Beta This is new guidance. Complete our quick 5-question survey to help us improve it.

This guide explains how to ask users to create a username.

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

To pass point 13 (make the user experience consistent with GOV.UK) in your service assessments, you must use GOV.UK design patterns and guidance.

Read the guide on using, adapting and creating design patterns before you start designing or building anything.

Email addresses as usernames

You should use email addresses for usernames because:

  • they’re memorable
  • they’re usually unique
  • it’s easier than having create a unique username
  • you often need to ask for them anyway

Remember that not everyone has or wants to use an email address. The number of users without access to email will differ from service to service.

You should do research to understand this group and have a plan for helping them to use your service.

User-generated usernames

You should only ask users to create their own usernames if your service contains user-generated content that requires attributing. For example, a blog with comments.

User-generated usernames are harder to create and easier to forget than email addresses.

You need to:

  • tell people whether their proposed username is unique
  • suggest unique ones for them, in some cases
  • make sure people can retrieve or reset their username

Always let people make changes

Whatever approach to usernames you take, make sure you let people change their email address or username.

Service-generated tokens

If users are unlikely to access your service more than once, it may be easier to give them a unique reference instead of forcing them to create a username.

Unique references are hard to remember so you should email or SMS them to the user.

Discuss usernames

Discuss asking for usernames on the design patterns wiki.

You may also find these guides useful:

Published by:
Design community
Last update:

Guidance first published