eye-tracking

In 2014, we declared Austin, Texas the Conversion Optimization Capital of the World. We will be updating our yearly list of Austin’s greatest conversion minds on CRO Day, April 9. Subscribe and see if you agree.

If Austin is the conversion capital of the world, it was a supernova of conversion optimization brilliance this past week when the Conversion XL Live conference was held here. Luminaries from around the globe converged here for a program that covered topics from landing page design to “bandit” algorithms.
I learned a lot.
Here were some of the highlights for me.

The Dame, The Detective and the Double-cross

The Detective BogartI used Humphrey Bogart detective movies to illustrate that conversion optimizers use a variety of data sources to determine what to test and what not to test.  The femme fatale will appear in the detective’s office and pose a problem. The salty detective will investigate, looking for clues. If he’s not careful, he can be double-crossed by the data.
[pullquote position=”right”]For a data detective, the initial hypothesis is the “dame’s” story. Of course, she is hiding something.[/pullquote] He must find clues to tease out the truth using alternative data sources. He can use post-test analysis techniques to make sure he wasn’t double-crossed by his data.
Some of the alternative sources I discussed were:
Aggregated Behavioral data like Google Analytics and AB Testing Tools.
Aggregated User Interaction data like click tracking tools and form-tracking tools.
Individual User Interaction data, like session recordings, ratings and reviews data and live chat transcripts.
Self-reported data, such as surveys and online feedback.
Customer knowledge, often found by interviewing sales and customer support people.
When you prioritize hypotheses that have lots of support in data, you keep yourself from being double-crossed by unexpected results.

Mobile Website Design

We believe that the mobile Web is like the desktop Web in the 1990s: we will look back and laugh at the choices we are making today.
Amy Africa has done a lot of testing on mobile websites, and gave us a flood of Mobile Web 2.0 tips. My notes were extensive, but some of the her revelations were surprising.

        

  • Don’t think in terms of pages. Think in terms of screens and scrolls.
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  • Make your “action directives” (action buttons, search options, etc.) big and bold.
  •     

  • 80% of mobile success is having the right navigation.
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  • One third to one half of mobile visitors will use search. Design search results pages as if only three items will be seen.
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  • Mobile forms are abandoned more often on mobile.
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  • Email is of even bigger importance with mobile users than desktop users.
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  • Social logins can reduce abandonment if done right.
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  • “Oversell the phone number” in the purchase process.
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  • Responsive design comes with a mobile performance hit.
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  • Transfer mobile visitors to the desktop by sending email or text.
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  • Email will make up for deficiencies in the mobile experience.

She introduced me to some new terms, including “donuts”, “spreaders” and “cart hoppers.”
It’s clearly an exciting time in the mobile world.

Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning

Matthew Gershoff introduced us to the world of predictive analytics and machine learning.
Optimization = Learning efficiency + Applying the “best” learnings
New tools, such as his company Conductrics provides tools that use the key ingredients of optimization.

        

  1. Setting goals
  2.     

  3. Sensing the environment, usually through analytics.
  4.     

  5. Having the ability to act and execute on learnings.
  6.     

  7. Observing outcomes.
  8.     

  9. Learning the decision logic of visitors.

These ingredients are the basis for machine learning.
He recommended courses on VideoLectures.com to get up to speed on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Conversion Maturity Model

Brooks Bell was interviewed by conference host Peep Laja about the Conversion Maturity Model that defines how advanced an organization is with respect to optimization.
Her namesake company surveyed 300 companies, rating them on six criteria.

        

  1. Culture
  2.     

  3. Team
  4.     

  5. Tools and Systems
  6.     

  7. Process
  8.     

  9. Strategy
  10.     

  11. Performance

The executive sponsor at a company is key to the success of the optimization effort, she pointed out. Very true.

