Importance of an Avatar in the New UI/UX on Twitch

By 27 April, 2017 No Comments

With the change in the new UI/UX on Twitch a few things have changed and one of those is the importance of the avatar or profile image. You know that little thing that’s at the top of your Twitch page or your profile image on your Twitter page.

What now?

Avatars have always been important in terms of recognition. Even if some streamers have a tendency to change them on a whim and in turn losing a lot of engagment and interaction for awhile while users notices that it’s actually you. After all humans use vision to read a page and not words. We’re going to look at the picture before the name and if we don’t recognize, what you normally use, someone might walk past it.

With the changes made to the Twitch UI/UX they’ve made the avatar even more important. You now need to be quickly recognized with a 30px little icon — that’s only slightly bigger than a Twitch emote. We used to have a whole bar that would show what game and the name of your channel. However now, you most likely, going to see people use the icon only version.

What does this mean to you as a streamer? Your icon or avatar is now even more important ever before. You need to have something that’s both eye catching in a small version as well as easy to remember. This is constant battle in logo and avatar design. You’re not going to find a lot of designers out there that understands these small differences. But these are the core principles in professional logo design.

The core principles

Big and small

An avatar or a logo should work at any size. That means that it should work as 30 feet by 3o feet as well as 30px by 30px. That means that using a full body image or logos that normally are very wide, wouldn’t work the best in a smaller format.

Luckily we’ve abandoned the whole “one logo” thing. As design is more digital than ever before we no longer need to constrain it to the print world. After all a logo change can be as simple as changing the icon on a website or replace the image in your email signature.

Instead we’ve moved towards something called a logo system (in combination with a brand system) that allows for a more flexible solution. This goes beyond having a wide version, color alternatives or icon versions. Even if those are a great start and probably where you want to start when having a logo created. If the designer you’ve select isn’t even thinking about these things you might need to reconsider you investment into them.

A logo system is more so rules and guidelines for how you can use your logo in different ways. But also how you can use it in different situations. The important part in a logo system is the story. The story is, as you know, also a very important part in a brand. So therefore it’s easy to see why at least some form of branding system will do a lot more for you than anything else.

Eye-catching and recognizable

One thing that is more so important when it comes to Twitch is how eye-catching your logo or avatar should be. I don’t think there’s that much an argument for a abstract logo since it holds no meaning in itself. It’s not going to magically become the Nike swoosh only because it looks cool or because it’s similar in style.

You can something that people both can remember and that can catch their eye. Here is where two things become very important. It’s the color, or colors, from your brand that can aid you in getting something to stand out. It won’t only be a white or a black background behind your logo. Instead the color it self will create a certain familiarity between your avatar/profile image and your overall brand.

Photo instead of an avatar

There’s nothing that says that you can’t use a photo instead of an avatar — even if having a logo or avatar at the same time won’t hurt you. You still need to follow the guidelines above. For instance certain photos don’t scale well at all. Instead you end up with a mess of pixels that from a distance only looks random.

You can use colors either by replacing background or as a tint to infuse your branding colors. You can also only use your face (similar to an avatar) that will give a much clearer image. After all your face is what you show (if you have a camera) the most while you’re playing games it is the way that others recognize.

The present, future and the past

The truth is that none of these things have changed. These guidelines have always been used by myself at least, and should have been used by other designers around Twitch as well. The main difference is the importance that they’ve now taken. We can see this all over Twitch, from Pulse, friends list, Twitch app, recommended channels, the follow tab and so on.

We can only speculate, but it’s pretty safe to say, that we’re only going to see more and more usage of this design language that Twitch have chosen to use. If you’re not ready to adapt you’re going to fall behind. That’s the way of business and that’s also the way of streaming today.

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