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I am currently designing a form for a registration to a portal which contains very personal information. I am exploring the idea of having a suggested username(s) to be presented to the user to choose if they struggle to create their own one.

There are two reasons for this: 1. The people using it are older, 50-60 years old and are not so tech savvy. 2. Due to the average age of the people using it, I want to to make the Registration as seamless as possible and reduce errors while choosing a username.

My question is: Are there any good conventions for displaying this in forms?

  • What is the use of usernames? Are they ever publicly displayed or only used to log in? Could an email address suffice? – Levano Jun 4 at 9:52
  • Yes, some users share email addresses with partners and some of the information they have in this portal they dont want partners privy to, so a unique username allows them to keep it to themselves and not use email addresses where partners could find this information through either notifications or password resets etc. – UIO Jun 4 at 10:29
  • If the users are sharing email addresses, I don't think you're going to be able to keep the usernames private. What if someone with a shared email account tries to sign up after the other email account user? I'm assuming they'll get a message saying the email address is already registered, they'll then click the forgotten username link, and get emailed the other person's username. As for the actual question itself (comment rather than answer, as purely anecdotal) but I've seen first letter of forename + surname + 3 random digits, e.g. John Doe would receive suggestion jdoe937 – crazyloonybin Jun 4 at 11:44
  • @crazyloonybin Good point but with this tool its unlikely that partners or spouses will even know of this portal with the value of its content so high, there are alot of users who keep it a secret. Im wondering how this would be displayed in the form. – UIO Jun 4 at 12:11
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I'd say the basis is auto-increment and would stick with that. Personally, I couldn't imagine the depth of work needed to make a name suggestion system useable would be worth the time investment. At the very least, a numeric value appended to a username is not unexpected, and more commonly represents the already incremented, unique user ID.

Mostly, we see the suggestion "name-01" and just create another name because "name" was taken, or we just don't care enough.

My suggestion for username convention:

// If I can view only my user name.

  • Display - "Me"
  • Database - "me-123"

// If I can view many similar user names displayed, always show the unique ID.

  • Display - "Me 123"
  • Database - "me-123"

As long as I have an option to try again, the bases are covered. *The user ID will always be consistent.

If this is a feature you're marketing to users, then the importance definitely goes up!

(I really want to login with my email and have all my stuff private to that email. Never two logins. :)

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