Conversion Optimizers from Everywhere

Austin truly was the Conversion Supernova of the World.
In from Vancouver, Oli Gardner of Unbouce took us through the rules of good landing page design. He provided us all with some free tools to help us evaluate our landing pages and forms.
André Morys runs one of the largest conversion optimization companies in the world. He’s both hugely entertaining and German.
Michael Aagard flew in from Denmark to share some of his most embarrassing testing mistakes and his triumphs.
Yehoshua Coren is a cross-cultural phenomenon as the Analytics Ninja from Israel.
Lukas Vermeer traveled from The Netherlands to share his conversion challenge game, So You Think You Can Test?
Michael Summers of Rockville, MD showed us the powerful insights to be gained from eye-tracking studies.
Anita Andrews showed us how using the wrong goal will result in poor testing decisions.
You should be at ConversionXL Live next year.
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Ghostbusters was a touchstone for us. Seven years ago, we were launching into a new marketplace – conversion optimization. Like the Ghostbusters, many didn’t understand the value of what we did. Like the ghosts of the movie, the goblins in a website were invisible and ethereal.
So, we turned up the volume, donning lab coats and teaching anyone who would listen. Today, conversion optimization is quickly becoming a must-have discipline in any online business.
Four Ghostbusters
We have always taken inspiration from the trio of Venkman, Stantz and Spengler, collectively known as the Ghostbusters.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the Ghostbusters movie, we offer nine important lessons that we’ve taken from this classic comedy.

1. Get Yourself Some Cool Toys

“It’s technical. It’s one of our little toys.”
Batman had the Bat Cave. Ghostbusters had ECTO-1. We have CRO-1.
For us, we have to be able to bring our tools of choice to our clients. You probably don’t need the mobility that we do, but should have your own digital lab, stocked with the latest toys.

This modified ambulance carries some cool CRO tools.

This modified ambulance carries some cool CRO tools.


For us, we require a solid analytics setup to build on. We further like to add some click tracking tools to see how visitors are interacting with pages. Our split testing software allows us to segment visitors into tests and to inject JavaScript into their experiences.
In the past, we’ve used session recorders and eye-tracking software to get more info on how visitors are using a site.
Yes, we think these are pretty cool toys. You will too when you wield them with a little finesse.
Build your own digital lab for free at ConversionDashboard.com

2. Save Your Tests

“Please understand. This is a high-voltage laser containment system.”
The Ghostbusters went on quite a hunting spree in the first movie capturing all manner of ghost, ghoul and specter. What did they do with these? They placed them in a high-voltage laser containment system.
When you complete a test on your website, you need to save the results in a place that ensures you won’t forget what you’ve learned.

Ghostbusters store a ghost.

Store your tests where they can have the most impact.


We’ve never had a one-size-fits-all approach to documenting test results. We’ve used physical books that we call “Books of Swagger” so that our clients have the answers to questions at their fingertips.
We’ve kept detailed spreadsheets of tests.
Today, we rely most frequently on PowerPoint decks to save our “swagger” along with the details of the tests in our split testing tools.
 

3. Realize You’re Saving the World

“Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together — mass hysteria!”
Don’t underestimate the magnitude of the shift you’re bringing to your online business. Adding some science to your marketing is going to bring profound changes to your organization.
Decisions will be made differently. Old beliefs, superstitions and sacred cows will disintegrate.
It will be painful at times and will take some passionate convincing of doubters. In the end, you could be saving the business.

4. Get Some Strange Hobbies

“I collect molds, spores and fungus.”
You’ve got to be interested in some strange topics. Revenue per visit, statistical significance, correlation vs. causation… it’s quite different from product, positioning and pricing.
Yes, the geeks are going to rule the marketing world, so get your geek on.
CRO geeks are interested in the psychology of influence, the structure of the mind and in rudimentary statistics. We study images, copywriting, pricing theory and user experience theory.
The bottom line is that you are going to have to nurture an interest in some unusual topics to be a well-rounded online marketing scientist.

