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I've noticed that some sites feature register button (or form) more prominently than login button (or form), such as Dropbox and Facebook, whereas some other sites are the opposite. And also, I've noticed that in some mobile apps like Facebook app, the login button is more prominent than register button.

From user experience perspective (and business perspective), which one should be more prominent? Will new user feels alienated by greeted with login form first? Will returning user get annoyed for the need to click on the "Returning user? Click here to login!" button each time?

  • All answers provide great argumentation and unique, and I actually can't pick which one is the best answer. But I'll go with Amit Jain for providing the first answer. Thanks everyone! – Chen Li Yong Apr 25 '16 at 9:27
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    On a site where the login button is placed at the top of the front page and the signup button is placed in the middle of the front page, I frequently see the same user signing up 2 or 3 times before they learn where to find the login button. So I am curious to hear how others dealt with this problem. – kasperd Apr 25 '16 at 12:13
  • Some websites I have visited are set up such that if I type my username and password into the register fields (leaving the remaining field 'confirm password') blank then it simply logs me in. – Captain Man Apr 25 '16 at 15:05
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    I find the prominence of registration over login to be off-putting - it tells me the website is more bothered about getting new users than retaining users. I prefer sites that make both actions equally prominent, but obviously different (coloration, for example). – HorusKol Apr 26 '16 at 2:55
  • @kasperd yeah I agree! That was my case with dropbox long time ago when they still haven't changed the welcome page to be more streamlined and clean like now. I even need to use the browser's find text feature to search for the Login button, only to find out the Login button (or link, should I say) is sitting on the top right of the page, with a ridiculously small font size. – Chen Li Yong Apr 26 '16 at 3:55
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The products these days are intelligent enough to predict their visitor intent of coming on the website based on past their past behavior. For example, If I have logged out of a website, then the next time I open it - it will know that I am a returning user (through various technical means, e.g. browser cookies) and can present a message, "Returning user? Click here to login!" It can even, as many of them do, pre-fill my username so I might have just add in the password. So its marriage of design and data/technical intelligence that makes it a customised experience, rather than one generic approach.

Lets assume, that product is not able to recognise the user, or if a user is a first timer, then - based on the product's audience, equal importance could be given to Login & Register, or a preferential treatment could be thought of. For example, Gmail (web) focuses on Login but Facebook focuses on Regsiter. This could be because, in gmail's case, new account creation happens far less as compared to logins - and as people logout often, the most important action is Logging in again.

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    Obligatory: " as people log out often" notaverb.com/logout – Monty Harder Apr 25 '16 at 17:15
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    @MontyHarder feels very pedantic. language evolves, everyone reading that understands the meaning. so who cares? – Midas Apr 25 '16 at 20:48
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    @Midas pedantic, it may be, but it is correct and it taught me something. "Logged out" vs "Logouted" shows how logout is more than just a little bit wrong. – icc97 Apr 26 '16 at 0:45
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    @MontyHarder, thanks for the link! I agree we should strive for correct precision of use in English language, just as we do with programming languages. ;) – Wildcard Apr 26 '16 at 1:29
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    @MontyHarder Thanks for the pointer and the link. Was good to learn. – Amit Jain Apr 26 '16 at 6:09
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The fact that some sites feature a Register button more prominent than the Login button might be attributed to the fact that these sites try to encourage visitors to register and use their services. From a normal UX point of view, an user log ins many times on a site but registers only once, so it makes sense to have the Login button more prominent.

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    I also more prefer to make the login process more prominent than register one, because that means we prioritise the user who already join and thus a member. If you're a new user, then we urge you to join, to gain all these prioritise and facility. Something like that. :) Thanks! – Chen Li Yong Apr 25 '16 at 9:29
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    Although I get this angle, as a registered user I cant help but feel completely unappreciated when sites do this. I think there are ways to have a good CTA for new users but also a very easy "welcome back" login option for your paying/participating members. – scunliffe Apr 26 '16 at 1:20
  • KISS. Nice answer. – Priidu Neemre Apr 26 '16 at 12:27
  • I disagree: often I'm left searching for "registering" - while after registering I already "learned" the website, and the login is just stored on my computer to auto log in. Logging in can also be done in a much 'faster' way, so I can do it while doing other things. While for registering I have to "quit" doing what I'm doing, think about which email to use what personalia I need to fake this time and then return: I prefer to do that before I order something. – paul23 Apr 1 at 15:36
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Try this:

Show only one button.

Take email address they enter and determine if you need to register them with a new account or log them in with that email.


This way it's impossible for the user to select the wrong choice.

