“Good design is easy to digest—the brain shouldn’t have to expend a ton of energy to figure out what the heck it’s looking at. With any luck, people will just “get it” without needing a 6-section explanation.”
Someone famous (or at least clever – please comment if it was you!)
For user accounts, the default user experience should be as elegant and as simple as possible. This animation below, goes some way to filtering down what was essentially the most simple mobile navigation I could get stockholders to agree on. As always, there will be compromises, (inline personal information editing. for example) but overall keep the Three Little Rules (scroll down) front and foremost.
Three little rules
Online accounts give users privacy, control and a personalised experience. Account management is a necessary evil. Except when it goes wrong, no user likes or cares about account management, they just want to access the service.
You can make account management less evil by following three little rules:
- Don’t make the user guess – Almost every service on the web handles account management slightly differently. As a result, you have to be explicit about the requirements for your service. Otherwise, you’re just being cruel.
- Balance security with usability – Often, security folk will insist on an approach that compromises the user experience. This is foolish, because poor usability will lead to workarounds, and workarounds in turn lead to weakened security. Instead, aim for a design that is both secure and usable.
- Keep it simple – Account management is one of your biggest potential barriers to usage. Make the barrier practically invisible through a simple, seamless, pain-free design.
What the hell is it?
A user account should provide the following static, user-specific content:
- Personal Information / Contact Information
- Security Information
- Links to members-only content areas
- Deposit and withdraw, bonuses and global settings
Making it Useful
So now that we know some of the things that should go in a user account, how can we help users access their account?
Dedicate a link to the account. Most users expect to access their account information via the top right or top left corner of a website, with the preference being the top right. Of five sites we recently surveyed, all users expected to see their account information in the top-right-hand corner of their website. Designers can either use a “Hub and Spoke” architecture—a landing page that links out to individual sections—or use a drop-down menu to give the user all of the choices at a glance.
Here’s a list of best practices that make user accounts more usable:
- Inline Editing
- Safe Editing (Undo features)
- Reading a users account information back to them later.
- Delete/Save/Export/Import Options
- Security Features
- A User’s history
- A User’s content submitted into the system (reviews, comments, pictures, etc)
This is but a another contribution to the design community by spindlelegs. Please leave a content or message direct at email@example.com