5. Clear Your Mind

“It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”
Expectations and attachments will dull your ability to apply science to your marketing. Often, our most cherished creative just won’t win in a split test.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals for your tests. However, expectations and attachments to outcomes can lead to poor decision-making.
If you’re sure a certain treatment is going to win in a split test, you’re more likely to call it a winner before the confidence level is high enough.
If you expect your results to “make sense”, you are more likely to throw out valid results as “unexplainable.”
We find that it is harder to come up with new hypotheses for a site we’ve been working on for a year or more. It’s harder to clear our minds of the knowledge we already have.
The more you know a thing, the less meaning it has for you. Clear your mind.

6. Don’t Cross the Streams

“Try to imagine all life as you know it ending instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”

Ghostbusters capture a ghost.

Don’t cross your traffic streams when doing multiple tests on a site.


The more tests we can run on a site, the faster we learn. Sites with a large number of visitors and conversions can run several tests, provided the audience can be segmented.
The idea of testing is to understand what is working and what is not. To do this, we need to isolate variables. This is science talk for “only change one thing at a time.” Ideally, only one thing will change for any visitor to your site.
However, if you allow a group of visitors to enter multiple tests, then more than one thing is changing. Imagine that a visitor comes to the home page and is entered into a test in which you remove the sidebar menu. Then they come to a test in your shopping cart in which you remove the discount code field.
When the tests are done, you won’t know which combination of home page sidebar and discount code field resulted in the most sales. The data for both tests have been polluted and cannot be relied on.
So, don’t cross your streams of traffic. If you are running multiple tests on a site, be sure that you segment traffic to only see one or the other.

7. Be Proud to be a Scientist

“Back off man. I’m a scientist.”

You should feel proud to have a data-driven marketing program up and running. Science isn’t perfect, and the fact that we are always trying to prove ourselves wrong means that our self-esteem may suffer.
Most importantly, you should be bringing others in your organization along the science learning curve.
Don’t be afraid to take a moment to explain statistical significance to a coworker. Go ahead and write up a memo on isolating variables or calculating the length of a test.
And when you have a success, be sure to do the money-dance in a very public way.

8. Tell Them About the Twinkie

“That’s a big Twinkie.”
At one point in our heroes’ adventures, Dr. Spengler uses a Twinkie to illustrate the growth of “psychokinetic energy” in the New York area.
“According to this morning’s sample, it would be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing 600 pounds.”

Ghostbuster holding a Twinkie

Spengler uses a Twinkie to illustrate the ghostly trouble brewing in New York.


We really can’t take our graphs, charts and tables out to our organizations and expect others the understand what we’re seeing.
I think this is why we prefer to save our test results in slide decks. It is a system designed to tell an emerging story. These decks includes hypotheses, screen shots, data tables and conclusions. Everyone can open them and they can be as big as they need to be.
Sometimes, a map is better than step-by-step directions. Become a student of explaining and presenting findings. The better you get at this, the more cred you will build within your company.
Companies like Narrative Sciences are focused on turning data into stories.
Use your own Twinkies – analogies and metaphors – to help others understand the context for your discoveries and their relevance to themselves.
Charles Bukowski said, “Genius could be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”

9. Don’t get Slimed

“I feel so funky.”

Ghostbuster got slimed.

Don’t let the slime get you down.


 
It is one of the inevitabilities of the scientist to have her most amazing theories regularly proven wrong. Inconclusive tests, polluted data and external interference make testing disheartening.
Don’t let a series of disappointments bring your momentum and scientific excitement to a standstill. Don’t let yourself get slimed.
If you find yourself in a slump, it’s time to get input from outside of your echo-chamber. Pull in some fresh eyes from elsewhere in the company. Watch a few recorded sessions or collect some user feedback using any of a number of tools.
When you feel your energy ebbing, it’s because you got attached to your outcomes. Be humble. Stay curious. Stay out of the slime.
Thanks to Dan Akroyd, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis for providing the inspiration we needed to take ourselves a little less seriously than we would have.
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Are you troubled by high bounce rates in the middle of the night?
Do you experience feelings of dread in your CFO’s office?
Have you or your family ever seen you twitch, shake or cry?
If the answer is “yes,” then don’t wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals.
Images taken from Ghostbusters. All copyrights belong to their owners.

