnecessary but it's also wrong.

Why Unnecessary

Think if objects/devices you use in everyday life will give you feedback each time you use them: "OK, you're using right key, you can turn the car's engine on", "Welcome back Adriano, this is your house", "Your PIN is correct, press OK to do what you expected to do", "Unlock gesture was right, swipe again to unlock the screen", and so on...

Count how many sites/applications confirm a successful login: to log-in is part of workflow. Unless you give a confirmation message for each step then you do not need an (unmotivated) exception. Established behavior is - even alone - a reason strong enough, unless there is a well-recognized need (see notes).

It's now trendy (when technically feasible) to even avoid confirmation messages, favoring more subtle feedback in conjunction with an undo functionality. If confirmations can/should be avoided then this argument is even stronger for non-functional informative messages.

On the other side, of course, we expect an error page/message in case of errors.

Keep notifications for what really matters because it may fail or if you do not have any other PERMANENT feedback of their result (when application state is clearly changed - and it MUST be clear when you're logged in - message is just redundant).

Standalone Login Page

It's unnecessary because, when the operation completes successfully, you move from the login page to another page. It's what we expect, with no need for confirmation.

EDIT: after your edit this paragraph doesn't apply anymore, just ignore it in your specific case (however next one is specific); I keep it here for the general discussion.

Popup Login Form

This is true even when the login form is not a standalone page but a simple popup.

Usually the control where you interacted to open the login form will change to show you're now logged in. In this case you may consider a subtle animation to give a feedback however (I say even if it's obvious) visible application state has to change to always remind users they're logged in.

What do do to make clear you're logged in can be a topic for another question, you may change your top bar (if any), change your login button to become logout (but it has to be clearly different without being visually prominent), use (in addition) a different color scheme (carefully!) or...anything else according to your site design.

Why Wrong

It's wrong because it's unnecessary (and we want to keep our interface simple). Moreover, unnecessary messages slow down UX experience, break workflow and reduce user attention to meaningful messages (errors, alerts or important notifications).

It doesn't matter how you show them (message box, dismissable box, popup or toast) -- if it's unnecessary it's also annoying and redundant.

Notes

When (for critical operations or access to sensible/reserved information) there is a multi-step login process then you should have a clear standalone page to inform the user that they are logged in and can now access reserved data and/or be able to perform dangerous operations.

Text Vs Something Else: if the purpose is to give feedback then text is worse than other options. With text you need to read but the message is simply a confirmation of something you already know. This kind of informational messages should be used sparely otherwise users will simply ignore them all.

Exactly same reasoning may be applied to logout. Unless there is a special reason then no message is required. Also note that logout control may be more prominent if you want to remember your users to perform logout.

In your screenshot I see "sign up" and "log in" fields, if your audience isn't only English native speakers you may consider to use a different wording (see also What is the difference between "sign in" and "log in" and how websites choose one VS. the other?).

  • What you are describing here is similar to the experience I am currently working with (and I have posted edits to the question above to illustrate). I am in agreement with you in that less is more, and that less (unnecessary) reading is key. – GWR Sep 10 '15 at 12:32
  • I saw your edit, in that page I'd just consider to add some subtle animation (or whatever your current design uses to give feedback for changes) to highlight transition in that button after login. Well I'd also consider to make it more visually different, not just text content but - for example - color AND layout. If its only purpose is log-out I'd also make it less visually prominent. – Adriano Repetti Sep 10 '15 at 13:07
  • "you move from the login page to another page" Your assertion here is incorrect from my reading of the question. Does that change your answer any? – jpmc26 Sep 10 '15 at 23:07
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    @jpmc26 yes, it has been added in a later edit but everything else still applies (anyway I did edit answer it clear). My main point is "it's redundant then useless. Because it's useless it's annoying, it breaks my workflow and if application is polluted with annoying messages I'll end up ignoring important ones". – Adriano Repetti Sep 11 '15 at 6:44
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More than necessary, I think the word is convenient or recommendable. and of course, the message or its phrasing doesn't need to be the one you mention, as long as there's a clear indication of a change of status.

