Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Examples of Cool Twitter Avatars - The Power of Design

I didn't join Twitter until last summer, but as my list of people I follow grows, so does the abundance of varying Twitter avatars in my feed. I'll be honest, there are some I pay attention to more than others because of who they are and my interest in what they post. But then there are days where I just want to skim the long list of tweets, and that's when the what comes into play. When I say what, I mean what it is that will catch my eye (even for the slightest moment) to make me possibly pay attention and see what's being said.

That's where the value of design comes into play. Above are some examples of some of the icons that have really caught my attention. Obviously, I'm a designer, so the people I follow are mostly designers, hence, there's bound to be a larger abundance of cool/good icons in my list (though some are pretty bland). For most other people on Twitter, they're following non-designers. The difference I see is that a well designed icon has that grabbing power over many other icons. The primary gap is between an icon and a photo of a person when scanning. I scroll through my list, and a person's face placed in a square at such a small size can be really difficult to distinguish. And there's a lot of them (especially for non-designer feeds). Normal photos just look like stock; even a relatively cool illustration that just fits neatly in the square icon frame can look generic and unidentifiable. (Now don't get me all wrong, there really are some nice photos of faces out there that have great composition and interest.)

I think the ones that have that potential stopping power the most are based largely on design that is simple and has contrast. Simple in that I can actually read or distinguish what the icon is (whether the person is using a logo or some other graphic). Contrast in that it has a shape, or balance of space, or form that makes it interesting and causes it to "pop." In the icons here, I think you can see that some of the primary elements making up these eye-catching designs leverage a letter or two, a number, have a lot of white space, are cut out in a unique shape, or just rely fully on a flood of the person's branded color. So, should you use a logo over a photo? Not always, because sometimes it seems someone just slaps their logo into the small pixel area and it becomes quite illegible. Again, the simple logos translate best. A nice option, if you want to use your logo, is to crop it in an interesting way or just pull out a single, identifying element.

There are enough Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber photos out there for all the fans, that a bland photo for your own Twitter avatar can make you just another face in the crowd. Scroll quickly through your own feed and see which icons catch your attention. Consider the little implications that the power of good design and thoughtful application can play in each and every scenario, including Twitter.

Twitter icons belong to the following (listed from left to right, top to bottom): @agiopen @CreativeReview @edenspiekermann @hofstededesign @hsyee @hyperakt @idApostle @itsnicethat @jessicahische @johnmaeda @lplayground @movingbrands @OK_RM @saffronbc @sagmeisterinc @SVA_News @the_partners @thedailyheller @thefoxisblack @TwoTimesElliott @vincefrost @vonster @WolffOlins @YoungJerks

Adam Ladd of Ladd Design


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