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The asymetric configuration of the avatar

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:10 am    Post subject: The asymetric configuration of the avatar Reply with quote

I have several accounts that I use to post to many web publications in order to comment. Some are for individual blogs, others are global signons like Twitter, Facebook or Disqus.

I have tried to use a universal icon when images are allowed next to comments, although I sometimes change it.

What I have found is that while the basic profile information is relatively easy to change -- home town, age, favorite links -- for some reason in many cases the avatar is difficult or impossible to change!

With the New York Times, for example, has a problem with updating avatars, so I could not bring it into alignment with my current image. I contacted their tech support, and they lackadaisically responded that a "lot of people" have complained about the same thing. And?! Weeks later, nothing has been done. With the Washington Post I have gone back several times to see where it is that I can change the avatar...I checked the extensive help and the FAQs. Nowhere can I see a place to change it, or a reference as to where it might be. The Seattle P-I is in this list, too.

There are many other cases even where if you can change it, the control to specify and upload an image is not in the most obvious place. So you might have a Change Profile Settings, which to me would seem to be the most obvious place for a avatar selection, but instead it is nested an extra level deep in a separate Change Avatar Settings page.

I have a conjecture on this, and that is, that this is case where the User Interface is being based on the substructure. So, because uploading an image and storing it someplace has a different underlying mechanism than the insert/update database mechanism for text profile information, it's be segregated by interface pages. So design is not centered around user tasks, but around programming efficiency.

Maybe this goes back to the thread on diagnosing software bugs? I have to ask, do any of the site owners test these features with any rigorousness at all? And in the case of the New York Times, the open disdain with which they ignore multiple customer inquires is disheartening!
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