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[icon] Website design annoyance - Patti
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Subject:Website design annoyance
Time:05:25 pm
Imagine a website where you have to register in order to use the site, or log in if you're already registered. There are zillions of sites like this, but let's call our hypothetical site LinkedIn.

When you go to LinkedIn, you're presented with a page that tells you a little bit about the site, and gives you a simple form that you can fill out in order to register-- enter your first and last name, email address, and a password, and you're all set. Just click the great big Join Now button and you're good to go.

Below that there's a teeny tiny line of text, the smallest text on the page, that says, "Already on LinkedIn? Sign in. There's also a sign in link at the top of the page, but it's not graphically prominent in any way.

I'm thinking about the usage patterns of LinkedIn right now. How many returning users log in for every new user that signs up? 20? 50? 100? I don't know exactly, but it has to be somewhere in that range. Let's call it 50. For every person who comes to LinkedIn and signs up, 50 people have to click an extra link just to get where they want to go.

Sure, this probably gets them a slightly larger number of conversions... people who come to the front page then sign up. And people would be confused by having two forms, a login and a signup, next to each other on the page, though this has been solved before-- make the login boxes smaller and put them at the top of the page, and make the signup form prominent. Returning users know where to look, and new users aren't distracted by the little thing in the top corner.

I see this over and over in website design-- registered users have to do more work in order to sign in, even though that's by far the most frequent activity that happens from the front page.

Why do designers do this?
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gunga_galunga
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 01:09 am (UTC)
my.yahoo.com is terrible with that.
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rahaeli
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 01:49 am (UTC)
Because designers are working from specs that come from Marketing and Customer Acquisition?
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 02:18 am (UTC)
OK, why do stupid Marketing and Customer Acquisition people do this? And why don't designers push back?

(Rhetorical, of course.)
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rahaeli
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 02:44 am (UTC)
Because we haven't loaded up the B ark yet! ;)
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evwhore
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 10:10 am (UTC)
We're engineers, what could we possibly know about how normal people use things?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


ronsrants
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 02:04 am (UTC)
I've actually wondered about this for that exact site!

What is even worse is when the site has a "remember me" checkbox, but no matter how often you click the box, it never actually remembers you.

-R
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slfisher
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 04:13 pm (UTC)
me too!
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jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 02:15 am (UTC)
People are terminally stupid.
(Reply) (Thread)


jcdill
Subject:xkcd covered this
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 02:55 am (UTC)
xkcd covered this not too long ago.
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Mark Rafn [dagon.net]
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 05:02 am (UTC)
My initial assumption is the same as JP's: run of the mill stupidity (sadly, not terminal most of the time).

For this particular error, though, many site designers expect (and back up that expectation with measurements) that you'll allow cookies and stay signed in most of the time, so the "already have account but am at kiosk or new machine" is a mildly rare case.

And since new users are more likely to go away if they're too dumb to notice they misclicked "sign on using existing account" than existing users if they have to click a bit, they choose to make it easier on new users.

Seems like they could solve this FAR more easily with a signin that collects information and then offers either new account or existing login, but that just brings us back to the base hypothesis.

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elfs
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-09-12 08:21 am (UTC)
Two reasons. First, you've made a commitment to using the site by signing up. By the time you've wandered around a few times, the value proposition is either obvious, and you'll stay, or it's not, and you'll go. If you'll stay, it doesn't matter how hard it is to sign in, you'll do it-- you understand the value proposition, and a modestly difficult sign-in is no impediment to it.

Secondly, most people do not assiduously delete their cookies. If you visit this hypothetical site every day-- as some people do-- your session would never expire. You'd never have to worry about logging in at all.

And finally, you're right: concentrating on what you want people to do is key. The home page must make conversions; the inner pages must allow users to make connections with one another. Signing in is neither of those activities; it is, at best, peripheral to what the inner pages do. It is therefore of little importance, but it would be detrimental if users could not do it at all. LinkedIn has designed its home page with this in mind: signing in can be found and done. And once you've done it once, you'll remember where it was in the future.
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[icon] Website design annoyance - Patti
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