The change of status is obviously the difference between logged and no logged, and it can be represented by messages (like yours), change of layout or even animations. Or a combination of one or more of these techniques. However, nothing communicates things better than... saying the exact words without any room for interpretation

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    In my opinion "more" is not "better". Each operation should give exactly required feedback. No more, no less. If logged in status is clear in your UI (and it MUST be) then you don't need anything else (at maximum a subtle animation to highlight this change). Text is not better (IMO) and it's even worse because forces you to READ IT (no mention if you even have to dismiss such notification). – Adriano Repetti Sep 10 '15 at 12:09
  • I agree with @AdrianoRepetti, I think it is unnecessary to show login successful messages. If it is a multi page application that required me to login before redirect I expect the "success" message to be the redirect to the page I requested. If it is a single page application or I am remaining on the same page I expect the "log in" to be replaced with "log out" or my account picture, and perhaps some toolbar options to appear, etc. Nothing more. To me the lack of error message is the success message. – DasBeasto Sep 10 '15 at 12:15
  • First of all, I mentioned all the scenarios. It's nice that Adriano wants to extend my answer and give his own interpretation, Curiously what I mentioned above: LEAVE NO ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION proves my point. I failed to communicate my thoughts and left this open. Second, I'm basing this on observation of hundreds of apps: most of the times, the non-logged status is communicated by lack of options (user can't do something). So, we are dealing with a situation where you communicate affordance by absence. I'd rather let user know what's going on than to wait for him/her to realize it – Devin Sep 10 '15 at 15:00
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    @Devin maybe I misunderstood your answer but I don't want to extend it because I don't agree with "More than necessary, I think the word is convenient or recommendable." and "...nothing communicates things better than... saying the exact words...". In my opinion this informational message is unnecessary and counterproductive. Other feedbacks may be useful (for example this one is a nice catch because it combines multiple things (feedback, login progress and pre-loading progress notification) all together. – Adriano Repetti Sep 10 '15 at 18:58
3

On something like an online bank website, where there's an explicit "login process" before you can get to anything meaningful, it may not be necessary (because if you can see the "useful" pages, you must be logged-in). On sites like StackExchange or Amazon, where you can have quite a lot of "meaningful" interaction whether you're logged-in or not, I would say it is more appropriate/helpful (if not strictly necessary) to give a "You are now logged-in" message of some kind to reinforce the difference between being logged-in or not. In both cases, a failure to login should be clearly announced.

3

Instead of displaying a Login Successful message to the User, you could take the advantage of the login to load content in the background. So something of the sort of Logging in... with a progress bar could do two things at once.

  1. Convey that the login was successful, without being a waste.
  2. Give yourself enough time to load the necessary content in the background.

This will only work well in the case of a Dynamic Layout that could have things being updated often between login's and logout's.

For example, Gmail here:

Gmail loading

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    My upvote, where applicable I think this is a nice feedback because a) it's a feedback, b) it's meaningful and it combines progress notification. – Adriano Repetti Sep 10 '15 at 18:55
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Nowadays there is a rise in single page applications which sometimes do need notifications as they can't change color because of their ui. Furthermore icon changes aren't effective while the website is not focusing on the specific ui.

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    why is this such a very long answer with only one sentence that goes on forever without actually saying anything or really answering the question as far as I can tell with my reading abilities – Lightness Races with Monica Sep 10 '15 at 14:02
  • Agreed it's a bit of a run on. I see what you're trying to say but you should focus more on what situations can afford to change the display and how to do so (multi-page applications?) and which can't change color and icons, and why (single page applications?). Also you state it depends on the developers and the kind of audience they are targeting but don't really state which audiences need which implementation. I think clarifying these points may help this answer. – DasBeasto Sep 10 '15 at 14:07
  • Sorry for that plus I would like to say that social network websites and websites which are implementing paper design, color change is not usually done. – Aditya Chawla Sep 10 '15 at 14:14
  • @AdityaChawla I agree about color change. It's one option but it's seldom applicable. However I have to admit that whenever it's possible and meaningful I try to implement it (memories from root *nix access?!). – Adriano Repetti Sep 10 '15 at 19:07

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