Friday, September 21, 2007

Creating an Avatar

What do you want your avatar to say about you? Think about how you will use your avatar and who will see it. For example, I teach online. How do I want my online students to see me?

I tend to be casual. This is fine when students know me. What about new students or prospective new clients?

The best way to determine how you want your avatar to look is to use real world analogies. I may dress casual when I teach but would I dress the same way for a teaching interview? If I use one avatar for business it is best to be a bit conservative and create an avatar that is appropriate for all business situations.

People have many facets of life. You may want to create different avatars that represent these different facets. For example, you may be a lawyer by day and a jazz musician by night. In this case, create a corporate avatar for your online legal interactions and create a more hip avatar for your music discussions.

Online business mirrors the real world. When you create an avatar, think about how people would measure that appearance in that real world environment. That will help you determine the right avatar for your online professional interactions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More About Avatars and Business

There are many ways to incorporate avatars into online business. Tech support could definitely benefit. Very few software or hardware customers read a tech support site’s FAQ or documentation. Personally, I don’t blame them. When something doesn’t work, I want to ask and find the solution.

An avatar can be your personal tech support consultant. Type your question and let the avatar tell you the answer. Once you hear the answer, the site can provide a button for you to click on if you want to read or print the instructions.

An avatar provides a human quality to just about any aspect of online communication.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avatars and Business

Online businesses are beginning to use avatars. This rate of usage will increase over the next few years.

You go to Amazon to purchase some books. The beauty of traditional books stores is that they are ideal for browsing, looking for the unknown. An avatar at Amazon can provide this service. Ask the avatar, “What new mysteries are available?” and the avatar tells you the new mysteries that are in stock. You click on a button to view these recommendations or talk (type message) to the avatar to get more information, for example, “Tell me more about the Dead Dancers Have No Rhythm book.”

Avatars enhance online business by adding human qualities to online transactions. While eBay encourages their customers to use Skype to discuss a transaction, many people feel uncomfortable speaking with a stranger. Using an avatar, you communicate through the comfort of typing your message while your avatar does the talking. Avatars provide the face-to-face communication.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


People communicate in many ways. They write, speak, and they use facial and body language. People send email, write blogs, and express opinions in message forums.

An email address identifies the person who sent an email and a user name identifies a person in a forum. How do we identify a voice on the Internet? How do we place a face with a user name?

We use avatars to visually represent a person’s identity online. The avatar may be 2D, 3D, look like a cartoon, or be a high quality, realistic, 3D image that looks like the person it represents.

Avatars are important. Many online applications benefit when they use avatars. Many informational sites populate the Internet. Customers can learn from reading information. However, as people, we trust and validate information when we both hear it and see the person who is speaking that information. This is especially true for life-pertinent information, for example, medical, legal, or financial information.

The avatar must gain the customer’s trust. It is important that the avatar be as realistic as possible. The avatar must be high quality, have a high degree of realism, and must look like the person that is presenting the information. Would you trust medical, legal, or financial information from a cartoon talking head?

High quality and a high degree of realism increase the customer’s level of trust. When you look at the avatar while it is speaking, you need to feel comfortable. The facial expressions need to be serious and friendly. The eyes need to make direct contact with you. The character and emotions of the avatar need to fit the message the avatar is delivering.

An avatar that projects trust is a valuable asset to an online business.