In the situation where someone has not yet chosen to set some optional data (such as their display name, gender, or birthday), which term is the better description for the action which they take to add this information?

Edit: This is not about how to let someone change the data/information. It is about the term used to describe the action.

  • Are you also looking to encourage the addition of optional information?
    – Taj Moore
    Nov 30, 2011 at 17:28
  • Not as a part of this question, no.
    – JohnGB
    Dec 1, 2011 at 11:02

6 Answers 6

Many Approaches …

There are a number of ways to encourage users to enter optional data that are each valid and usable in their own different contexts. Here are some prototypical examples:

Edit Profile/Edit Account

A basic utility function. StackExchange places this in a utility navigation on the profile page. You might also expect to find it in a global utility nav. It's standard language and unambiguous … but I see it less and less, and you can probably do better.

Edit Your Information

A little more plain-language than "edit profile." It communicates the same concept but uses friendlier language. 37 Signals uses this on their profile page.

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Update Info

Facebook users this on their timeline page (what used to be the profile page).

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Complete Profile

This goes nicely with a profile completion meter to encourage users to fill in the remaining optional information. LinkedIn currently uses this in the right sidebar of the profile page.

Complete Profile on LinkedIn

Add [a thing] To Your Profile

Use a little alert box or widget to encourage users to add optional information piece by piece. LinkedIn currently uses this beneath your profile summary in the main column.

Add to Profile on LinkedIn

"Improve" Your Profile

This is language I've only seen used on LinkedIn. It uses a more positive connotation than "edit."

Improve Your Profile on LinkedIn


I think you just wrote the anser in your question:

which they take to add this information

Why not use Add? or Add information? - this was the phrase which came to your mind, when you described the desired action, and to mine as well. Maybe it could work! Because it is:

  • short
  • straightforward
  • a '+' icon is generally associated with it
  • easily understood by people.

I would recommend using an "Edit Profile" option.

"Edit Profile" is an easy to understand, common term used to incorporate a number of actions around this sort of data including, adding data, editing data or choosing what is displayed publicly/privately etc. on one's profile in a system.

For new users who do not have any data added to their profile, you can also include a 'hint' or prompt to draw them into the Editing area. for example "Add some information about yourself to complete your profile - [Edit Profile Link]".


I personally would prefer "choose". It sounds more polite to ask someone to choose an option than to set or edit field XY. Set and edit generally sound technical, so some user could be irritated.

Really good would it to get real data on this. On a live website I could imagine some A/B/C testing for this, if you want to get hard data and want to know it 100%.

  • 1
    Doesn't choose imply that they should choose between some options - like choosing a font size?
    – JohnGB
    Nov 30, 2011 at 12:30
  • You are right. For Gender - Male or Female - Choose seems appropriate, also for a nickname I think choose is the right wording. But you don't choose your birthday ;) In this case I would write "Enter". I think enter is more common than set or edit.
    – suzhi
    Nov 30, 2011 at 12:39
  • I think also "Enter" is a good wording. Another word is "Type".
    – sysscore
    Nov 30, 2011 at 13:47

Personal preference: Update Profile. It's the most informative yet neutral.


The goal is to lead your user to enter the expected data in the expected type.

So obviously you have to choose the proper component (date picker, radio for gender). But you are asking about defaults.

If your application is fun you could choose to lead the user via a concrete example:

  • Gender: [x] male [ ] female
  • First name: [Brad]
  • Last name: [Pitt]
  • Birthday: [1963-12-08][#]

And if the user change the gender:

  • Gender: [ ] male [x] female
  • First name: [Angelina]
  • Last name: [Jolie]
  • Birthday: [1975-06-04][#]

You can even pick your defaults given the local of the browser/application to be sure that the chosen people is well known. That helps a lot because, for instance, frenches has always trouble with first/last name in english. Here they know and they can learn than Brad is much older than Angelina!

  • The problem with this approach is that it might encourage lazyness. A user can just keep those default settings and submit.
    – F21
    Nov 30, 2011 at 12:09
  • The question is not about how to let people set the information. It is about what to call the action of setting the information.
    – JohnGB
    Nov 30, 2011 at 12:31

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