More and more social platforms have your name, after login, in the top right corner next to an arrow or icon where one can access settings, log out and other items.

In many cases I also see the usage of either an avatar / picture or the Facebook picture (if using FB login).

Personally I don't see the point of seeing picture of myself in the header at all times. Does anyone know if there has been done any research on the effect of showing the picture here?

Is there any point in showing the picture next to your name in the header?

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    Since the very selling point of Facebook and friends seems to be catering to the motive of self-aggrandizement, photos of "ME" are an important item in this strategy. Please note that I have never used FB nor visited its pages, thus this is all hearsay and innuendo :) May 24, 2013 at 11:54

3 Answers 3


Well, face is a much faster and intuitive way to identify yourself, than just a name. Also, it's much harder to ignore by habit. This is good, since the login information is there also to make sure you notice if you've accidentally opened your living partner's account (by going to the site on a browser that remembers the previous session).

I would guess it's also a very natural way to link to a personal profile, since your profile is about you.

As for research into what the picture does in terms of user involvement, site commitment, or such, I don't have information. Interesting question, I hope someone has a good reply to that part!


Showing you a picture of yourself (or a placeholder) serves as a reminder of what other people see when they look at your postings. If you don't see yourself as other people see you, or if you have to explicitly activate a "view as" mode (as in facebook), you have less incentive to update or extend your profile.

Social platforms encourage you to present yourself to others (and to the platform) in as rich a form as possible-- it underlies both their appeal and their business strategy. Presenting you with your missing or outdated profile icon is a great way to nudge you toward updating it-- and certainly less annoying than putting up a banner like "Your profile is 40% complete" (common) or "You haven't changed your picture in 3 months, isn't it time for a fresh look?" (hypothetical, because seeing your picture is apparently sufficient incentive).


Is there any point in showing the picture next to your name in the header?

Yes, picture next to your name is acting as an icon. If your question is "should there be an icon next to your Profile link" then again yes, having an icon next to important links and buttons is helpful and Personal Details section qualifies to carry one.

showing the picture next to your name

Let me rephrase this question to "Should there be your picture instead of an icon?" Lets look at some alternates and options we have here. Lets use an actual icon for instance.

enter image description here

But a natural question would be, should this image be that of a male or female or a neutral one?

enter image description here

  • And what about age, ethnicity and regional aspects?
  • What about personalizing user's experience and helping the user build a connection with the app and its content?.
  • Should you not use user's image as an icon?

When you use personal image as an icon, you cover all these concerns. Thus it is good to have icon next to your profile section AND it is good to have your own image next to profile instead of any graphic icon.

Hope this answers your question.

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    This does not seem to answer the question. The OP seems to be talking about actual avatars/profile pictures showing a user added custom image, whereas your answer concerns the placeholder images for cases where user hasn't yet added a custom one for themselves. May 24, 2013 at 11:21
  • Doesn't answer the question, but actually very good points
    – Baumr
    May 24, 2013 at 12:23

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