No returning customers, Please.

There’s a new trend and it’s bugging the hell out of me.

I am a pretty digital consumer. Like most I have some kind of music subscription service, sometimes a VOD-service as well. I occasionally rent movies from itunes. Most of my music production tools are solely digital. I’ve bought licenses for all sorts of plugins for video production for my company. I even subscribe to a few applications to help organize my work and my life better. I am a pretty digital customer – and as such I notice when things change for better and for worse with these digital service providers.

One of the worst trends that I’ve noticed lately is the (probably unintentional) hatred for returning customers. Today I was going to resubscribe to a gamified cycling simulator called Zwift and were confronted with this:

The onboarding is obviously made for new customers. Nothing wrong with that. But how the hell do I login as a returning customer? A good guess would be that the login is in the hamburger menu. So that’s where I went, and I found this:

Ignore the fact that the layout is a complete waste of space. What’s more important is that at a first glance I completely missed the login button, as I assumed that it would be in the actual menu. And well, it doesn’t really stand out either. So there I was, looking for a way to log in so that I could start paying for a service. I decided to have a look at the footer and well, no luck there either:

After a good five minutes I found the login button. Zwift is a really good product, and the only reason I didn’t give up looking for it was because I really wanted to subscribe to specifically Zwift. Would it have been a service that I don’t care too much about, I would likely have given up.

Then we have another favorite of mine. Vimeo.

Vimeo is a service that basically everyone working in corporate and commercial film are using to share work with clients, as well as to publish previous work. Once upon a time I was a Vimeo subscriber, but as I don’t work in video production too much anymore I have no actual need to subscribe. However – sometimes I want to login anyway to look at some of my old work. If you aren’t already logged in, this is what you get to see:

Ok. So how do I login here?

First I scroll down to the footer. Nothing:

Then I scroll up, and get this:

Well, there’s the login button, great!

I decided to close it to find the “real way” of logging in. So I opted for clicking at the Vimeo logo, and well, it wasn’t even possible to click. So I tried the different clickable options instead, and well, it turns out that wherever I go I get prompted to log in instead of buying something – but I have to press on “buy something” to get the option to log in. These are the different variations of login “buttons”:

But there are no dedicated login button for the occasionally returning customer. So you have to choose something you don’t want to do, to get the option to do what you want to do.


Both of these companies are companies that obviously care about design. Their webpages are beautiful, and in many ways pretty functional, so it seems strange why they would have such a trash onboarding for returning customers. To me there are a number of reasons to why we see these kinds of designs emerging.

  1. Companies want their new customers to buy, and they don’t really care about their old customers too much.
  2. Companies assume that returning customers are logged in already.
  3. I use an odd screen format that consumers rarely log in from, hence companies neglect designing for that use case.

Reason 3 may be true in the case of Zwift as the real desktop version of it looks like this (with a login button at top right):

However I have a pretty big screen, so I put windows side by side, which in some cases makes me end up on layouts that were intended for tablets. In the case of Vimeo however, the design remains the same on either format.


Design is about prioritizing, and you can’t design for everyone, but this is such a trivial thing and could be easily fixed without any real implications on aesthetics. Here are two beautiful mockups – free of charge!

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