In the process of implementing an registration page that will be seen by two types of users (those registering to buy from the site, and those registering to sell on the site). The current functionality is one button that displays information for both types of users, we are splitting this into two buttons:

Heading, description, and two buttons: why register with for reason 1 / reason 2

The spec for this change was to show both sets of reasons to register, but re-order them so that the information relevant to the button clicked would go to the top. Having implemented it it looks quite cluttered and confusing.

I feel that it would be better to only show the information relevant to the button that was clicked. To me at least it make sense to show a user information they have asked for and no other.

Are there rules of thumb for hiding information when users have made a positive action?

6 Answers 6


Richard, I think your dilemma is similar to the one I've had with the previous company I've co-founded (BloggersBase).

We had two main audiences - Bloggers and Readers, each one with different reasons to register. But since we couldn't be sure which audience the user belonged to, we picked the more likely crowd and showed there were other options using large tabs. As you can see below, each has a completely different design, stuff that's more likely to interest this audience and even the wording of the call to action (to register) is different.

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Perhaps using this method, i.e. showing your main audience, but also exposing the other options would work. If you need to figure out who your main audience is, consider:

  • What words will bring users from search to this page? In our case, we expected that people would search for blogging or blog promotion, but people wouldn't search things related to "Reading blogs".
  • Which crowd will benefit your site more by registering? Sure, you have sellers and buyer and each one needs the other, same as we had bloggers and readers (the readers were active moderating, etc.), but a blogger's value was much higher as a content producer that even unregistered users could access.

Hope this example helped...

  • Thanks Dan, I think this is probably the best option. Our design dosn't actually allow enough space for this however with this in mind Future designs probably will Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 10:18

I find this an odd question; this isn't really information hiding and there isn't really a pattern associated with it. You're describing a situation where a user can make a choice in the UI and asking whether the UI should then reflect that decision or just ignore it and show him further options that aren't relevant to his earlier decision, right?

Well, despite what Sruly said, why would you want to do that? Ask yourself: what does it add for the user? Does it make something clearer? Does it add some value somewhere? Does it make things easier?

Consider this: if my site has a header that says "log in" and I click on that, fill in my details and am logged in, should the header continue to say "log in" or "logged in"? Should it perhaps say both "log in" and "logged in"? That's what your question reads like to me.

As far as I'm concerned that makes the answer obvious: of course you want to reflect application state to the user, because the user interface is the only way you have to communicate with her.

  • Good points, Rahul.
    – Dan Barak
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 18:22
  • Didn't mean "Information Hiding" in the CS sense, I rewrote the title several time trying to phrase it as a question, will change it again. Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 19:28
  • I didn't mean it in the CS sense either :-)
    – Rahul
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 21:00

Obviously you want to keep things clutter free, but there is some logic behind having both explanations.

For one, I may want to sell one thing and buy another. Two, the best way to convince me that I can sell is to show me how you convince others to buy.


Trust your gut. Think of it as a tree with branches rather than two sides of a train track. The user can follow only one path at a time; there need be only one point of decision. Displaying the parallel track is useless and distracting.

  • Practically, once signed up the user could do either we don't actually change the functionality of the site based upon the users choice. Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 19:31

If a percentage of buyers become sellers and vice versa, then show the full content based on the choice, put a link to the other at the bottom.


Id have both explanations but seperate the sales pitch from the actual registration, especially if the registration process is identical regardless of which group the user fits into. I used this on a site where there was 4 'types' of customer. We explained the benefits and functionality to each, then relied on a strong single call to action.

Getting the user to convert is one thing. Giving them 2 buttons to pick from adds extra cognitive load and might discourage some users if they think its confusing.

Also what about users that want to both buy AND sell? 2 buttons gives the impression you need to register twice.

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