Circular avatars on Twitter? No, please.

Why the circular avatar is not a good idea for Twitter

Tweetbot 3 for iPhone is a fresh, new, streamlined and intuitive Twitter client designed by Tapbots. It fits well with the clean look of iOS7. I have been very willing to pay $2,99 for the new app on the day of its release, October 24th, 2013. But I’m not yet using it.

There’s 1 major misunderstanding here: the circular avatar, that works like a pinhole. It’s nice, but not for Twitter. Please let me explain.

Why is this a bad idea for any Twitter client?

1. There are millions and millions of avatars with off-centered image placement. For various reasons, people choose to create an avatar that stands out somehow. And aren’t they free to do so? A few examples:

Millions of Twitter accounts are forced to create something average that fits into the restrictive pinhole-like, small, circular space, if Twitter clients start using circular avatars.

Scrolling through their timelines, people see what’s there. They won’t tap twice on every tweet to open each avatar’s original (square) design to see what it looks like. If you understand Twitter, you really don’t want to simply ‘switch’ to a circular avatar.

2. Say bye bye to the use of a key word, a unique selling point, a brand name. In many cases a word or brandname or whatever written content is placed near the edges of the ava, for obvious reasons. You can’t just ignore that and say: ok, now place it all in the circular center. Many accounts need all the space of the square canvas.

3. The choice for a circular avatar practically takes away 30% of canvas space, compared to the square ava. There’s 30% less space for creativity and originality. You definitely have to fit into the pinhole here. That hurts.

4. Path, Instagram (name them all) are not Twitter. Twitter is a fluid, constantly moving livestream for people, brands, initiatives… If you want to draw attention to a subject and then guide people to a blog, website, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Path, etc., you need an avatar that speaks and breaths your (personal) brand. And you are entitled to use the full square canvas for that, not a circular cutout that looks like a mask.

To All Developers

To Twitter, to Tapbots, to developers all over the globe:
Please reconsider this issue if you have circular avatars in mind.
Free our 100% square avatar space. Thank you so much.

 Do you agree? Then please RT this tweet  and save our avatars. Thanks!

→ Nice! Jordan Kay (iOS Platform Engineer on the Twitter Mobile Team at Twitter, Inc.) tweeted about this article, on October 28th:


(Nov. 1st, 2015) In Tweetbot 3.1 we will be able to turn off circular avatars! Yay! Thanks Tapbots! Check the Vine here below ↓

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