You may be aware that our community avatars have not changed since the late nineties...
Their time has come, indeed.
We are revamping the entire offering, to bring their look to more up-to-date sensibilities, while at the same time infusing a bit of underhanded branding that could make them identifiable as "uniquely Lithium".
Their main improvements are:
16:9 aspect ratio
1. 16:9 aspect ratio Identical to the High-Definition standard in television, computers and new devices, it evokes the new conventions of panoramic display, and allows more optimal use of our increasingly horizontal experience and its modular components.
2. Higher resolution Although 36x36 pixels have served their purpose until now, we are finding them limiting when scaling our product and meeting the demands of ever expanding displays. Although we will maintain the same height on our avatar's presence in messages and side panels, we are introducing larger versions for the profile picture and future uses in different platforms. See next point for specific resolutions.
3. Multiple sizes To better fit the design to each specific purpose, we have identified and implemented five sizes:
"Print" avatar (256x144 pixels) This extra-large "source" avatar will mostly exist to be able to scale our product in the future, but it may appear in a pop-over in your profile and as the name implies, any printed materials.
"Profile" avatar (128x72 pixels) You will see this iteration under a user's profile page.
"Message" avatar (64x36 pixels) This size will be the most common, appearing in message threads and side panel statistics. It closely resembles our legacy avatar, just wider. This has been done on purpose to minimize disruption.
"Favicon" avatar (16x16 pixels) This mini-icon is just used to decor the URL associated to a user profile... you will see it in the browser's address box and in your bookmarks or RSS feeds on some clients that support it.
"List" avatar (16x9 pixels) It may appear in some high-density data columns.
All sizes were adopted from some of the established standards for desktop icons in both Windows and Mac OS (16x16 ; 64x64; 128x128; 256x256) but adjusted on height to maintain the HD ratio.
4. Homogeneous Style We want our communities to showcase a highly polished interface, and as part of such strategy, will be offering administrator the possibility to adopt a single theme with multiple collections within. Allowing for both diversity and a unified look and feel.
Each theme (some diversified samples below to show the range of possibilities from high-tech to whimsical) will have its own unique style and visual vocabulary (to better fit our highly diversified clientele's needs), but they will all share a common, overarching DNA of compositional decisions. Namely:
They are "windows into a larger world", and not "freestanding elements". Therefore they ALL feature cropped imagery.
They all have the same focal point (different from the vanishing point) on the lower right corner, sharing therefore a similar weight balance and allowing the upper left corner counterbalance with enough space for future ranking, award, and/or score overlapping emblems.
They will be monochromatic or duotone-like, with clear dominant and recognizable hues to better differentiate similar shapes, while also reducing the ratio of visual noise over signal.
Our plans for deployment will be as follows:
Any new community owner may choose their default theme among a growing and differentiated selection; their users will be able to choose among collections within that theme (at least 8 collections with at least 8 unique avatars each), but not across other themes... Depending on rights, they may upload their own images cropped to the new proportions.
Preexisting communities that choose to upgrade, will offer the new avatars as the only option (That is: older icons will not be available in the Avatar Gallery, with the goal of phasing them out overtime). Any user in those communities with a default icon, will receive a new, default HD Avatar, and any user with a previously selected legacy icon, will receive a slightly modified version of it fitting the new dimensions (hereby dubbed as Classic Avatars). We obviously encourage all users to freshen their look, but we will respect their choice to keep with the old and familiar.
Enjoy the new choices... Coming soon to a community near you.