How to make a profile header image


Facebook was the first social network to introduce the big image banner on its profile pages, giving them a kind of blog-magazine look. Now it’s pretty standard – LinkedIn being the latest platform to roll it out. You can always stick with a standard old plain colour background or one of the free images that come with the platform. But why not create a custom image?

Your header image is a prime piece of online real estate – a strong header will increase your branding and visibility, showcase you or your work and help attract new connections. What I’m talking about here is the big image which spreads across the top and behind some elements of your profile page. (This is different from your profile photo/avatar/headshot.)

Here’s a quick run-through of what you need to know.

1) Find out the optimum size for your profile header image – this differs from one platform to another. (Remember that the image will display differently on tablets, mobile phones and computers with different size screen resolutions.)

Twitter - how to change your header image

You can change your Twitter header image in the settings as shown here, or just click ‘Edit Profile’ on your Profile page.

Recommended sizes are currently:

Twitter: (‘header image’) 1500 x 500 pixels, max 5mb

Facebook: (‘cover photo’) 851 x 315 pixels, minimum size 399 x 150 – but this will be stretched to fill.
There’s a great Facebook Page that explains in detail the current different areas of the cover picture, how it scales on mobile devices and more, so if you want to make a precise job of it then take a look and download the latest templates here.

LinkedIn: (header or ‘hero image’) 1400 x 425 pixels, max 4mb

YouTube Channel: (‘channel art’) 2560 X 1440 pixels. Refer to this helpful article to find out more, including how it will display on different devices.

Google Plus: (‘cover image’) Max size 2120 x 1192 pixels, minimum 480 x 270. However, to ensure maximum quality on all screens, tablets or smartphones, the recommended size is at least 920 x 250 px but not more than 1080 x 608 px, otherwise some of the information will get lost.

Here’s the Google+ step by step guide to uploading or changing your cover photo.

2) Check out what others are doing – find some striking examples of header images and get inspired.

3) Decide on what you want the image to convey. This is your showcase – what do you want to get across? Your personal ‘brand’? The genre or style of your writing? Something more specifically about your current book? Dates and times of forthcoming appearances? If your image is to contain specific information then make sure the important stuff is in the ‘safe’ areas of the image. Some of the resources referred to here will help you with that, or you can do it the old fashioned way – trial and error!

4) You can create a custom image even if you don’t have design tools like Photoshop. Check out Pixlr it’s a free online image manipulation software and easy to use.

5) Follow the instructions from your profile or settings page, and save your new header image. If it doesn’t quite fit or look right, you can tweak it and re-upload.

Facebook - update your cover image

In Facebook, hover over your cover photo and the ‘Update Cover Photo’ will appear – click on that

TIP: if you hit the ‘upload’ button but nothing happens, it could be that your image is too large (file size) or the wrong dimensions, or the wrong file type. You won’t always get a message telling you what the problem is. So if your image isn’t uploading double-check all the sizes and instructions about permitted file types (eg .jpg and .png may be permitted, but not .tif or .psd).

New Twitter Profiles – What You Need to Know


Twitter has now rolled out its new profile pages and there are quite a few improved features. Here’s how to get it (if you haven’t yet) and what you need to know.

First of all, if you haven’t noticed your Twitter profile changing, you can get the new profile by going to this page and at the bottom click ‘Get it now’.

Old Style Twitter profile page

Old style Twitter profile page

The first obvious change is the layout – instead of the old version with a full-screen background and a header image the width of the main column of tweets, we now have a full-width header with your Twitter avatar (the image that represents you) offset to the left. The look is a bit like Facebook, and indeed some people have criticised Twitter for merely imitating Facebook rather than coming up with something more original.

New style Twitter profile page

New style Twitter profile page

Personally I quite like the new look. Having the larger avatar, plus the name and description on the left feels clearer and cleaner, and I also like the additional detail of showing the date joined. Also on the left we now have a feature ‘Followers you know’, which, again in a Facebook-esque touch, is designed to help you decide whether this person is worth following.

Underneath the header, a horizontal menu now gives pride of place to the stats (numbers of tweets, photos, followers, following, favourites.) It’s a shame that Lists is now relegated to the ‘More’ dropdown menu, as I think it makes this great (and under-used) function even more hidden. But the other advantage of the layout is that the tweets themselves are now higher up on the page and centre-stage.

Another welcome improvement is the ability to filter out all the @ replies. This means that unless you click on ‘Tweets and replies’ when you view someone’s profile, you don’t have to wade through all the one-to-one back-and-forth conversations that go on. Not that @ replies are a bad thing – far from it, as they can be an indicator that a person is actually engaging with people, and not a broadcaster or a robot. But for a quick assessment of the quality of a person’s tweets, it’s easier when you can opt to just view their ‘open’ tweets.

Twitter profile page - new style tweets and replies option

You’ll notice that in the new profile some tweets appear enlarged. This happens to your most retweeted or favourited tweets, as a way of highlighting them, so the visitor’s eye is drawn to your ‘Best Tweets’. And another way of drawing attention to specific tweets, but this time it’s under your control, is to ‘pin’ a tweet to your page. This means it stays at the top of your tweet stream until you ‘unpin’ it. Again, the highlighting and pinning functions are not unlike Facebook, so if you’re familiar with Facebook you’re get the idea right away.

So what should you do with your new profile?

Do the following – start by clicking on the ‘Edit Profile’ button on the top right of your profile page.

Twitter edit profile

    1. Create and upload a suitable header image. You have ONE big image now – it’s prime real estate, so don’t waste it. See how Mindy McGinnis (above) has used hers to promote her latest book. But it could equally be something more abstract or atmospheric – just choose an image that says something about you.

Size: Twitter recommends 1500 pixels wide x 500 pixels high, but on a large screen that will be stretched out beyond looking nice. So go for bigger – 3000 x 1000 pixels would be good, at as high a resolution (dots per inch) you can manage, for good quality. There’s a 5MB maximum size though – and if you exceed this it’s likely you’ll just find it takes AGES to load (and never does) – you don’t always get told what the problem is, but it’s likely to be size.

2. Create and upload your avatar. This should be 400 x 400 pixels. On your profile it appears at 200 x 200, and smaller on your tweet stream of course. But when someone clicks on it they’ll see the large version. The main thing is to make sure the quality is good and the image still viewable when shrunk.

The good news is that you no longer need a background image. With the old layout it was always a faff to create a background image with logos or writing or images on it, because bits of it were always going to be obscured. So just choose a plain colour that complements your header and other colours (text, links etc). I think you’ll be pleased with the final effect.