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I am in the process of creating Forum Software and am now at the question of User Profiles. What should be customizable? What would a user expect?

From the top of my head I can think of:

  1. Display Name

  2. Title

Is it expected from a website to provide some sort of freely customizable "About Me" page? Would leaving it out raise some eyebrows? Should there be a dedicated page parallel to the user where they can put information about them? (Like a different tab?)

The reason I am asking is that if you visit another profile there can be various intents. But mostly one of contact information, or Statistics (how trustworthy is that user). Does it make sense to provide a large degree of freedom considering that one might be greeted with a distracting profile?

Or is the personal UX worth the possible trade off in readability.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

A forum's purpose is for users to communicate effectively, sharing ideas through posts and PMs. The features below should be implemented from descending priority:

  1. Email: In the case the user's address stops working, or has simply changed. Surprisingly, this happens very often.
  2. Avatar: One of the most customized features of any profile, avatars allow users to express a lot about their character (and the community).
  3. Signature: It won't be a priority for a professional community, but signatures allow users to advertise messages, threads and are one of the things that make forums addictive.

The above are the top three features that are mandatory in any forum software.

I would recommend looking at the features at IPBoard: http://www.invisionpower.com/apps/board/feature-list

Or perhaps try the vBulliten experience for yourself (4 is recommended).

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Start off with a simple User Profile update. Don't feel like you need to add everything in there that you can possibly think of. You can always add more to it later.

Starting with just "display name" and some "about me" information sounds like a great start for an update page.

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Well, the core data architecture of what is customizable seems a more appropriate question for Stack Overflow... But just think, we're on a kind of a forum now !

Often you'll find as your product aligns itself with your users, you will gain feedback and insights to your users unique behavior and make-up... Perhaps your particular brand has a tribal following and your users want to acquire weapons to brandish on their avatars, much like stack overflow lets you wear hat's you've earned... Without understanding your specific niche, and the culture around it, this is too open ended of a question.

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