EDIT: Screenshots will be added soon to better explain the problem

I got a four step progress on a website signup page and have a 4 stepped progress bar to indicate where the user is currently at:

  • Step 1. Login Information
  • Step 2. Avatar Upload
  • Step 3. Account Created
  • Step 4. Additional Information

The issue I am currently facing is how to display the progress bar or if my progress is flawed as is.

Page 1/Step 1:
I indicate at the progress bar, that the user is at step 1 and that there are 3 more pages to go. The user is required to enter a username and a password, after which he may proceed to step 2. The account is fully completed at this point and the user may already log in.

Page 2/Step 2:
I indicate at the progress bar, that step 1 is completed, the user is at step 2 and that there are 2 more pages to go. The user may here upload an avatar to his account and proceed to step 3. The user may also skip this step entirely.

Page 3/Step 3:
I indicate at the progress bar, that step 2 is completed, the user is at step 3 and that there is 1 more page to go. This page is only showing that the account is generated and ready. The user may choose to either "Save" or go to an additional step to add even more information to his account.

Page 4/Step 4:
I indicate at the progress bar, that step 3 is completed, the user is at step 4 and that there are no more pages to go. Here the user may add a lot more information to the account, and may choose to either "Save" or go to the "Account Settings" page.

Is this really good UX? I really doubt it. Somehow this progress is flawed in my eyes. We even tried to split the account creation to the bare minimum (step 1 only) and have all the additional settings somewhere else, but due to the nature of the website, the avatar is essential to actually interact on the website. Signups weren't higher before, but the avatar upload did go down by 80%, leaving us with 80% of inactive new accounts. Integrating the Image Upload to Step 1 brought signups down by around 30%, so that's not an option either at this point (we A/B tested various image upload functions A LOT).

I am really running out of options now, and can't think of something to make it dead simple to understand what the steps should be and how to tell the user when exactly the account is ready to be used...

Any insights, thoughts, ideas, greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    Why is avatar essential, can't you use default avatar when the account is created?
    – Igor-G
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 13:23
  • yes, we do that. but each account is tied to a publicly viewable page that only displays the avatars... much like a shopping wall (or amazon's window shopping app) ...
    – David K.
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 13:45
  • an alternative to default avatar I like most is to show user's initials. For example, for my account it would be "AM" letters in place of avatar Commented May 19, 2015 at 6:12

1 Answer 1


For me as a user, I like the websites where it is possible to register in a simple and fast way. This usually means entering only the data needed to access the website (username, password and email). I only feel like I want to customize my profile when I actually enter the website and I see that I have an account, I am connected to the website.

So my suggestion is that you can stick with the step 1, ask for the minimum information, and after that you redirect the user to its profile page and suggest him to personalize it. This will give instant access to the user and encourage him to add additional data.

Other way to get avatars is by making it possible to register with, for instance, facebook or google accounts (but that only depends if your users are also users of these services).

  • let's assume my site is an online chat, where the main functionality is that the chatroom is filled with avatar profiles. No names, usernames, or other identifiable information is shown. We really dislike the option of going Gravatar-Style for uncompleted user profiles, but I assume this is the way to go then... We'll try that and A/B-test it ... I'll let you know how it worked out ...
    – David K.
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 12:46
  • 3
    @DKOATED why username/name is not shown? Relying only on images is not the best way to do this, there will be accessibility issues. Are you planning not to include any alt="" tags in the images?
    – Igor-G
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 13:25
  • point taken, imagine a ebay listing. sure, we can show a default avatar if the user skips the avatar upload, but the whole point of the site is to market the avatar image (much like ebay for instance).
    – David K.
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 13:43

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