I am working on a blog like site where the user can register and write stuff. I want to keep a minimalist registration/sign up process.

I am thinking I will use email/password for signup/registration. The user can then enter a "pen name". Unlike username, this will be kind of like a "pseudo real name" (with spaces, for e.g).

I want to allow the user to be able to change the pen name if required. This means login will always be based on email/password. Is this a normal practice? I see a lot of sites say they can login using username OR email...

Also will this be a problem if in the future I want to integrate social login? Most important of all, as users, what do you think?

Any comments are welcome...

  • Would the 'pen name' have to be unique? There are many sites (Stack Exchange being one of them) where usernames are not unique. But in such situations you cannot log in with that username, only with email (or openID).
    – JonW
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:02
  • Your title and your post don't seem to match. It seems you've already made your mind up and then asked a couple different questions. Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:34
  • @JonW - I am not sure if it can be made unique, considering it is like (and could be) a person's (pseudo) name... Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:39
  • @CodeMaverick - I have an idea in mind, and all I did is requested feedback about what others think about it. I am open to suggestions - do you have any? Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 13:40

3 Answers 3


Should you have both pen name and email from the user?

-> Yes.

Should you have both pen name and email from the user during registration?

-> No.

On one hand, I'd agree that having pen name makes referring to the user more casual (e.g. the system can refer to them using their first name), displaying settings and profiles easier (e.g. using the name as link to profile pages).

On the other hand, the registration step is something I'd really like to simplify. Asking as little information as possible and get them going as fast as possible. Even though pen name is just another field, removing it would still make the registration come across as faster (especially as you said, pen name is not required for subsequent logins). You can always let users fill in their pen name later once they're using the application. Gamify it by using a progress bar that tells them their profile is not complete yet (e.g. LinkedIn), or by showing a "Undefined pen name" label that stands out to let them know they should do it.

  • Very good suggestions! A progress bar seems like a good idea! Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 21:03

It is common practice.

The email is needed in case the user forgets their password, and for reply notifications, etc.

The username is a familiar handle that isn't their email address, maybe their online pseudonym.

You can log the users in via email or username, as you're relying on them entering the correct password.

For user registration, the minimum information you need is an email address and password, but do store a username too, as it's the norm and people wouldn't want their email address to be publicly visible next to their avatar, etc.


As Son Do Lenh pointed out you don't need to fill in the user's pen name or other details are registration time. Everybody likes to "complete" their profile because there's a sense of achievement associated with completing something and getting encouraging or congratulating feedback whilst progressing. These are dirty UX tricks but they work!

Some websites even let you create content before you need to register, and ask you to provide an email and password when you're ready to submit it so you already have valuable assets to return to and you're more willing to create an account. This may or may not apply to your blog.

Finally, note that with regards to privacy and security usernames are useful when disclosing the email address of your users would be dangerous or embarrassing. I would assume that a blogging platform would not have so much of an issue... However if your platform is designed for risky populations (e.g. human rights activists) you may want to hide their email address and provide a login ID. Email account compromises are the most harmful to users (because they can be used to get hold of every other Web account with a password reset form).

  • Nice points but I wouldn't call them "dirty UX tricks" though. They are there not to do something the "dirty" way or under the table. Instead, they help users to achieve things they want quicker, and not bothering their flow of thoughts. That is to help them, not to trick them. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 18:26
  • You're right that in many cases these methods are here to help users get started using a service. My viewpoint comes from being a security engineer: most websites that I see that require me to complete a profile want to know more about me because they can resell/reuse my data for targeted advertising and online tracking. Because of that I tend to see these methods as being indeed dirty: they're not always used for the users' benefit. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 19:07

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