The Strongest Online Persuader You’ll Ever Encounter: Yourself

The things that make us effective marketers or stand in our way often aren’t external, but internal. Being a good marketer, copywriter or Conversion Scientist means coming to terms with our own demons, limitations and neuroses.

Dr. Aaron Balick maps out how our overburdened Ego does it’s best “while being goaded on by the Id and being told off by the Superego.”

Dr. Balick knows how to help us relate to these kind of issues in his latest article.
Read Aaron Balick’s article in its entirety here.

Why The New Google Search Ads Design Is a Subtle Work of Genius

If you didn’t know, Google has redesigned their search results pages recently. The change is primarily to the portion of the page that contains “sponsored content”, or ads.

The eye-tracking images provided by the folks at EyeQuant are telling.

The pages now drive more attention to the ads, taking attention away from the free results. Ironically, it also makes the ads more evident, with a bright icon beside each.

EyeQuant calls this “a Subtle Work of Genius”. What do you think?
Read this article in its entirety here.

11 A/B Split Testing Mistakes I See Businesses Make All The Time

Peep Laja has put into one blog post most of the hard lessons we’ve learned over the years of testing here in the Conversion Lab. Peep doesn’t mince words (“There is no best color”).

Don’t let all of this scare you. It’s better to try and learn from your mistakes than to not make any mistakes at all. Test away!
Read Peep Laja’s article in its entirety here.

Are you a CRO Junkie? It Could Ruin Your Split Tests

Do you get a shot of adrenaline every time you see an uptick in conversions? We do. However, we often find our early excitement tempered when a test turns out to be inconclusive.

It can be hard to announce to a customer that you didn’t find a winner. In fact, it’s a discipline here.

Find out what you can do to keep from getting addicted to good test results.
Read Stephen Da Cambra’s article in its entirety here.
 
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World Market Opacity What parts of your ecommerce product page are seen in the crucial first seconds of a visit?

What’s the worst and the best thing that could happen to your e-commerce site?
The answer is that a Conversion Scientist tried to buy something from you.
It’s good because, we are very likely to write about our experience. It’s bad because we are going to point out what you’re doing wrong.
We recently tried to buy some stand-up desks for some of the team here at Conversion Sciences. Like so many shoppers, we found ourselves paralyzed by choice.
In true Conversion Scientist form, we decided to collect some data to help us with our choice. We compared desks at National Business Furniture, Rakuten and World Market. However, our decision to buy was based on how their product pages performed, not on price and features.
We invented the game Product Page Roulette.
Find out which site won our dollars (and probably the dollars of many other visitors) in my Marketing Land column An Expensive E-commerce Game: Product Page Roulette.


Subscribe to the Podcast

Please Click to Tweet one of these

Why the @WorldMarket site is winning the ecommerce game.
Tweet: Roulette is a game of chance. Your product pages shouldn’t be a game of chance. http://ctt.ec/0Kv4R+ @bmassey via @MarketingLand
Tweet: The job of the product page is to provide what the visitor needs to decide to “Add to Cart.” http://ctt.ec/bN7e1+ @bmassey
Tweet: Eye-tracking simulators estimate what an eye-tracking study would tell us without the expense. http://ctt.ec/n5EGO+ @bmassey
Tweet: When your marketplace offers a spectrum of prices and features visitors are paralyzed by choice. http://ctt.ec/96a3c+ @bmassey
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Jessica Davis of Godot Media how to increase lead conversion rates.
Converting leads through your website is an essential objective for any website owner. If your business relies solely on the performance of your website, then this becomes even more important. For success online, you have to constantly strive toward improving the conversion rate of your website.
Conversion rate basically refers to the frequency of converting casual visitors on your business website into success leads for the business. This list can include customers who buy your services or products, sign-up on email lists, post comments, make inquiries, as well as perform interactions with your website.
Converting visitors into leads is not child’s play. Even when armed with social media and content marketing strategies, companies are still unable to successfully convert visitors to leads. A good conversion strategy requires constant testing and analysis.

