The world is full of poorly designed experiences. Let's identify them, share them, and shrink their numbers. Here Daniel Brown muses on the perceived slighting of members in favor of those who haven't yet signed up for certain services:

This isn't so much an example as a trend I don't understand.

Many sites now emphasize "Sign Up" over "Sign In"—and not in a subtle way. The "Sign Up" buttons are generally huge, obvious, and welcomingly green.

Meanwhile, the "Sign In" function is often just a text link dwarfed by the larger "Sign Up" button or tucked away in a corner waiting to be found.

Spotify sign-in

Spotify, at the moment anyway, is among the worst offenders.

Pocket sign-in

I understand wanting to increase your installed base quickly but it's also important to make those that may have already paid you money feel welcome.

Dropbox sign-in

In no other service industry is this approach used. It's a little like a restaurant offering new customers a red carpet and champagne as they are escorted into the restaurant while long-time patrons are told to enter through the kitchen and past the restrooms.

Evernote sign-in

You could argue that many users come to these services routinely using the same device(s) and aren't required to login with every visit. But Brown does raise an interesting idea: maybe even if it's not always for the benefit of members, login pages can make more of an effort to promote membership as something special. Food for thought.

Keep these coming. Send them to us via Twitter or Facebook using the hastag #wtfUX or email them to: wtfux@uxmag.com with "#wtfUX" in the subject line. Include as much context as you can, so we get a full understanding of what the f%*k went wrong.


UPDATE:

tumblr sign-in

Here's another example of a diminished sign-in on Tumblr from Andrea Barabás.

iCloud sign-in

And here's an example of ample sign-in real estate from Tobias Horvath.

Couldn't help but send this major counter-example. This is how it should be.

True. The icloud.com website is not Apple’s primary way to gain new users, but it’s so refreshing going there. If I go visit a service that requires me to login to use it, all I want is to be able to login instantly.

 

Article No. 1 431 | April 30, 2015
Article No. 1 426 | April 15, 2015
Article No. 1 423 | April 9, 2015

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Comments

I am not convinced that is a UX problem. It might actually be more considered than giving the two options equal weight. When you think about it, if the user has signed up before, there is a good chance that they are already logged into the site and therefore would bypass this screen altogether upon return (with the exception of the user not using their daily machine). By putting an emphasis on the sign up, you are helping potential users navigate to their intent.

I am going to be the outlier here and say, I don't entirely agree. To a certain extent, yes, some of these examples suck from a ux perspective (e.g. Tumblr; the proximity to the main sign-up and log-in is terrible). I don't think the majority of users see a giant button for sign-up and a tiny button for sign-in as a terrible experience. If I were a rat in a maze going through for the first time a little help (big shiny object) would be nice. But if I've been there before, there's no longer a need. I remember my way just fine, and I still get a reward from using the app. I have no evidence to support this, but I feel as though some feel better already being a memeber, such as some companies implement "Member since…" badges. I think it might be different if you knew the brand new members got to try the new shiny just-off-beta-app and you had the old crusty version. Just some thoughts. Anyone else?

--Justin

I agree with the point of this article,  sites are designed with log in as a secondary citizen.  But you only point to a symtom, we have a much bigger problem.  I feel that sign in/ sign up need to be totally "re-thunk".  Todays designers still have the mind set of log in as only: username/pw and sign up as username/pw/email  and 'Did you forget your pw' .  Those days are gone!  Designers are shoe horning a ton of new features in the old mind set.   The whole "Site Access" problem has become much more complicated with Sign In, Log In, key access, OAuth, FaceBook, Linkedin, ....  The market is ripe for a designer to tear down the whole process and build it back up with a new mind set.  I look forward to this new design or any new design. 

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No offense, but for a UX magazine your content is VERY hard to read. You mix text sizes in no plausible way, sometimes big, sometimes small, the general text sizes is way too small to offer a good reading experience, you write some paragraphs in italics and others not, and then you want to tell as why other websites give a bad experience? Oh come on! I don't even want to talk about the article when I see all of that ...

No offense taken. We're a free community resource first and a paragon of UX a very distant second. Our limited resources go to content creation, so feedback like this is actually very helpful. In this case, the italics are meant to represent the descriptions provided by Daniel Brown. We'll look into bumping the font size up and will rethink consistency on size throughout articles.

Being a bit of a type geek (I call out the names of typefaces on billboards a la "Rainman" on a regular basis), Christian has a point. Italics are generally reserved for short spans of emphasis or when indicating terms from another language, sometimes a quote, etc.

I think the goal was to distinguish my ramblings from the "setting of context". Perhaps a different typeface (serif vs. sans) or "weight" would allow for clearer distinction.

As for type size, I am in posession of 40+ eyes and, every day, type seems to grow smaller so I sympathize.

 

A very good article. I don't understant this tendency to understimate the clients. 

Thanks for building such a constructive conversation around this bit of #wtfUX! Seems like there are clear arguments for and against this approach. What's a designer to do?

The reason I personally support this style is two-fold:

1. There will always be more people not using your system than using it. Sign ups are the more likely use case, right? 

2. Signed in users won't usually see these screens anyway; when you hit the URL it takes you directly to your dashboard, homepage (Dropbox) etc. 

This bugs me SO much. I have a number of apps and sites that I'm continuously logging into for a range of reasons. I never understood why I have to dig to find a login but the signup is shown. Obviously i'm realizing that getting users to sign up is the main goal of most services, but given my assumption of how frequently users login (maybe I'm an outlier) I find it perplexing that I have to go through an extra hoop to login.

Agreed, Spotify is a big offender. When you finally see the sign in button, you then search for the Spotify web app only to be redirected to a different website.

I don't begrudge these sites their high-impact "Sign Up" buttons, or even their diminished "Sign In" buttons, as long as they make one concession for me: put a "Sign In" link where I expect it: in the upper, right-hand corner of the page.

I'm so conditioned to look there for a sign in link that I ignore all of the marketing fluff that fills the rest of the home page. It's annoying to me when I have to scan through it to find the sign in link, and doubly so when it is de-emphasized to this degree.

Agreed that Sign In buttons shouldn't be tucked away, but I get their point of view: returning users are usually already logged in, so let's welcome the new ones. Of course that is not always the case, but it usually is.

TOTALLY agree with you on this. I suspect the focus is on getting more users than catering to the ones who have already signed up, because the sheer amount seems to inflate value. Somebody's forgetting the "quality not quantity" rule ;) But the principle is the problem, because it makes existing users feel less important, hell of a way to thank us for our interest in a product.  

Pinterest is WAY WORSE than these!! They have "Continue with Facebook" button, then "Email" "Create Password" fields, with a big red "Sign Up" underneath it. Your first reaction when you see the email and password fields is "Oh, let me enter my login credentials." The "Log In" button is in the upper right of the modal box and completely blends in with the background.

Also, there actually is a real life example of this behavior similar to your champagne & red carpet scenario - an exercise franchise called "Cardio Barre," which frequently offers 10 classes for $49 to NEW CLIENTS ONLY, while their regular paying customers are stuck paying $18 per class or $170 for 10 classes. And they're extremely strict on their rules, if you have only taken one class and that was 4 years ago, you're still an "existing customer."

Gyms in Australia do this too. Special deals for new members, previous members get no special benefits.

Hey UXMAG, how about updating your reply form so once I've made a comment you remember my name and email address so I don't need to enter it everytime #wtfUX. Love that I don't need to create an account or sign into facebook thought. Cheers.