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    +1 because in many cases I CANNOT REMEMBER if I registered with a site I am aware of but use infrequently. For the same reason, the username should always be the EMAIL ADDRESS and be referred to as an EMAIL ADDRESS rather than a "username". Just let me type in my email address, if you don't recognise let me register. And if I get the password wrong, direct me to the page to reset it. – Level River St Apr 26 '16 at 20:44
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    Always make wrong choices impossible, whenever possible. That way, everyone is happy. "Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" – user67695 Apr 26 '16 at 22:43
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    Is this not also a security concern? You're allowing potential attackers to verify if a user has an account on the site or not. – The6P4C Apr 27 '16 at 5:14
  • I agree with @The6P4C, this is a security issue. – James Monger Apr 27 '16 at 10:24
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When considering UX, consider the total user experience. That is, a user has memory and an action like logging in may occur multiple times. Thus, it doesn't need to be very prominent. There is a learning curve and the user will learn.

Registration on the other hand is catered to someone that has not accessed your site before. It is a one-time action and thus should be made more prominent, especially if trying to encourage and attract users to register with your site.

Unless a login button is in a non-traditional location, there is no need to bring attention to it. Also, good design will naturally flow a user to a Login/Register page if the user tries to access a registration-required feature.

  • This is also a valid point. But I do have that frustration with dropbox long time ago when I tried to find Login button, to the point that I have to use the browser's find text feature. Today's dropbox welcome page is more cleaner and more streamlined for the new user and recurring user altogether. They used to be flashy, with big images and many artifacts that made me confused what to do (which is why I feature dropbox as study case). – Chen Li Yong Apr 26 '16 at 3:53
  • @ChenLiYong I'd say that bad design is bad design, no matter how much emphasis (or lack thereof) is given to locating an object. People can only visually interpret so much data at once. The typical login form is either smack in the middle of a simple page, or in the top right of a more elaborate page. But poor designs could make scroll bars unusable, break element tabbing, or even make text unreadable. Just because more emphasis should be given to a login or register, does not mean that either should be hard to locate. – vol7ron Apr 26 '16 at 4:09
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    Thinking further I might even go to say that neither should have more emphasis. That both should have the same amount of emphasis as they're secondhand feature. The site doesn't require login or registration, so neither should be considered a primary feature and thus don't require emphasis. Hmmm – vol7ron Apr 26 '16 at 4:10
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I propose that for the best UX, user login and new user registration both use the same initial form.

How many times have you typed info into one of these forms only to find out that you are reregistering on the site rather than logging in or vice versa?

The best solution in my opinion is to have the two important fields at the front: username and password. If the system can log you in based on that info then thats it -- you're authenticated. If it cannot, then it should say something like "We cannot find this user, would you like to setup an account now?" Then the rest of the registration fields are presented along with an opportunity to verify the password you previously typed (or create a completely new one).

Then there is no need to differentiate "Register" or "Login" at all.

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    I agree! I made those mistakes many times than I should. But on the other side of hands, many companies try to obscure the error message and not divulge the specific problem in user login, so the hacker could not gain advantage over it, which is a valid point, but greatly reduce user experience who might forgot their username but doesn't realise it. – Chen Li Yong Apr 26 '16 at 3:47
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First thoughts are it depends on if your service is established or not. The longer the company has been around I would guess the login feature would be displayed more but for a brand new start up I assume the register button would be more visible.

  • This make sense. But on the other hand, I might can speed up the register process by providing register using social media. But it's true that it all depends on what stage your company / product on. Thanks! – Chen Li Yong Apr 25 '16 at 9:31
  • ideally, change registration to something else like passive registration – colmcq Apr 25 '16 at 14:46
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Most companies try to use their websites in the best possible manner to attract new customers. It is thus arguable to make register button more prominent. One way of doing this can be to have both the register and login buttons in the same row and use a raised button for register and a flat button for login. See android material design guidelines for buttons here to know more about raised and flat buttons.

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IMHO : this question is logically equivalent to another question : is the avarage user a returning user or a first comer ? Controversary , a human being is a returning user, because he registers once and use many. So , I recommend promoting the login button ,while keeping the register button well-noticed and easy to access .

Best regards.

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Just to clarify, this is a web-based application, from the sounds of it. So let me ask, is there an implicit assumption that users either deliberately log out of your application before they navigate away or close the browser window, or are they perhaps automatically logged out after a certain amount of time?

In my current (mobile) app case I've left the sign up/register button more prominent and the returning user log in a simple line of text under that, because we don't have users logging out ... they close the app and return expecting it to be open and in the same state as they left it.

In your case, as vol7ron has said, consider the whole UX experience. Is there no way to offer an intelligent "get started" option that recognizes via cookie etc if a user is a new or returning user and changes the onboarding entry fields based on that state? If the user is on a device they didn't log in from before (thus appearing to be a new user) there would be a way to change the "get started new user" UI to the "already registered" state via a small link.

  • The case that I'm working on is a mobile app. But I extended the question to be general. But I see your point which I'm certainly missed when asking this question (because I ask this originally about mobile app). In mobile app, after the user register, they're automatically logged in, and never log out again. In this case, it makes sense to make register link to be more prominent. – Chen Li Yong Apr 27 '16 at 2:03

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