Our system header currently displays an icon and a username, as seen below:

current design - header collapsed

For reasons of accessibility and clarity of purpose I have re-designed it to display a clearer call to action, as seen below:

proposed design - header collapsed

proposed design - header expanded

I think that the proposed design is much clearer but it did get me wondering: has there been any research done on the value of displaying a username at the top of the page for settings? This is an internal system with single sign on, so a user being on their machine means that they are logged into this system.


1 Answer 1


Yes, users need to know when they are logged in and when they're not. They need a logged in state.

The appeal of having the username listed inside the navigation is that you can both communicate that the user is logged in, but you can also contain any user specific pages within it. This can be a profile, user settings, dashboard and so on. It also feels more personal if you are being identified with your personal name or username, than if you remain anonymous. Whether that's important for your application is up to you.

Replacing the user name with settings will introduce the problem that a user cannot easily tell if they are logged in or not. The solution you had before may not be the optimal one, but it does communicate better. Users can still tell that they can change user settings if they click on it. Even if you cannot use the application without logging in, you still benefit from having your name listed (again, if you have things like profiles and such).

  • I'm not sure how this answer's the OP's question "has there been any research done on the value of displaying a username at the top of the page for settings?" Can you clarify how your answer addresses that?
    – user
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 15:39
  • I am looking for sources that support this approach, but this is what I've been taught at my design agency. It works for our conversion better than leaving it out, but it still remains anecdotal. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 15:42
  • Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the question, but as I read it OP is asking whether replacing the username with settings on all pages is a wise decision. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 15:49
  • I read the quoted sentence as asking for research results and similar, not what someone or another feels should be done.
    – user
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 16:07
  • Thanks Wanda, I understand your point and it makes sense however this is a system where they will automatically be logged in as part of being signed in to their desktop. Thoughts?
    – J4G
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 23:05

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