by anthony on 04/08/11 at 4:09 pm
How fast can you spot the difference between ‘sign up’ and ‘sign in’? Using these button labels together causes users to click the wrong button. But it’s not their fault. The mistake occurs because the labels are too similar.
This annoys users who sign in because they make the mistake the most. Signing in is a rote task that’s reinforced by repetition. Users shouldn’t have to always make a cognitive effort to distinguish the two buttons. It’s easy for them to get confused when both buttons use the same verb in their labels. This extra cognitive work they have to do creates a bad user experience.
If you want to give users a faster login experience, avoid using ‘sign up’ and ‘sign in’ together. Instead, make the button labels distinct from each other by using different verbs.
There are alternative ways to say ‘sign up’ and ‘sign in’ that mean the same thing. A better way to say ‘sign in’ is ‘log in’. If you want to use ‘sign up’ as a button label, use ‘log in’ with it. The verbs are different and won’t cause confusion. But if you want to make your button labels more distinct than that, use a more specific label for ‘sign up’.
Some specific ways to say ‘sign up’ are:
- Join [Name of your site]
- Create Account
- Get Started
The verbs in ‘sign up’ and ‘log in’ are different. But the prepositions are similar and the syllables are the same. This can still cause confusion among users. By making ‘sign up’ more specific, you remove the preposition and change the syllables. This gives your button labels a different cadence and makes it even more clear to users.
Text labels aren’t the only way to make buttons distinct. To help users click the right button every time, give your buttons a different visual style as well. It’s important for users to find your ‘sign up’ when they first visit your site. You should give that button a high-contrast color that stands out from the background. The ‘sign in’ button should have a color that blends in with the background.
When the labels of your ‘sign up’ and ‘sign in’ buttons are distinct, users will make less mistakes. They won’t have to exert cognitive effort to distinguish between two similar buttons. Instead of clicking the wrong button, they’ll click the one that leads them to the result they expect.