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The Personification of Design

Every single day for the past twenty two years of my life, I have never left my house without having to worry about my appearance. I am human, and as such, I tend to identify myself by what I wear. Others tend to identify me by what I wear. My original Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses let the world know that I am ahead of the curve and up-kept with the current trends, my unbrushed hair places my in the ‘artist’ category of things, and my Beats by Dre headphones confirm my love for music.

People tend to judge others on first impressions, which is one of the main reasons why we buy the things we buy. We all want to be judged the way we want to be judged.

I’m sure you do too.

And believe it or not, this is translating very well into our digital lives.

But how exactly?

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

Just Like Real Life Link

Just how we are constantly trying to fit in with a certain crowd or to be seen in a certain way by our peers in real life, we are doing the same in our digital lives. And by digital lives I mean our social media profiles. If you come to think about it, our online profiles are a lot more than just an extension to our real lives.

I truly believe that in the online world, we are given a lot more freedom to be our true selves as opposed to in ‘the real world’. In the same way many people find it easier to ‘text’ bad news rather than to share it via phone or in person, social media allows us to be the person we want to be without having to face the immediate physiological reactions from others.

It’s a sort of testing ground.

A couple of days ago I posted a rap video of myself on Youtube. Needless to say, it was the first time I had ever tried my hand at rap, and as bad of a rapper I am… I enjoyed the experience immensely. That being the case, I would have never done this in real life.

It’s still personal, but without the need to be in a position of discomfort… we feel comfortable when people watch from a distance.

I think that this is very important to understand.

Then why are most social media profiles I come across really awful? If our online identities are more than just an extension of our real lives, shouldn’t we be investing a little bit more time and effort into how they look? How does design play a role in this?

I believe that design plays an extremely important role. A role that, if done right, can potentially change lives in a very positive way.

Real Life

The Other Perspective Link

Whenever I’m browsing my friends lists on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+, I often give those with good looking social media profiles a lot more value than the rest. Just how our real lives have been translated to our online profiles, I believe that the opposite is the same too.

I would very rarely accept a friend request or choose to dig deeper into another persons profile if at first glance I don’t like what I see. And by what I see, I mean a nice clean profile with a professional looking profile picture (not the 2 megapixel mobile phone pics we see), a clear and simple description, without too much information… which can often be distracting. First impressions count a lot.

Now what if I was a really big sponsor looking for individuals to represent my brand, or maybe a company owner searching targeted individuals for freelance work? I would most definitely skip the guys with bad looking profiles.

And with social media starting to play a dominant role in our lives, I can only assume that more and more companies and brands will start to search for individuals in a similar way.

Now, I know that this is unfair and that most people who have these awful looking social media profiles aren’t necessary the way I think they are in real life, but I believe that this is how the world works. Eye candy is really important, and if eye candy is what they want, then eye candy is what we should give to them… right?

Eye Candy

On the contrary, whenever I see a good looking profile, I am automatically interested in that person and feel like I would like to get to know more about them. I approach these people.

These people are the ones I would hire.

A challenge. Maybe? Link

Making sure that you are one of these people that I would prefer to approach than to ignore can be a challenge. It can take a lot of time, effort, and maybe even some money. But just like everything else in life, hard work pays off, and with just a little bit of patience, you can be rocking you’re new look within a few weeks.

I truly believe that anyone can go form a profile zero to a profile hero, and right now, whilst social media is still at it’s infancy, is the best time to make this change in your life in order to reap the benefits in the long term. It’s always good to be ahead of the competition.

And it all starts with asking yourself the simple question: why?

Why This is Important Link


Because you would never go to a party in your pajamas.



Come to think of it, it would be more than just a party. It would be a party where everyone you know, from your mother, to your friends, work colleagues, as well as everyone else who knows these people.

In order to first understand this, I think that it is necessary to understand how web design worked in the early days of the internet. I am not a specialist, and am too young to remember those days… but from what I know and can recollect… there was very little focus on web design. Coders weren’t designers, and the entire industry just didn’t understand the importance of good design on the web yet.

Social media profiles are different, but still a similar concept. Most of us using these platforms aren’t designers, and we still don’t get the importance of having a good looking social media profile.

Today, good web design is often a main focus for most websites!

