Being Visible, Or My Theory On Avatars

Avatars is what profile pictures are called. [Just in case :)]

If you use an avatar, you’re involved in some form of social interaction. That interaction is a form of social media. Whether you are on twitter or the local ferret forum you are in a community, being social and publishing.

You Are Known By Your Avatar And Name

You are known within that community by your name and your avatar. On popular social sites and services there will be many users listed together. The “Who Dugg This” panel on Digg is an extremely good example:

The Who Dugg It panel on Digg
The Who Dugg It panel on Digg

It is much easier to spot someone if they have an avatar that sticks out, even at 16×16 pixels.

Be Consistently Visible

If you use many social sites and services where you have the same friends, it makes sense to have the same avatar so they can spot you in the crowd. Wherever possible use the same username too. If someone else has already got your username of choice at least your avatar will let them know it’s you. After all, they are friends with you, not your username. It’s all about people.

Very Visible Avatars

Avatars which work well are highly visible. To test my theory I’d like to conduct a little experiment with you.

Andrew Burnett is a very common name. Unfortunately “andrewburnett” was taken on Digg so I had to choose another username. The experiment is very simple:

What is my username in the picture at the top of this post?:

andrewburnett avatar
andrewburnett avatar

Is Being Visible Important?

You tell me, I know I’d like people to be able to spot me quickly.

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  1. Andrew

    Good, practical common sense advice that most people (including me probably) won’t follow. That tends to be what happens with common sense advice.

    Like Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule for pitching to VC’s the other day. 10 slides, 20 minutes, minimum 30 point font size. Most people won’t implement that advice either.

    I also really like your little test to prove your theory. I did remember your Digg name.


  2. Thanks Phil :) I missed that from Guy Kawasaki it makes abundant sense. Like you say most people won’t follow the advice, but that actually benefits those of us who do ;)


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