I'm aware that there are some similar conversations on ux.stackexchange, but I'm thinking of a very specific use case.

I am regularly annoyed by sites where the login button is much less prominent than the sign up button. I understand the benefit of focussing on converting new users over caring about current users, but as a user I find it rather bad.

So I'm looking at a front page with a prominent CTA stating "Join or Sign up". If you click on it, a form will be revealed.

This will have 4 elements:

  • An email field
  • A password field
  • A "Go" button
  • A "Forgot password?" link.

If the user clicks "Go", the account is validated and if it exists, you have logged in. If it does not exist, an account will be created, following email validation.

If the user clicks the "Forgot password?" link, an email with a validation number is sent.

The password field will be replaced by a 'validation number' and a new password field. The go button remains.

Is there anything bad about this concept?

6 Answers 6


Is there is anything 'bad' about proposed concept? Yes

New users who are planning to sign up may not understand why are you asking them to provide a password for a non existing account. This is similar study I was exposed to in the past and it was a big confusing factor for majority of users. It was addition of the "password confirmation" field and changing CTA label to "Sign Up" or "Register" what made the difference.

Potential Solution:

If you want to consider combining "Login" and "Registration" flow into one, then you could potentially do that by ...

  1. User clicks "Login / Register" CTA
  2. User fills out an email address
  3. System decides if this is a new user or returning
  4. If returning: user is asked to provide the password and "Sign In" is the CTA
  5. If new: user is asked to set their password + confirm their password, and "Sign Up" or "Register" will be the CTA

I see a security issue with someone being able to find out if you are using the service or not.

Also,, constantly checking with the server for match (assuming its like google instant, where the result updates on each keystroke) may increase the load on server. If its an email address, you can wait till user enters the "@" symbol followed by at least one dot. But for usernames, you have to start checking as soon as it reaches the minimum threshold characters.

Other than that, i actually like the idea of merging both the flows.

Also, as highlighted here, new users who are not familiar with the flow may get confused.


Much of what you're asking hinges on type of your product, maturity of your product, security needs, and whether you're willing to make a few trade-offs for friction-less signup and registration.

A few things to consider with your proposed approach:

  1. Combining them breaks convention. For better or worse, people expect separate Login and Registration flow. Merging two is very rare, and you may throw some people off.

  2. Accidental account registration from incorrectly entered email and password.

  3. Future design inflexibility because sign-up and log-in fields have to be the same, you are not able to collect additional information during sign-up without creating a follow-up second page. (which you or may not find acceptable)

  4. Other security considerations. Enough has been discussed about issue of making user enter password twice, so I won't bring that up. But in your proposed design, the "Forgot password" link would work in conjunction with the email. However, what if the user forgot the email address? Wouldn't you want to allow users to setup other forms of password reset? (e.g. combination of other information and security questions)

  • I'd really like to see some evidence for throwing people off. I personally use two sites that support a signup - prominently on the home page which will simply log you in if your credentials are working.
    – Hans
    Nov 3, 2015 at 21:20
  • If you sign up for the first time, I'll send you a confirmation email, so that you confirm your email and complete the registration. This gives me the flexibility to gain more information.
    – Hans
    Nov 3, 2015 at 21:21

I am regularly annoyed by sites where the login button is much less prominent than the sign up button.

Yes--me, too. But there are simple solutions to this:

  • Make sure the home page has a clear, accessible log-in button. This need not distract from the sign-up process for new users. Twitter, the first major website that I randomly checked, shows that this can be done quite well. The log in option is at the top and selected by default, but there is a prominent sign up form directly below that.
  • Remember that a user has an account and don't show the sign-up option. Even if the user has been logged out, the site could remember a log-in from their computer and direct them to a log-in with their username (a la GMail). People need to opt in to this with a "remember me" option, since it can be a risk on a public computer.
  • Allow signed-up users to access content directly with a different link. Make the landing page once you have logged in have a different address. Users can bookmark this and bypass the page asking them to sign up.

The proposed solution will be confusing to all, since sign up and log in are two very different tasks (despite having some similar information involved).


Check if the entered email address is in the database and you could change the label on the 'Go' button to 'Sign up' if the email address is unknown, and 'Log In' if the email address is in the database.

If you make this change very apparent then a user that expects 'log in' will be surprised to see 'sign up' when his email address is spelled incorrect. This will help you deal with accidental account registration.

Also the forgot password link should only be active if the email address is actually in the database.

The only bad thing I see in this design is security. I'm not an expert on that subject but there will probably be people that have concerns if you decide to do this, so it will be a traditional ux vs security discussion with your devs.

  • This solution will be large performance hit on the application as well. You will have to essentially check for entered email address on each keystroke (assuming the entry passes email address validation).
    – Igorek
    Nov 2, 2015 at 3:42
  • To keep requests low, a common method is to set a delayed timer so that it is only checking when you stop typing, or pause. Also since it is supposed to be a email address, you can ignore checking it's existence before it is a valid address. Essentially leaving you 2 characters at most to actually validate.
    – Martyn
    Nov 2, 2015 at 3:46
  • The queries against the database is a non-issue, use an autocomplete-script that has a timer on the keyup. (like 2 seconds). This means that you wont search for each letter. You can also wait to search untill you parse the email as valid via regexp. However, there is the security and spam issue with this approach, as people can abuse it to find the email accounts in your db.
    – Olavxxx
    Nov 6, 2015 at 8:59

The main issue I see is:

  • If the user has an account but forgot credentials, suddenly the user has two accounts.

What about: Login > if no account, tell user: cant find your account, do you wish to create an account?

If the user chooses yes, then the credentials are used for creating the account. If he/she knows they have an account, they will try different credentials or use the "forgot username/password"-button?

  • If a user uses the same email address they won't have two accounts, but simply have the option to tick forget password on the existing account.
    – Hans
    Nov 3, 2015 at 21:18
  • This only holds true if that user only uses one email account and knows which account they use, I believe most users have several accounts and have had several. At least this is very common in Norway and some people dont remember which account they had where, which username or password. Often people get an email account from theire ISP, they have an hotmail account, gmail account and work email... A good soup or accounts. Even if they dont remember which account they used, they might want to "try" to login before using the "forgot credentials". I would get frustrated by autogeneration.
    – Olavxxx
    Nov 5, 2015 at 8:54

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