It’s really easy to find anyone nowadays… a simple Google search can bring up your Facebook and EVERY-OTHER-SOCIAL-MEDIA profile. Anyone can find you at any time. And it’s always an advantage to be prepared and looking your best.

That girl you have a crush on could check (she probably has) your social media profile at any moment.

Anyone can find you at any time.

The CEO of your favorite company might be looking for a new assistant manager and you just so happened to be recommended to him by a friend of a friend. The first thing he would probably do is to check out your Facebook page. Colleges are known to do this too.

I guess that my main point is that in the world of social media and of having these ‘online identities’, you really never do know who is watching… so you might as well make sure that you are looking your best at all times.

Missed opportunities are hard to get back.

How-To Link

I personally spend a lot of time making sure that my online identities look good. My Tumblr blog was custom designed, my Facebook fan page hosts very high quality photos/videos, and I am very selective about the things I write and share. The first thing I want people to think when they visit my page is ‘this looks really good’… because it gives them a reason to want to learn more about me. It makes them curious.

Once they start to click through my profiles they will discover the things I do, my videos, my photos, the articles I write… and only then will they truly judge if they are willing to spend more of their time checking my stuff out. A nicely designed profile does not guarantee that anyone who stumbles upon it will become a fan or a follower… but it does make it a lot easier for that person to be interested in you.

It is an important first step, and when done right… if your work or whatever you do is good enough, then you will have one extra fan, follower, etc!

A good example of this is a Facebook fan page I started almost exactly one year ago. My partner and I post photos of pretty things on an almost daily basis. Our main goal is to make it the prettiest fan page on Facebook, and so far it has been going very well. We are currently at over 2,600 fans purely from word of mouth, and although this is not a large amount, we have a very strong and supportive community and often get a good amount of ‘likes’ and comments on each and every single photo we post.

Why is this? Because we have a great looking profile, and I really do believe that people tend to trust good looking profiles more… which leads to customer loyalty, etc, etc…

Now, I know that I don’t have the worlds best profile and that I can be doing a lot more to make these changes, but so far I am very happy with the results I have been getting, and you can be too.

Here are four points that I believe to be the most important in terms of the design and the aesthetics of your social media profile.

  1. Focus on Visual Media.
  2. Sex does not sell.
  3. Don’t be lazy.
  4. Know what to share.

Focus on Visual Media Link

For the most case, we aren’t really given the tools to custom design our social media profiles exactly the way we want them to look. I believe that this is a good thing because it creates a certain level of equality between users. So then what do you do if you want your profile to shine? You focus on visual media.

It’s simple.

Photos are most probably the biggest and most used feature on Facebook. Take advantage of that. Now I know that not everyone has a good camera, but nowadays it’s pretty easy to find a decent camera for a good price.

Be patient and keep on shooting yourself up until you get that perfect profile picture. You can even ask a friend to shoot you, and if worse comes to worst, you could very simply just hire a professional.

I think that it is also good to have a few (minimum 4) photo albums of the different places you have been with the people you enjoy spending time with. Again, these albums should not be taken on a regular mobile phone camera, rather, they should be taken on a camera with relatively good quality.

It’s funny how people choose to judge others, but I can guarantee that this alone will make a huge difference as to how you are approached by others in the online world.

It is a plus if you are a designer/videographer or any other type of visual artist, mostly because you will be able to create really original and unique albums… especially if your work is really good.


Be Inspiring, Not Sexy Link

In real life, our kids are being more encouraged to be sexy rather than inspiring. I believe that this is very wrong, and thankfully so, it does not seem to be translating very well into the digital world of things.

Now, I know that this is less about design and more of a personal touch… but it really does factor into the whole equation.

There is enough crap on the internet. Everyone is talking about what they are doing, the things they have, the things they want… it’s a very selfish environment… and selfishness is not very attractive.

A good way to boost your social profile is to make it less about yourself and more about everyone else. It’s ironic, but it works.

You can easily do this by posting inspirational status updates, ‘liking’ the work of others, and engage with others by commenting and complimenting on their photos, status updates, etc…

These are all small things, but they can go a long way. It is important though to always be authentic and to only do these things if you believe in them.

Don’t be Lazy Link

You wouldn’t normally leave your house without having showered or shaved for a week… right? The same should be done for our social media profiles!

