Some Things To Consider When Designing Social Media Cover Images
Social media cover images are a niche area of digital design that, apart from discussions on sizing, seem to be rarely touched upon.
This could partly be because they are not really considered that relevant, however the increasing importance of social media to a company’s brand image have meant that even more individual oriented sights like Linkdin have opened the doors to customised cover photos for their premium members, and the constant array of new social media start-ups suggests this trend is going to continue.
In this blog entry, I’ll be discussing some useful social media cover image considerations, as well as what I consider to be some excellent examples within this field.
It may be the case that you require some text in your social media cover photo in order to explain some product or service you offer. If this is the case, you may want to take into account that different social media sights use different compression algorithms to embed your image, sometimes producing less than stunning results.
This is not so much the case for Google +, where intricate illustrated designs can stand out in all their high definition glory (see Mashable as an example) this is probably due to their relatively small size compared to other social media headers, however twitter headers can also be relatively complicated but remain in good quality.
Awesome artwork for Mashable’s Google+ page
The story is slightly different for Linkd In however, who recently introduced the option of adding custom headers to personal accounts.
This has been hampered in some people’s eyes by their compression algorithm that can downgrade photography and make text look quite pixelated. However, I don’t really see this as a bad thing, as it allows people to find interesting work-arounds or use text anyway as a statement, “I don’t need glossy high res imagery, my page stands out for itself”.
One good example of this is the personal Linkdin profile of Melonie Dorado.
A simple and concise page from Linkdin expert Melonie Dorado
Although simple, the text is nicely formatted, and even though it is indeed pixelated when you look closely, the text and her image against the white background are indeed appealing.
A Nice Workaround
Another good example is Richard Branson’s Linkd in profile. Here a purposefully washed out low res photograph has been used, this is a clever workaround to Linkd In’s current compression limitations.
Richard Branson’s Linkdin Image has a purposefully low res feel to deal with compression limitations.
Facebook can have similar issues with both imagery and text, be sure compress your image down as much as possible without degrading it’s quality too much. Less than 100 KB is the recommended size, but you may consider getting it under 50 KB if you really want to ensure that no odd lines or other blemishes appear in your image.
Originally, there was also a 20% limit on the amount of text that could take up your Facebook cover photo, however this has recently been scrapped.
Personally, I am a big fan of illustrated cover photos. Even though photographic cover photos can be equally engaging, I enjoy an illustrated image that creates a sense of space with some fantastical scene. Again, I quote Mashable as being an excellent example of a Facebook cover image, with a style that retains the colours of the Google + image but introduces more thin lines which work well with Facebook’s compression.
Mashable aren’t afraid to mix up design styles between their social media headers.
I also love the twitter cover photo of the company www.leadpages.net. It’s such a subtle illustration of the power of flat design on the web and really demonstrates the principle that often, the more simple something is, the more correct it is, while creating an expansive scene that captivates the mind.
A lovely illustrated scene for the Twitter cover image of Lead Pages
In the near future, I believe there will be more companies that specialise to some degree specifically in social media imagery, and that as more social media start-ups develop, the social media space will become an increasingly intricate canvas for experimentation in the ever expanding showroom of web based design.
References https://plus.google.com/+Mashable/posts https://www.linkedin.com/in/meloniedodaro https://www.linkedin.com/in/rbranson https://www.facebook.com/mashable https://twitter.com/leadpages