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Is it ever OK to truncate a username? Is there any good solution / trade-off?


Site shows username as: Username: Shrinivasuk View: Shrinivasu...

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Username: Ritesh View: Rite Username: Poonam View: Poona Username: Deepak View: Deepa Username: sourab View: sour

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What do you mean 'can it be truncated'. Clearly yes, it can. What exactly is the UX problem you're trying to solve? –  JonW Apr 4 '13 at 11:47
    
Isn't it misleading? Participants are Dilip, Sadiq,Anand,Rite,Poona,Atul,Deepa,Viraj,Sour (visible) different from their actual names. I think user don't go for the second fold unless he gets the right name –  Vipala Apr 4 '13 at 11:49
    
@JonW he wants to know if they should be allowed to be truncated. –  rk. Apr 4 '13 at 12:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

If at all possible, you should avoid truncating a unique name. Restricting usernames to a maximum length is one way of dealing with this.

However, if you have some very long usernames:

  • don't wrap the elipsis (…) to another line. This makes it appear at first glance that the full username is visible, and is likely to cause confusion.
  • you should make sure that selecting the name takes you to a profile for that user which contains their full username. If you don't do this, you make is even easier to impersonate other users and end up with a major administration hassle.
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+1 for impersonation –  New Alexandria Apr 4 '13 at 13:08

Truncating a username is a bad idea. Usernames are used to uniquely identify a person on your site, so if you're randomly hiding part of the name, that's defeating the whole purpose of the username.

With such a limited amount of space like the example posted here, it would be more effective to just get rid of the usernames altogether, and only show the pictures (linking to the profile on click, and tooltipping the username wouldn't hurt either).

If there is a little bit more space available, then @JohnGB's suggestion of not wrapping the ellipsis is critical. Maybe even fade out the username into the ellipsis to make it extra clear that something is missing. But this should be a rare occurrence. If usernames are frequently getting truncated, the design is broken.

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I'm tempted to write "not at all"... but in some cases as "Surio Mario Martinez Chuenez Ferdinando" could be necessary.

Username is/should/could be used as unique identifier so therefore should not be truncated by design.

Key solution for that is in restricting username to a certain length in the time of analysis and design to avoid the necessity of truncating it in some future report.

If the user is allowed to define a username (not the real name) as the example above, then it could be evaluated as the wrong design.

A workaround could be to display tooltip on mouseover... and if you are the developer, you should definitely see this thread

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I will not recommend truncating username. Some other way to avoid this issue is to impose a hard limit on the length of username.

Failing to do so will just introduce many other issues to system usability such as

  • inability to distinguish similar usernames that have been truncated
  • impersonation
  • increase chance of users committing errors (e.g. opening the wrong page)
  • confusion with elipsis
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