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Visual Hash

The Design Problem

Differentiating between users on a social network scales in difficulty with the amount of information. To quickly discern the difference between one person and another; or one piece of content from another, we use icons or pictures. Often this can be solved by choosing or uploading a photo as a profile picture, or using a thumbnail version of the content.

However, when neither of these are available, it’s difficult to tell content or users a part quickly.

The Design Solution

Generate an image based upon the hash of the content or the ID of the user.

Examples

Why Choose Visual Hash?

When you need a default image to quickly differentiate between two users or pieces of content.

Best Practice: How to Implement Visual Hash

This image should have high enough entropy to cover the elements that would be visible in a typical user’s social network (e.g., 1000 items).

Potential Problems with Visual Hash

  • It often isn’t a great proxy for the actual user or the content. Use visual nudges to remind the user to choose an image.
  • Color blindness could be an issue in differentiating two visual hashes from each other. Ensure that the visual hash uses two colors that can be seen by all users.

The Take-Away

Visual hash is a good default image picker that helps you differentiate between users or content.