Changing Usernames

1 Mar 2012 - 8:43am
4 years ago
1 reply
454 reads

Hi all

Im an interaction/ux designer with a background in graphic design, so have limited technical knowledge when it comes to development. My client, who is a large website with alot of registered members, wants to know the best practise around allowing users to change their usernames. The reason is that their customers are complaining that their usernames are too long when they have to use touchscreens, when they were fine to type out on a keyboard, so want to be able to change their usernames.

Your comments would be much appreciated!



6 Mar 2012 - 1:12am
Alan Hogan

Things to watch for:

1. Carefully consider whether an “abandoned” username can be claimed by other users . This is kind of like stealing an identity. AFAIK, best practice would usually be requiring manual (admin) override to allow this, and defaulting to “no.”

2. If users can change their usernames as many times as they want, depending on how many users you have and the policy you chose for #1 above, this could potentially waste usernames / be abused.

3. Not specifically related to changing usernames, but I like to blacklist usernames that could be potentially confusing if seen in a URL: "help", "company," "about", <site or company name>, etc.

It’s interesting to consider Facebook and Twitter’s policies here (Facebook allows you to change your username exactly once). But again, Facebook is truly Internet-scale, with almost a billion users. Obviously, their contraints here are fairly unique.

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