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Ask HN: Why drive users away from the login button?
64 points by EamonnMR 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 24 comments
There's a trend to make login buttons less obvious/attractive than signup/schedule a demo/etc buttons. To the point where some sites will actively discourage login. Is this because the metrics driving these sites are primarily user acquisition? Is this some UX trend I missed? I would say that it could be that designers don't expect people to ever log out, but many of these sites won't keep you logged in anyway, so you need to sign in every time you use them.





If a new customer can't find the signup link they might close the tab and never visit again. An existing customer will either know where the login link is or be more likely to try a little harder to find it. So the most valuable real estate on the page is used to convert new customers.

It's the same reason why someuniversity.edu has a big Admissions link and a small login button for current students who are actually consuming the service. The website serves as a billboard more than as a production floor.


Or there's UPS, which switches the prominence of the login / sign up links seemingly at random.

And does something similar with logging in via a 3rd party auth vs using your actual 1st party username.

I'm sure there's some explanation, like referring page and some cookie setting, but to an unknowing user it's pretty obnoxious.


And why can´t they just have equally visible login and signup buttons?

The emphasis of any one element detracts from the others. In many websites, emphasizing the signup button is achieved by de-emphasizing the login button.

Imagine a page with 100 highly visible buttons. It would be extremely difficult to determine which one is likely to be the important action you want at a glance. The same principle applies with 2 buttons, just to a lesser extent.


As a user i hate this pattern but you do see it everywhere.

The website is telling you they don't value returning customers, all they are about is new customers.


On the other hand most news sites are now begging users to log in so they can track us more, and disable functionality or add nags if we don't. Seems to be dependent on the type of business.

I always assumed it was the assumption that the user would be "remembered" by their auth token and that the user would be returning from an already auth'd device.

When your UI team is testing user flows, if they're not starting from a fresh/clean session, they can fall into that pattern and forget to walk the "existing user, no auth" path.

At a past employer we ran into that with regards to an Apple/Safari issue. It's been a while, but iirc it was something to do with scroll heights, modals, and a render engine update in Safari maybe 3-4 years ago. Nobody caught it during testing due to us using manual testing in a variety of browsers, and it was live for almost 3 weeks. It was annoying at normal use, but if you had fonts increased (i.e. eldery/vision impaired user) it meant the user would be unable to login.

After that incident we switched to a hosted browser testing solution (I think it was BrowserStack, but might have been something else) and we made sure to flush things and test on multiple browsers per platform. I don't remember the full list anymore but it was something like 20 different browser/platform/version tests each.


GitHub even completely omitted the login button on their top page (I think it has one now).

I used to google "github", hit the first link, only to find out there was no way I can login, google again with "github login".

This was one of the worst UX I have ever had on the web.


I tweeted about this not too long ago to companies I otherwise like: stripe, netlify, and postmark https://twitter.com/pketh/status/1450124661673664513

Some replies mentioned that this was to maintain access to the pricing page for users, but if that was the case, having pricing accessible while logged on seems like the real solution.

From official replies, it appears that the real motivation behind this is marketing upsells for existing users/customers. Likely the reason they think this works is AB testing or some other conversion metrics, but I don't need stats to tell me that it's quite shady and annoying.


It's just a reflection of how companies think about their customers.

New customer = Very Important Person (TM).

Existing customer = Who cares, as long as they can't easily figure out how to cancel the subscription (NYTimes, looking at you)


>Is this because the metrics driving these sites are primarily user acquisition?

I believe it is the reason, and have read so (somewhere).

Sometimes, it is worse on mobile where the login button disappears and you have to click on a "sandwich/menu" icon to display it; to this I say: guilty as charged. In this case, there are hundreds of other more pressing issues and we'll get to it. Maybe I'll change it later.


THIS DRIVES ME CRAZY. Honestly I have attributed it not so much to any intention but basically the website is designed by the marketing/sales side and all the users you already got is an afterthought. They didn't so much de-empasise it as forget to emphasise it.

Man it annoys me.


There are some sites where "signup" and "login" are synonymous - if you don't have an account, it'll make you one, and if you do, you login

But the reason "signup" is more important to a business/service than "login" is that it's WAY more expensive to GET a customer than to KEEP a customer

It takes more time to get a customer

It takes more pitch to get a customer

It takes more incentives to get a customer

To keep one, all you have to do is not piss them off so much they decide to leave

It's why magazines are filled with promotional 1-, 2-, and 3-year subscription cards at 60%, 75%, or even 95% off the newsstand price

Once you're in, you're in - and getting un-in is either difficult, or not worth the trouble


Because marketing websites are made to convert and sell, it’s like a colorful brochure for new visitors.

Those that were already sold to and bought in to the product and value it provides, shouldn’t use new visitor brochures to use the product.


Maybe we should get rid of signup/login pages and only have one? If you don't have an account you should be prompted to enter a few more details and confirm account creation, but otherwise the flow should be similar.

There are a few sites I've come across that do this "smart" - this site being one of the few (the SE family of sites is similarly-simple/unified in their signup/login approach)

I find this design pattern extremely irritating, but as someone who's done a fair amount of ecom/related web development I get it. There's very specific designs that 'scientifically' improve conversions, and the designers behind these systems often aren't the same people designing the software the service is actually selling. It's like the two groups have competing goals. There's definitely a middle ground between creating a system that's easy to sign up for/high converting, and a system that's easy to sign into/existing user friendly, but because of how companies staff, hire, and compartmentalize, there's often not the cooperation required to make that happen.

They optimize for sign up conversions.

It all depends on the product, designers, market, product owners, marketing team, and target audiences

Some products would have different funnel for the lifecycle of their product. Sometimes it might make sense to do one thing for a specific funnel and might not on a different context.

However, that assumes we are making decisions based on data.

Sometimes a team / company can will make decisions even if it is not optimal in terms of conversations because that's what they feel like doing.


I ran into a good one the other day. The navbar had the standard "log in / SIGN UP" pair. I came back after logging in, expecting that as usual the login button would take me to the app. But the navbar had changed to "log out / DASHBOARD" and guess which one I clicked.

Unintentionally I did not put such button on the landing page of collAnon, thanks everyone for pointing out how indeed it is annoying :D

Exact reason why i stopped using digitalocean, motherfuckers keep hiding the sign in button especially on mobile LOL

..what space crack are you smoking? You hit the hamburger menu (on mobile), scroll to the bottom, and "Log In" is right there above "Sign Up"

On a normal browser, the buttons are next to each other at the top right of the page

Now

The stupid Cloudflare captcha crap is an RPITA

No sane person or organization should be using Cloudflare


Already knowing that you lost the password, and have to do a password reset.



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