by anthony on 04/08/11 at 4:09 pm
Do your users know the difference between “Sign Up” and “Sign In” on your website? The difference takes a while for most users to mentally process because “Sign Up” and “Sign In” look so similar. They’re two different functions, but the only visible difference is the prepositions they use. The difference is so small that using them together confuses users and forces them to think. When users have to think about how the two are different, it can slow down their performance, make them feel uncomfortable about taking action or cause them to choose the wrong option.
Another combination that makes users think is using “Sign Up” and “Log In” together. This combination is more distinct than “Sign Up” and “Sign In”, but it still has some similarities. They both start with different verbs and end in two-letter prepositions that begin with a vowel. Users don’t have to think as much when they see this combination, but they still have to think a little. And that affects user performance.
The ideal combination is one that allows users to quickly distinguish one action from the other without thinking. The more similar your actions are, the harder it is to tell the difference between the two. You can make your sign up and sign in faster for users to process by using action phrases that are completely distinct from each other. For instance, combining “Sign In” with an action phrase like “Create Account” or “Join Now” is much clearer because there are no similarities between the two. They don’t use the same verbs like “Sign Up” and “Sign In”, and they both don’t end in similar prepositions like “Sign Up” and “Log In”.
The more similar two actions are, the slower it is for users to decide on an action. Choose words and phrases for your sign up and sign in that look distinctly different from each other. This distinctness prevents mental conflict and allows users to see the difference between the two actions without thinking. This little detail might seem minor, but most designers are smart enough to know that even little details can affect conversion rates.