I'm not a UX designer by profession but I am currently working on something that requires a lot of considerations of usability. Currently, I'm trying to implement an avatar system that users will see but I want to make sure that it does not produce disproportionate effects on user responses to them. Specifically, I have designed some animal based avatars but I was wondering if there are any known results about any possible gender differences in responses to avatars that may be overly "cute"? Thanks for any responses.

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    Of course there is likely to be a stereotypical gendered response to animals that are perceived as 'cute' or 'fierce'. For truly non-gendered avatars you should look at the abstract patterns generated by things like gravatar - similar to the avatar you have here. – Andrew Martin Oct 17 '17 at 8:01
  • What is the main reason for avatars? Can users upload their own profile pictures or only use avatars? – Armands Oct 17 '17 at 10:49
  • You have a system with avatars and will soon have users. You're in a good position to gather some data on your own. Let us know what you find out! – Ken Mohnkern Oct 17 '17 at 12:47

Many popular websites have stopped working hard on Avatars.

They might just play around with their logo designs and put them as default profile picture

For example Slack.

enter image description here

Facebook still uses gender-specific default images as they have their own reasons for that.

Two metrics to decide how much work you need to put in avatar profiling:

1. Your project

2. Your audience

Clearing up the scenario more :

If your product touches the social aspect, then just follow FB like approach because anyways your audience will be replacing the default avatar with their own pictures.

If you product is technical and users don't really care about display pictures then Slack like approach is interesting.

  • Thank you this is very useful. I will go with the slack approach. – cayennewest Oct 17 '17 at 20:14

The user acceptance of default avatar types depends solely on your target audience. If you know who your users are, you can decide whether or not the use of animals is appropriate and matching context. If cute animal avatars make sense from a branding and/or usage perspective (like an animal adoption app) it is perfectly appropriate, even with both men and women using your application. Cute isn't gender specific after all. Which leads to my question: why did you decide to make animal-based avatars in particular?

If you are unsure who your users are or whether the use of animal avatars is appropriate, you should stick to more neutral grounds. This is why apps with a broad user base tend to generate abstract avatars. Slack for example, uses color and lines to generate avatars which are neither male or female in nature. A smart move, because the application is used by a wide variety of people. Avatars are personal, and not everyone will appreciate 'silly' branding.

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