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Avatar

A avatar It is a graphic image that represents a real person. Avatars are used as an alter ego or character image in virtual worlds, social networks, websites, and communities. These can be personal icons (so-called picons) in two-dimensional form or three-dimensional graphic images such as comic figures.

General information

The term avatar was first coined by Richard Garriot. With the creation of "UltimaIV: Quest of the Avatar" in 1985, the game designer had already devised a game concept that saw an avatar as a representation of the player. The term, which has its origins in Hinduism, was first used in games. Later the term was developed with the development of the Internet, Internet forums, chats and, in short, social networks, blogs and websites.

Avatars in PC games

In PC games, an avatar can represent a player. In games like "Second Life" or "World of Warcraft", the player first has to create an avatar. This can be defined down to the smallest detail (eg face shape, eye color, hair color, skin color) to match the figure itself or to create an entirely new character. This artificially created figure is then controlled by different virtual worlds and is sometimes even capable of communicating with other avatars.

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Avatars in forums and social networks

Avatars play an important role when it involves activities in forums or social networks on the Internet. Here, the term refers to small symbols that typically have a dimension of 80 x 80 pixels. These symbols are integrated above, below or next to the username and the respective message depending on the chosen platform.

In this circumstance, they serve to increase the value of accreditation of a person or profile on the network. They are considered an element that should promote trust. On social media, many people use a real photo of themselves as an avatar. However, in forums where one remains rather anonymous, this is rarely the case. Instead, cartoon figures, 3D graphics, photographs of places, animals or stars, illustrations, slogans and statements, etc. are used.

In cases where social media platforms are used commercially, it is advisable to use avatars that communicate company values in a certain way. Experts refer to this as visual coherence. The first visual impression of a potential customer is set up so that the crediting value is as high as possible. At the same time of the avatar, other aspects also play an important role. These include the colors, fonts, and logos used in all corporate communications. Avatars are an integral part of corporate identity.

Avatars in blogs

Most CMS usually have the option to upload an avatar when posting comments on blogs. This is shown later next to the message. In this circumstance, the design possibilities mentioned above are also recommended. Some CMS even offer special services for creating avatars. The term blavatar is also common, where avatars are only used in blogs.

An exception are the so-called "gravatars". These are globally recognized and are identical on different blogs. Blogs that are based on the WordPress CMS can automatically recognize gravatars. If a user creates an avatar on gravatar.com and later uses the email address saved in a comment on a WordPress blog, the created gravatar is automatically displayed.[1]

Avatars in online stores

In online stores, avatars are used for a totally different strategy. Here, digital customer advisors and contact persons are created using avatars. These help the user with the user experience on the web. If a user has questions about the service, the product range, the navigation or the purchase procedure, they can contact the avatar. Behind this avatar there is a real person who answers the questions, like in a live chat.

The conversion rate can be increased sustainably through the selective use of avatars. This is because the customer is not left alone with questions about the product or difficulties throughout the ordering process. Instead, the customer is guided along the way until the order has been completed. In this circumstance, the avatars are part of the measures of trust building.

Importance for social media

Avatars have become essential in the fields of games, social networks and other Internet services. They are used to increase the value of accreditation and build trust. For commercial use, they must be integrated into all corporate communication and the respective corporate identity. However, not just any image should be chosen for this. The chosen image must be able to convey in some way certain values of the company[2].

In the best of cases, avatars become part of the visual communication of the company [3], since the way in which a user will respond also depends on how the company carries out social branding and everything that it encompasses. The success of the brand goes far beyond the use of avatars, logos and typography and includes aspects such as customer service behavior and meeting customer expectations.