We often get lazy and end up having multiple untitled albums (mobile uploads, etc), ‘like’ too many different pages, and have a whole list of applications we have signed up to but never understood or use.

This has to change.

Start by going through your individual tabs (info, photos, etc) and cleaning out everything that is unnecessary. Try to label everything as well, and keep things at a bare minimum. Only what is necessary is what counts.

Try to be as active as possible on these platforms, because funnily enough, people tend to be attracted to others who seem to be exciting with many things going on for them. A deserted profile will always stay deserted.

And yes, ALWAYS delete spam posted on your wall.

Know What to Share Link

I think that it is really important to know what to share, as well as what to share on which platforms. One of the biggest things that I have realized with Google+ is that I am a lot likely to share things I find and like mostly because it just looks so good on my Google+ profile.

I wouldn’t normally share the things on Google+ on my Facebook profile, so it is important to become familiar with different platforms and to make sure that the things you share genuinely look good.

You will be seen and represented by the things you share, so the content should be good, and always make sure to add your own two cents.

This can very simply be a trial and error method.

Conclusion Link

I believe that an active, clean, and good looking social media profile (be it Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Tumblr) can benefit an individual greatly. In a world where these platforms are literally changing the way we live and communicate, it only makes sense to jump on board and start taking these first steps.

One of the main reasons I decided to write this article is because I haven’t seen much written about this topic, so I thought that it would be cool to investigate a little bit more into it.

I have created an online identity that I am becoming more like every single day. He is my ideal self, and I always make sure that he looks good… because well, everyone is watching.

The roles are changing, and it’s about time that everyone catches up.

Please feel free to leave your comments below if you agree, disagree, or just have something to add. I would really love to know what you guys think about this.

Footnotes Link

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My name is Karim Boubker. I makes videos, takes photos, enjoys business, and loves social media. I also write articles on things I finds cool and interesting. I host everything I do on, and you can also follow me on twitter @karimboubker, on Google +, and Facebook.

  1. 1

    You need an editor. That went on for much too long.

  2. 5

    Good points, and needed ones I believe. However, on checking your G+ profile, I don’t see how writing in all lowercase and posting images of yourself sticking your tongue out and yawning works with wanting to be taken seriously? Especially for the case of the CEO of your fav company stopping by :)

    • 6

      haha, good point… but let me explain. one of the main points i made above is that it is VERY important to always stay true to who you are. sticking my tongue out does not in any way mean that i don’t have a good looking profile… it just means that i am that type of person. i like my G+ profile, the albums are organized, it’s clean, and i share things i believe look nice! hope you get what i’m talking about!

    • 7

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Martin. I thought the same thing about Karim and his tongue sticking out when he sent me his gravatar, but I guess it’s who he is :)

  3. 8

    Unless you’re using your digital profiles for a goal, whether it’s getting a job or impressing girls, I don’t see why you would want to take it this seriously. I still see digital profiles as a tool to maintain my social network. If I want to represent myself, I’ll meet someone in person.

    Digital profiles are usually lying anyway, no one is who they are on their profile. Sure.. on a plain level. And you can deduct alot of personality traits from profiles.. but still people go much deeper than that. And half of what you think is true may not be true at all. (especially negative traits, such as foul-mouthed or spoiled)

    A simple silly example: girl usually put the best looking pictures on their profiles. The one’s from a top-down view, with nice lightning. But it doesn’t tell the complete tale. you don’t see that pimple on her nose, you don’t see the tone of her skin. They hide that. And I think that’s the case with all digitale profiles, it gives you a fine idea.. but it sure doesn’t tell the complete tale.

    • 9

      Does anyone ever really tell the complete tale? I think that the complete tale is mostly told only to those who are closest to us. I guess that the missing point is that social networks do in fact have an impact on our lives, whether we choose to like it or not, and because of this, we might as well do our best to make that impact a positive one. This is simply because everyone (future employers, employees, our kids, future wives, friends, etc) has access to these profiles!

      • 10

        Ah yes, to that I agree. That’s why I said it’s good to take interest in the quality of your profiles if you have an interest to it.

        For instance: I don’t care about it, I have a nice job, I got my girlfriend, my friends. It’s all fine, I don’t specifically have to put myself forward in the best way if I don’t want to. That also makes my profile mine, albeit it being low ‘quality’ compared to other profiles. It still is me, as I am.

