Do you have any recommendations about user avatars? What is the best approach for the users and for a social web platform?

What I can think of:

  • using random unique preselected images.
  • using unique generated images.
  • using gravatar.
  • taking avatar from social media connections.
  • letting the user to upload his own avatar.
  • showing a selection of images for users to choose.
  • letting the user combine an avatar from provided elements (face, hair, skin, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.).

Do you think that any of those ways is any better than others?

1 Answer 1


You have mentioned some great options. Each option fulfil a different kind of need and are not directly comparable. Here are some pros and cons of these options:

1 Random unique preselected imagess

Pro: Excellent potential for building a brand identity. Say, your logo is a penguin named tux. Use a set of images showing tux in different poses, outfits, doing activities etc. Con: Someone has to make those images. You'll rely on an artists and possibly a brand identity manager. Besides, what if users did not like your branding material so much.

2 Unique generated images

Pro: Quick and easy if you can use an off the shelf open source software. Con: May not be as interesting as the previous option.

3 Gravatar

Pro: The easiest to implement. Minimal effort needed to integrate with your application. Con: Some users may not have gravatar, you'll end up showing the default image for them. Not so much of an issue unless most of your users are not gravatar users.

4 Avatar from social media connections

Pro: Quick and easy if you can use the right off the shelf software. Cons: Users may not like to expose their FB/Twitter identity on your site.

5 User uploaded avatar

Pro: Allows your users to have their favourite avatar, your app feel more personalized. Con: A bit of work on your end to create the upload form, store the image, retrieve the image etc.

6 Selection of images for users to choose

Pro: very similar to the first option, but let the users choose which tux image they like. Con: Same as the first option.

7 Letting the user combine an avatar from provided elements (face, hair, skin, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.)

Pro: Lets the user engage more with your app. Con: Quite a bit of work on your end. Besides, depending on the KPIs your team is tracking, there may not be a lot of ROI.

So I would ask myself what are the priorities and how much time/resource can I allocate for this avatar feature in my app?

One extreme would be when the priority is to get a working prototype ASAP. I would go with gravatar in that case. The other extreme would be, to prioritise brand identity. I would go with either 1 or 6 in that case. I see the other options sitting somewhere in between these two extremes. So depending on your priorities and budget, you can also go for a non-extreme option.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.