Remind is a communication platform that helps teachers reach students and parents where they are. Through the app, users can send real-time messages to any phone, message a class, a person, or just a small group, translate messages into more than 85 languages, and share photos, handouts, and other files.

In order to observe Remind’s user experience and interface, I joined my old high school in Greenville, North Carolina and lurked a little on the Gospel Choir club, playing around with the different functionalities. I even messaged a random student to test the messaging function (Sorry, Amajha, for the random messages 😅).

Something I found lacking was the default profile icons, which uses the initials of each user, similar to the iOS contacts app.
I found the bubble with two letters clinical and monotonous, especially for an app promoting human interaction and communication. What ends up happening is a lot of grey, rendering the mood of the app a little lifeless. I decided to experiment with the icons already existing in the app, shown below.

I created a set of 7 more avatars as potential options for the default profile icon, basing the style off the illustrations that are already in the app. I wanted to represent a diverse set of options and be as inclusive of Remind’s multiple users as possible. Meg Robichaud, an illustrator for Shopify, wrote an article called "You Can't Just Draw Purple People and Call it Diversity“ and made some great points regarding gender roles and skin colour in illustrations that I kept in mind while designing. 

As you can see, the simple addition of making everyone choose a default icon they believe best suits them livens up these screens and makes conversations feel like they’re actually going to a person and not a set of grey letters.
Below are the completed avatars! Click here to see everything in high-resolution.