It almost depends on which option you decide between:

  1. Let users enjoy the web app but as soon as they want to interact, a login form pops up.
  2. Hide all interactive buttons until they logged in.

I know this is a little dumb question but still want to know how you guys think about either of these? Have you ever faced any similar cases?


I'm working in a social network of local businesses, which works a little bit like Facebook with basic Follow & Comment functions. It's freemium, of course.

  • Can you provide more context? What kind of web site is this? Is it paid? Is it freemium?
    – Jung Lee
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 3:15
  • With option 1, do you mean users can see everything but as soon as they want to interact a login form pops up?
    – Martyn
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 3:20
  • Yeap, that's it
    – Loi Tran
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 3:23
  • What about password reset?
    – user246
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 17:13
  • Stack Exchange uses the first appeoach and I have an account now because of that
    – BlueWizard
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 6:30

2 Answers 2


Assuming that we want to keep our UI as simple as possible and we do not want to overwhelm users with controls they can't use then the only reason to leave visible inaccessible features is to tempt users and make them engaged (to gain an account).

If anonymous access is no more than a showcase (and you want it like that) then you don't have choice: leave everything visible and redirect to login page where appropriate. It's not astonishing for users because this model is used by almost every site I can think about (even on Stack Exchange network).

In my opinion this will provide a bad UX (especially if anonymous users may do something) but (often? always?) marketing rules drive UX decisions.

  • 1
    You're totally right, it almost depends on marketing strategy for each phase of product development, and some on technical capacity of the team. And I also don't support the idea of redirecting people to another page while they're doing their job without asking their permission. Thanks for your helping.
    – Loi Tran
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 3:09

Give users a reason to login or create an account.

If getting and keeping people on board is important, making interaction easy and accessible will help to encourage them to become or stay active on your website.

What should be accessible depends on the privacy and/or security policies of the website. Since you mentioned Facebook as an example take a look at (and criticize) the choices they made. Two things to decide:

  1. If the add/edit functionality can be used in general (eg. commenting on a publicly visible article) you can make it directly accessible (allow to create the comment) and show a login form before they attempt to submit. The only difference for people without an account is that they have to enter the registration form, after which they get the oppurtunity to edit and/or confirm their contribution.

  2. Show the buttons to access the add/edit functionality but prompt for login or registration before you can actually do something.

The advantage of option 1 over 2 is that people are not interrupted by a login procedure and can start typing what's on their mind right away. This increases the chance someone will actually post it since they already put some effort in it.

If you can, go for option 1 but if you can’t allow posting things directly after registration users will lose their input and might get frustrated. Also a mix of option 1 and 2 can get confusing. So a recommendation is hard to give, the advice is the same as always: Test!

  • Don't really get #1, for either of those who has or doesn't have an account, you don't know whether they have or not until they login/register? Then it become #2, doesn't it? Am I missing at some point? Can you explain more. Thanks very much!
    – Loi Tran
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 2:58
  • I edited my answer. Hope it is a bit clearer now.
    – jazZRo
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 11:01
  • Haha, got it now. The right answer all the time is: Test. Anyway, thanks very much, quite helpful to see from another point of view.
    – Loi Tran
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 10:24

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