Essential tips to improve lead conversion rates

Improving conversion rates should be your primary aim when operating a business website. Below, are a few points to help you boost lead conversion rates.

#1 – Employ different strategies for for different leads

You have to treat your leads individually. Your customer base will likely be comprised of different groups who have different interests and triggers. For instance, there may be some customers who like reading exhaustive content describing your business, yet others, may lack such patience and would rather take part in a webinar. As you can see, each group would have a different trigger so you need to approach each category with material that appeals to them.
Offering incentives is a great way of converting leads. This method has been used in the online business scenario for a long time now. The longevity of this method proves its success in lead conversion. An example of this method can be seen in several blogs where casual visitors are asked to give their emails in exchange for an exclusive link to a free resource such as an eBook. This principle is applicable in any online business for lead capturing purposes. You can increase you email list very quickly if this is done correctly.

#3 – Get to know your leads better

Every business has its ideal customer. You should ask yourself how well you know yours before creating your content marketing strategy. If you don’t know them very well, then it’s time to get to know them. Check out their demographics. You should know their location, income, occupation, buying habits, lifestyle, and similar data pertaining to financial situations. This data is called as Central Demographic Model or CDM. Apart from this, you will also want to know customers’ Central Psychographic Model or CPM. This defines the preferences, behaviors, and other factors affecting buying decisions of customers. CDM and CPM collectively can help you in converting leads better.

#4 – Understand successful conversion processes

Conversion processes are not an exact science. You may be surprised at how something mundane has contributed toward lead generation in the past. Hit and trial also works in online business lead generation. As such, you should always look at what has lead to successful conversions in the past. Proper attention should be paid to your website’s history in converting leads. Once you realize what has impacted your visitor’s decision in buying your product or service, that should be properly incorporated into your content marketing model, and should be duly communicated to everyone in the sales and marketing teams.

#5 – Always customize follow-up communication

Customizing follow up according to client preferences is also a must for lead generation. Whether you are using batch signs or whether the sales team is directly following up with specific leads, you have to ensure that you have proper understanding of the follow up campaign. Doing this will assist in customizing campaigns and avoid any clashes between the different follow up campaigns. As with the process of tailoring lead generation campaigns and content marketing according to client preferences, follow up measures should also be done for best results.
 
About the author: Jessica Davis is a Content Strategist at Godot Media – a leading copywriting company. She is an expert in article writing category, and has helped several businesses succeed through effective use of content. Other areas that interest her are technology, social media and fashion.

7 Conversion Lessons Learned From Eye Tracking

@neilpatel collects some of the most interesting eye-tracking images available and provides seven insights that can help you design your pages and choose images. We have done our own eye-tracking study of business video and you can get the full report now. The report offers similar conclusions for the use of video in a landing page. It includes over 30 minutes of embedded video that you can watch yourself.
Neil’s conclusions include:

        

  • Be careful you you use [images of] people
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  • That people love media (especially on search results pages)
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  • That men and women look at images differently
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  • That simple images can be more effective
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  • The power of the left side of the page
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  • The power of faces
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  • That people love hand-written notes (my favorite)

Enjoy the images he provides.

Shopping Cart Abandonment: Why It Happens & How To Recover Baskets Of Money

@peeplaja offers a great post on shopping cart abandonment
In my book I say that abandonment is like cholesterol: There is a good kind and a bad kind. For each there is a strategy for reducing the impact of abandonment on your business.
Good abandoners leave because they aren’t done with their shopping process. The challenge is to get them to come back and buy when they are done. There are several strategies here for retargeting the visitor who abandons using email and ads.
Bad abandoners leave because you surprised them or didn’t provide the information they were looking for. This kind of abandonment can be treated by improving the checkout process and by using pricing and shipping strategies.
Abandonment is the most heartbreaking of conversion killers. it is also a fertile place to increase the performance of your website.

