Editing of profile details

26 Jan 2010 - 8:59pm
6 years ago
1 reply
662 reads
Edo A. Elan

One approach to editing profile details (title, status, address,
mission statement, etc.), is to edit them in place, AJAX-style. An
alternative approach is to use a specialized page, tab or pop-up,
with some variation of a "submit" action. I am designing an
interface for a project in a corporate environment, and I find that
as the data gets more complex, it's not easy to choose the correct
approach, or to mix and match. When i look for examples from teams I
follow (Facebook and LinkedIn come to mind) it seems to me they have
similar headaches.

I am looking for an example of a very slick "web 2.0" solution in a
mainstream platform with moderately complex data (managing lists of
items, not just name-and-address-and-photo).

I am also wondering what can these days be assumed about the
familiarity of the general public with Facebook and LinkedIn (for
example). Would you require editing on-place in the way Facebook
does, if you were designing for different age groups?

Your thoughts?


27 Jan 2010 - 3:30am
Ari Tenhunen

Good question

Maybe there is not one and only correct answer to this question. I
think the main thing is maintaining the consistency of the methods.
Similar operations should always look and feel the same to the user
so that he can utilize his prior experience and knowledge.

You can introduce new use methods if they simplify the user
experience. But you cannot underestimate the users ability to
understand the meaning of the interface. Sometimes simplifying may
make things worse because you have to unlearn the old complicated

You might have to explain some methods explicitly.

It also depends on whether the service is for one-time users or for
recurring use. You can teach new tricks (not too complicated) to
regular users.

You need to step in the shoes of the weakest user (if you deem
him/her important). Specifying user personas helps. Would your granny
be able to use it? How would you descripe the main example users?

Should the user make profile updates in pop-up or in the same place?
I prefer editing things in the same place. It is natural. But I still
use both approaches. I prefer making content updates directly in the
content. Profile details can be updated in a different page or pop-up
window or layer because this data is often displayed in several places
and profile data often contains details and information which is not
shown to all user groups. Still it can be a good idea to enable
updating someprofile data directly in the actual place where it is

You need to make the editing state visible to user so that he/she
always knows what exactly is happening and what is he/she required to

I also think it is important to minimize the stages in the processes.
And if the operation has several steps, user should be told how many
steps is there going to be, what do each step mean, in which stage of
the process he is currently, and get a confirmation of succesful data
update in the end.

Whatever approach you choose - be consistent, do not assume that all
users automatically understand what to do and in which order.

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