# User Profile, My Account, or just Settings?

I am writing a little webapp, and am stuck on a UI hangup. I have a global menu bar at the top of the screen, that when the user is signed in consists of:

• Signed in as Joe User (with username as link to account page)
• My Account
• Sign Out

My question is about the second item. It takes you to a screen where you can edit your user profile details (name, email, etc.) and change your password. But it will also eventually allow you to do things like upgrade your account to a pay version, enter payment details, manage other users who are attached to your account, etc.

Originally I was going to have a separate 'User Profile' and 'My Account' links, but I think this is way too ambiguous for most users.

Does the whole 'My Account' thing make sense? Would just 'Account' be a more standard way of doing things? Or should I split these back into two?

## 7 Answers

Simple is better. And i think the "My" is not necessary.

Authenticated view:

Not authenticated view:

log in

• The simplicity of this makes a lot of sense to me. I like the idea of bringing it down to just two menu items. One issue though is that in an effort to make sign up as frictionless as possible, people can sign up with just an email address, no first/last name required (they can add these later though). Do you think the following looks awkward then: joe@example.com's account | log out ? If so, any recommendation on an alternative? – DomoDomo Sep 7 '10 at 2:47
• not really that awkward – Adam Ramadhan Sep 7 '10 at 7:18
• Could you provide some reasoning why you think this is better? eg. some research or references – Rahul Sep 7 '10 at 12:05
• @DomoDomo: Great idea with the email-only sign up option. Simply grad everything before the @ symbol. So for joe@example.com the UI could be joe's account | log out – cottsak Oct 28 '10 at 6:37
• .. joe.smith@example.com >> joe.smith's account | log out seems ok too so i think this is acceptable. Also, i've seen it used exactly like this before on other sites. So i'm not the only one. – cottsak Oct 28 '10 at 6:39

This is an easy thing to test with some inexpensive card-sorting research. Include the future features and functions, as well, and ask users to organize the cards into groups. These groups inform your decision about what to put on your global menu bar.

Cards. In addition to the tasks for which users would come to your site (Look up recipes…? Watch videos…?) you'd have a separate card for Change your password, Upgrade your account to a pay version, Enter payment details, Manage other users attached to your account, and so on.

Questions. With one participant at a time, ask them to sort the cards into groups. Then there are some follow-up questions you could ask them that will help you answer your own menu-bar question:

• At the end of round 1, ask the participant to name the groups. Don't get too hung up on the specific names. Instead, think about the meaning of each name and look for trends across all participants.
• For round 2, ask the particpant to sort the cards into three groups. Once that's done, ask for possible names of the three groups. If they fail, you'll have learned something. If they succeed, you'll have learned something.

If you do this research with members of your product's target audience, then you'll get better results than by asking a bunch of people like us for their uninformed opinions. (I say "uninformed" because we don't know who your users are or what your app will do.) With a little bit of research, you can get it right.

• +1 it's a valuable answer! Online (remote) card-sorting are also interested. Are there any tools that are doing this? – igor Sep 7 '10 at 13:47
• Thanks for your considerate response. I have more of a hypothesis about who my audience will be, than an actual audience at this point. I'm could scrape together random subjects, but do you think this approach would be worthless at that point? – DomoDomo Sep 8 '10 at 2:34
• I saw your other post about the need for defining audience in questions. My webapp is a helpdesk app for small businesses. So my audience is two fold, small business owners who need to help customers, and those customers (my customer's customers). Unfortunately, I don't have access to either yet. So to my previous comment, would that still be valuable? I know it's lame that I haven't done my customer development homework and have no access to flesh and blood customers yet, but that's the brutal truth :( – DomoDomo Sep 8 '10 at 2:43
• It's difficult when your strength lies in one area (say, development), and not another (say, marketing research). One of the more important things I learned in business school was to get someone else to do the stuff you're no good at. Do you now anyone who can help you? – JeromeR Sep 9 '10 at 7:27
• In other words, if you're not sure of your customers (who are not necessarily the same people as your users, though they may work for the same companies), then your chances of success are lower. Do you want to be able to say "I developed a webapp," or do you want to be able to say: "I made some money"? Either path can feel like success to you. – JeromeR Sep 9 '10 at 7:34

I'd say that it depends on the app and audience. For something social, I'd opt for <User>'s Account whereas for a game, I'd use Settings and for a business app, Options is perfectly buttoned up.

• It's a helpdesk app for small businesses, so while the people operating it might be business app savvy, their customers might not be. If "<User>'s account" is an acceptable standard people have learned from social apps, then I think it makes sense to use it here. Thanks! – DomoDomo Sep 7 '10 at 2:53

It depends upon the type of webapp.

• If you are an email provider use @idophir's idea.
• If your website has something to do with fun and Social, use 'Profile'
• If your website is a forum or a service that doesn't give any importance to user's identity, use Account or settings. (But the user's are not so likely to go to the settings section)

How about:

you@yourdomain.com [Account] | Logout

"Account" can be Settings or Options. Whichever term you select, it should be blue and underlined so users will know it is a link.

I cannot see why you would separate them.

I wouldn't know on which page I could change my email address, so I would probably have to check both.

On key element to think about is that the term "Settings" refers to the software not the user.

So you may find that you have two unique menu items.

Profile, Account, etc. refer strictly to my information such as who I am, my username, password.

Some could argue that Settings are specific to the user by saying that these are my settings that I want when I use the software.

The key is that "Settings" are unique to the individual software and are not portable to another application. Whereas the user's information which is holey unique to the user is.

As far as what to use between "Account", "Profile", etc. that's really more an issue of voice. Unless of course you start to add MY and Your in front of any of these then that's entirely different thread of conversation.