Everyone is excited about “whiteboard” video, in which concepts are drawn at super-high speed on a whiteboard to explain or sell what you offer.
business video coverBut Whiteboard video is not cheap, and the geek scientists here a Conversion Sciences wanted to learn if whiteboard video was worth the extra price.
First, we used an eye-tracking camera to see how people watch whiteboard video. Watch the incredible video we made that tracks viewers’ eyes as the watch whiteboard video right in the interactive eBook.
But, we didn’t stop there.
We did the same for “talking head” video and for “webinar” or “slide” video. These are the three most common forms of business video.
You’re going to be surprised at what we discovered.
We also did a split test of these kinds of videos to see which would generate the most conversions in a business setting.
Don’t invest in video until you’ve read Business Video Through the Eyes of Your Prospects.
This interactive PDF book includes all of the eye-tracking videos and more.
* An explanation of how video works in the brain
* Results of our split test to maximize conversion
* Results of a post test to measure comprehension
* Over 30 minutes of video so you can see for yourself
This extraordinary ebook will save you from investing $5000, $10,000 or more in the wrong video. Get instant access to the Business Video Through the Eyes of Your Prospects.
Video can significantly improve your conversion rates and revenue. The wrong video can do the opposite. Avoid expensive video pitfalls with this interactive eBook.

There’s nothing like an arch nemesis to get the “good guys” motivated and engaged in a quest. If you are trying to get your conversion project approved, consider finding a competitor who seems to be making all the right moves.
This is the topic of my new column on Search Engine Land How To Get Management Excited About Conversion Optimization. In it I talk about the power of an enemy.
I discuss the components of your competitor story, including appearing to have greater resources than you, appearing to be smart, and appearing to have an evil plan.
I introduce you to some Spy Equipment that tells you just how smart they are.
I show you how to tell if they are they optimizing their site, using analytics, page analyzers or testing packages.
You can also tell if they are using ratings and reviews, recommendation engine or video players.
I tell you how you can catch them monologuing, revealing their secrets.
Finally, I show you how to cast them in their best light, making them more threatening.

image image

With a little research, you can clearly draw a picture of your competition as an evil genius, working to take food from the mouths of your family. You can develop the story of the powerful competitor using some spy equipment, their public “bragging,” and some page analysis tools. This will make your conversion project seem more critical to the survival of your business.

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Read the full article.

We are well into the digital publishing world. I am fortunate to have my work appear several times a month in a variety of places.
Yet, I still love to see my mug in print, I don’t know why.
So, my digital friend, I thought I would share my mention from Chief Content Officer Magazine (free subscription) and fill in a few more details on the method to my headshot madness.

The Conversion Scientist’s Social Media Avatar Tips

1. Include something unusual in the image, something representative of your personal brand.

I wear the lab coat in every shot, even if it isn’t showing much. The human mind remembers such things.

2. Control the viewer’s eyes with your eyes.

Eye-tracking studies have shown that our gaze is drawn to faces that are looking at us. In fact, we may stare at a pretty girl long enough to forget why we came to your page in the first place. Have several versions of your headshot and aim your eyes at things you want people to see: calls to action, content, headlines, etc.

3. Be unexpected.

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One of the things we want to do is engage the mind of the viewer. Things that will light up someone’s brain activity are the unexpected, off-center and the need to “fill in” an image.

4. Consider integrating action.

You can tell a story with a one-frame headshot. So, tell it. What am I doing in this shot?
I’m talking to an audience. I must be a presenter. Why, yes, I am! But, what am I holding (unexpected)?
I’m going in for the hug! That means I’m a connector, right??
Other avatar actions: Being passionate, banging a table, thinking deeply, contributing at a homeless shelter.
Our avatars don’t have to be boring, and in fact they can be quite instrumental in engaging with visitors to our Web site, Facebook profile, Twitter stream and more.
Hand-drawn avatar courtesy Kathleen McElwaine.
Headshot logo by David Holston.
Headshots by Korey Howell Photography.
Image with mic courtesy Eugene Hsu.
Contact Brian Massey