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I'm working on a web app which allows users to easily rent a boat. Users can create an account if they want so they can view/edit their booking.

When a user is on the homepage (or any page) and clicks 'log in', I feel like I should send them to their personal account page since the only reason to log in is to view/edit their booking.

On casper.com they show a message that they're logged in but lets the user stay on the same page, even though the only reason to log in on casper.com is also to view/edit your order.

screenshot of Casper's log in message

My question: What would be the reason to not send the user directly where they want to go? Am I missing another reason why a users wants to log in?

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When a user first logs on, this is a pivotal time in their experience on your platform. Already only a select number even create an account. At this point, they believe that there is a possibility that you will add value to them as an individual. After they log on for the first time, you often see a large number of users who drop off and never log on again. You also will get a number who will be loyal users. the difference is in this next step after they sign up. Take advantage of this. Study who your typical user is and also who your power user is. If you can recognize the behaviors of one vs the other before they sign up, you could funnel them toward one post login screen or another.

Every app and will have users looking for different results. If the profile has direct call to actions where a user will know what to do next, then a profile is great. For example, on Facebook, you know you need to add a photo. On Linkedin, adding previous jobs is clear. But if it's not obvious, and say, it's more like Amazon, there is no point of sending a user to their profile. Send them to a product that often sells really well to first time users to convert!

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It really depends on what your app/site does after you are logged in.

On a "site" like Digg.com, I expect after login to just go back to where I was, I just have permission to do stuff now.

On an "app" I expect to go to a "home page/dashboard" after login that gives me an overview of everything I have access to... OR to a specific page if I was attempting to hit a direct link, but got redirected to a login page due to no session (or a tiemout)

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I think the only good reason you don't want to send the user directly is if you want to train them to see how quick they can click to their desired page by just some link in a toolbar (which would then increase the likelihood of them paying attention to other links in the toolbar such as Explore or Settings)

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You said, "What would be the reason to not send the user directly where they want to go?" You're making one very dangerous assumption, which is you believe you know exactly where the user is trying to go. I hate to burst that bubble, but from professional experience, I can tell you in most cases you do not have the level of certainty you believe you do, and the few cases where you might are the edge cases, not the norm.

You also said, "the only reason to log in on casper.com is also to view/edit your order." I completely disagree as you're missing one major reason someone would log in, which is to make a purchase. In the case of casper.com, redirecting the user to their order history or account page after logging in could result in losing out on conversions. If I'm browsing casper.com for an item and decide to log in, the last thing you'd want to do is redirect me to a different page. It's the same reason websites like Amazon keep you on the same page after logging in. Most eCommerce sites or businesses in general care most about boosting conversions, in this case that would be sales, for other websites it might be newsletter sign-ups or followers on a blog.

Ultimately, there is no cookie-cutter copy-and-paste answer to your question. Every website has different goals, but every website will try to do one thing: keep users on their highest conversion pages as long as possible. Redirecting the user to another page without knowing the user explicitly requested to go there is a big no-no.

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