Using "Sign in" vs using "Log in"
Is there any research in this area, it seems "Sign in" is more common and hence more recommended.
I rather use `Log in/out` and `register` instead of `Sign in/out` and `Sign up`. The `Sign xx` notation seems confusing to me.
It's really hard for a non native english speaker to distinct sign up/sign in/sign out so I'd suggest to go for sign up/log in/log out.
In "Homepage Usability", Jakob Nielsen (together with Marie Tahir, 2002, p. 53) recommends the use of "sign in" / "sign out" over "log in" / "log out". This is empirically based on a survey of several large-scale websites and thus supports OP's "more common" argument.
Furthermore, I second @Dan Barak in that you should use "Register" or "Join [your-service-here]" as opposed to "sign up" in order to avoid unnecessary confusion. (I cannot recall whether Nielsen and Tahir had any recommendations regarding this issue, though.)
I agree there is confusion with the `Sign in` and `Sign up`, I rather use `register` instead.
I guess the survey was targeted to english native speakers, because phrasal verbs are by far the most difficult thing to grasp for foreigners. To me, the difference between sign up and sign in is small.
Great answer, but I wonder whether there's a more recent research, since Nielsen himself admits that some usability recommendations change over time.
Agreed with @Yosef... The source quoted was from 2002, when the internet was just a baby.
I think "common use" is a pretty poor argument here. Plenty of UX antipatterns are in common use, with the better alternatives represented far less. It's quite possible that designers use "sign up/sign in", because they like the symmetry, but that it it increases the cognitive load and probability of capture slips.
I think the issue of using human language rather than system language is a factor here.... log in is a very terminal focussed language. Sign in though...more standard even away from computers
While I don't have a very strong opinion here, I would bear in mind:
- Sign In and Sign Up are quite close.
Users might click one instead of the other sometimes.
Either you make the difference more evident by location or graphics, or you could also use "Register or "Join" instead.
- Make sure you stay consistent with the log out vs. sign out.
Dan's answer is pretty complete, but I'd add one more detail: "Log in" is a valid verb where "Login" is a valid noun. "Signin", however, isn't a valid noun. On the other hand, "Signup" and "Sign up" have the same relationship, and if you use "Log in", you'll probably use "Register" as opposed to "Sign up". Then there's also "Log on" and "Logon", and of course "Log off" or "Log out". Errrr.
- Sign In and Sign Up are quite close.
Here's a good overview on how a few popular sites are using Sign in, Log in etc. Login/Logout vs Sign In/Sign Out vs Log in/Sign out – A short roundup
Interesting that most of their URLs go to /login even though the words of the link say "Sign In". I suppose /sign_in is a little unwieldy as a url.
Or perhaps the developers think in terms of "log in" but the interface designers think in terms of "sign in."
Since the server seems to be down: http://0xtc.com/2009/06/25/login-logout-vs-sign-in-sign-out-vs-log-in-sign-out-a-short-roundup.xhtml/" target="_blank">cached archive.org version
I think that this article about the “Sign Up” button is interesting, the author changed the “Sign Up” button to “Try it Free” and clicks increased by 212%.
His thesis is that the standard “Sign Up” buttons don’t work because “they ask for blind commitment” and “do not offer any value”.
Visitors also “see common elements repeated on many sites” and “they begin unconsciously ignoring those elements (aka “habituation”)”.
- Tie it to your product. If you have a SaaS for trading bitcoins: “Start Trading Bitcoins.” If you have a marketplace for artists: “Start Selling Art.” This helps prevent the button from being overlooked.
- Give, don’t take. “Get Access” and “Sign Up” both lead to the same thing, but one makes the visitor feel they’re getting something, while the other doesn’t.
- Compel people to act. Use action verbs such as get, start, and try.
Of course there are many variables to consider (what kind of website is yours? Changing the label of the button increases clicks, but what about new subscriptions? etc.) but it may be worth having a look at it.
Use Log in to avoid capture slips
I would be very careful with the "common usage" argument. For example: the use of sign up and sign in has a very pleasant symmetry which doubtless appeals to many people. Unfortunately, this symmetry reduces the difference by which the user recognizes the button she needs to just two letters. It's very easy to click sign up when you meant sign in.
Ultimately, the fact that everybody does it, doesn't mean that it's good UX. There's plenty of terrible UX patterns that are conventions. (Confirmation dialogs, anyone?)
For the reasons above, I would not use any option with sign in it: even if you go with "sign up/log in", the fact that it's so close to "sign in" means the user has to pay more attention, even if she makes the right choice in the end.
If you use "register/log in", there is no chance of confusion, and you lighten the cognitive load.
Similarly, if you use `register` / `sign in` you avoid confusion, but you *also* fit common usage.
The suggestion to use "Log" is based on a conflation between "Sign *up*" and "Sign *in*". While there does exist such a confusion, it is not a valid argument to prefer "Log" in this case.
I agree consistency is key.
This means not just consistent within your own site but with the general web (if it's a web based app)
I believe you can't be too far from the 'norm' following the example of google, yahoo, etc.
Google: Sign Out, Sign In, "Create an account"
Yahoo: Sign Out, Sign In, "Sign up for a new account"
Just on a gut feeling - I would rather prefer using "Sign in", "Sign out" and "Register/Join/Create account" variation over "Log in".
Mostly because "Logging" something does not really convey the meaning of "entering" quite the same way as "sign in" does.
I can log any daily event, but that is just a mention of a fact while when I sign in at the door of an office building, I am giving my signature that I have entered the building and when I "sign out", I am also recording the fact that I am leaving the building...
+1 - I would also go as far as to say that it 'sounds' a little bit more secure to "sign" into something; people are quite used to signing things safely in the real life.
On the contrary. **Logging in** is exactly what we do when we enter our credentials on a website. We actually make an entry into the *log* before entering the system. @Ronal Tepp's answer is exactly what the answer *shouldn't* be.
Oh @ShreyasTripathy, you are so sure that one way of expressing this concept is so much superior to the other, that you are ready to crucify anybody holding an opposite opinion... Really constructive ...
I personally prefer the Log In / Sign Up combination. My justification for this is that the Sign In and Sign Up will confuse people, it becomes harder for them to find what each button means unless they reach the end of the word.
Log In is pretty standard and gets the job done and takea away the confusion as well.
As a fairly old Englishman I've grown up understanding that signing up meant you were entering some kind of contract requiring your signature. Often these contracts or agreements had some legal obligations attached so when ever I see "Sign up" it makes me nervous.
On the other hand ,"Sign in", to me means something completely different only used to indicate a visit. No legal or binding connections.
In light of the fact that there's so much subjective opinion on this topic, I'd like to call for standardization, perhaps by W3 as part of their WCAG accessibility guidelines. The lack of a standard makes this a real problem for blind and vision impaired users who typically use a search tool to find the login link (or button). Having to search in turn for "sign in", "log in", "signin", and "login" (all of which I've personally seen) is frustrating and time consuming.