        Well, now I think about it, if you see a profile that’s not updated regularly. doesn’t have fancy pictures and doesn’t do much with it. That might also tell you alot about that person’s behaviour towards social networking ;)

        I agree it’s good to maintain your digitale profiles, but I don’t think it’s as important and personal yet as.. let’s say.. the garden in front of your home. Or the clothing you wear. But in the future, it might well be. I think it will. But not yet ;)

    • 11

      yeah, that is a good point. i guess that if you already have a good job and are happy with everything you have, then there is probably less of a reason for you to be active on these platforms. But just as you said, social media is becoming a more important aspect in our lives daily… and maybe in the future it will be a lot more important than what it is now!

      • 12

        I don’t doubt it will be :)

      • 13

        Even if you have a job it is important to have a good social media profile.

        If you do it correctly you could become a spokesperson for the company/product you work for or an expert in your field. And as you say, it may help you move on up in the company or land you an even better job. Branding yourself is important, and does not happen by itself.

        Having a plan for your posts online is one of these things. I will hear from not so close friends “I always try to read/watch your posts, they are inspiring and interesting.” So no pictures of me and my buddies out getting drunk, but there might be a comment about that wearing a jeans shirt and skinny jeans seems to be the dress code.

    • 14

      Both of you give excellent points and it’s interesting to read your conversation about this topic. This is exactly what we would love to cultivate in Design Informer, more meaningful and intelligent conversations :)

      • 15

        Then put up more articles! ;)

        Kidding, I know you have little time on your hands.

        But we need more articles.

        If and when you have the time.



      • 16

        Peter, we are actually working on doing that.

        My goal is to start publishing at least twice per week :) Looking forward to seeing you become active in our discussions!

  4. 17

    Karim, text is exactly what i have in mind and were active on fb, twitter. now a days i’m google+.. and find that it just more infinite.. i don’t want to compare with others but new things are always welcome and that is what attracts most. users will tend to try it first and guess what, google+ has everything which i was thinking since long time.

    it was really good to see your post. thanks for sharing.. keep rocking!!


  5. 20

    Huh, I was thinking about this idea for Twitter backgrounds, specifically. I was thinking about designing a fancy-pants background for my page, but I was wondering how important that is anymore. From my understanding, most of the magic happens within a user’s own timeline or in a mobile app.

    How many people actually click over to ?

    I don’t know and until I have some indication, I’d rather not spend the time to create something no one will see.

    Thoughts on Twitter backgrounds?

    • 21

      Good point Ted. I don’t think that a twitter background is too important, and quite honestly, can’t even remember the last time I actually went to another users profile. This being said, it’s important to note that whenever you follow someone, they will probably check out your profile before they follow you back. In this case, a nicely design background can have a really good impact. And don’t forget a cool profile photo as well!

      • 22

        Yeah, I’m with you on the profile photo being important since that appears everywhere. Good point about landing on a profile page when deciding to follow a user. The profile background might not be important to most users, but it could help ‘close the sale’ with new followers, so to speak!

      • 23

        I personally think if you can create a custom background for your profile, then you might as well do it. It shouldn’t really take that long and for someone like me, it adds another way to make your profile more professional. But definitely, your profile pic really matters.

  6. 24

    I agree with everything said, but let’s be mindful that things like fashion and overall in-person social appearance, hygiene, and behavior, etc. are a little bit more universal and everyone has exposure to what’s “good”, “bad”, etc. Some people don’t have the slightest idea about internet presence. A lot of people probably think customizing their myspace with a million animated gifs and sparkly objects with their favorite sports car in the background looks wicked cool. Many people aren’t capable of utilizing the tools we work with every day or have the same set of knowledge of design and internet etiquette. It’s easy to be critical when you forget how uncommon our knowledge set is amongst the masses. That is why we (people who work with new/interactive media) have jobs.

    Also like Peter was saying, many people’s aim with Social Media, etc. is not to impress people. My social media page is very casual, as I am with my friends and family. If people want to see all relevant work skills and a picture of me in a snazzy outfit they should be looking at my LinkedIn profile, not Google+, Myspace, or Facebook. Those are for my friends, not employers. My friends don’t judge me, I don’t need to be wearing a suit in my photo and listing all my skills in my profile because it’s irrelevant. If I was aiming to advertise my business entity on Facebook/Google+ I’d use a different profile. My Facebook isn’t even linked to my real name, as many people I know, because we don’t call each other by our government names.

    The fact that these sites are largely based around people mingling with each other in a casual manner I think makes people very comfortable with tending to it very little, unlike how we would treat our appearance in person. Hopefully that made sense.

    • 25

      Yeah that’s true, and probably a point a should have made in the article! Not every one is design savvy, and hence, not everyone will be able to do the things I’ve mentioned above. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to write this article, to inform people that there is a solution… and just like everything else in life, if there’s a will, then there’s a way. Hope this made sense :).

  7. 26

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. It’s so important to NOT conceal your true personality, after all it is often our ‘real’ personality that dictates what kind of creatives we are. I particularly agree with the comments about having a more “suited and booted” approach on LinkedIn, but let’s face it LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy to express who you really are unless you have a ton of recommendations that describe your personality and quirks (good or bad!).

    In my mind having a mix of profiles is a good thing. If a prospective employee (or client) is sounding you out by looking at all of your social profiles surely it paints a more truthful picture of you as a person and a professional if you are honest and open.

    In a sense it’s like having an interview; you arrive looking your best and being super-professional but nine times out of ten you’ll be asked questions that encourage you reveal more facets of yourself than a black and white resume ever could.

    • 27

      Very nicely put Missy! I love your last point… and this is actually a topic that I have been thinking a lot about for the past couple of months. Is social media killing the CV? I really do think so, as in, I believe that in a few years the CV will no longer be relevant… which means that our social media profiles will play a much bigger role than they already do now.

      Many above have argued that they aren’t using social media to get a job, etc, which means that they don’t necessarily have to do the things I’ve mentioned above… but is this really smart in the long term? What if they want to change jobs? What if they are missing out on better opportunities?

      Your comment has made me realize that even though what I said above may not be very relevant now, it is indeed a way to prepare for the future. Working for the long term is always the best way to do things… thanks a lot!

  8. 28

    you should write a book.

  9. 30

    Ok, I know Karim is my brother, but if I thought the article sucked then I would say it! I think it is a really interesting and current article. My favorite part was the bit about ‘sex does not sell’…I think nowadays most people would disagree with you, as this is used in almost all movies and video clips, etc; however I also think that it does not sell and once people realise this better things will come! keep rocking and sticking your tongue out, LoL.

    • 31

      Hi Layla! I think that the point I was trying to make about ‘sex does not sell’ is that in the world of social media – sex is not a professional way to present yourself. It can put people off and misrepresent you, but of course, this is only my opinion! Anyways, thanks for the comment!

  10. 32

    *Goes to bathroom to shave for first time in a week* :D Excellent article mate.

  11. 34

    Vladislav Melnik

    August 5, 2011 11:53 am

    “Eye candy is really important, and if eye candy is what they want, then eye candy is what we should give to them… right?” … true story! ;) Great article, thank you!

    • 35

      You’re very welcome Vladislav! It really was a pleasure to write, and even better to see all of this great feedback. Thanks for the comment!

  12. 36

    Great article! I fully agree that maintaining a visually professional digital image is important. No one likes a slob in real life, so why would they online? But your advice about staying true to yourself is most important in my eyes. If everyone put on a polite generic face then what makes individuals interesting and inspiring would wither away. So keep on yawning and sticking your tongue out, lol. The more confident you are in being yourself, the more people will identify with and gravitate towards you.

    • 37

      Excellent point Andres, couldn’t have said it better myself! I believe that it is extremely important to stay true to yourself whilst portraying your identity. Combine this uniqueness with a great looking profile and you are on to something really special. Authenticity is attractive and relatable, I wish more people (and companies) understood this!

  13. 38

    I really get what you are saying, as When I first started to use twitter, I was stressed why nobody is following me. After some time, I was instructed to put a picture on my profile, and saw that people tend to open up, to speak to you, if they can see who they are speaking too.

    Good points and I like how you made the connection from the offline life, to the online presence.

    • 39

      Yeah, that makes sense… I normally tend to ignore twitter followers without a profile picture as well, so I understand what you are talking about. At the end of the day, we are still human, and not knowing who you are talking to is a little creepy! I’m glad to hear that you like the connection I made from the offline life to the online presence!


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