Best Practices: New Twitter Headers and Mobile Updates
Bryden McGrath Sep 18 2012
Twitter rolled out a slew of changes today. The big conversation piece: The addition of profile “header” images. These images are just like Facebook and Google Plus headers. But on Twitter, the new header section also houses your all-important profile picture, name, handle, bio, location, and website.
This update affects both Twitter’s web client and their mobile app, which was a surprise to many brands. Read on for best practices regarding the new Twitter headers, and the new mobile app.
New Twitter Headers
Your profile picture now lives in the header section. Following/follower stats sit just below the header.
The basic navigation remains the same: clicking the tabs in the left-hand column (Tweets, Following, Followers, Favorites, Lists) keeps users on your profile. So, if someone comes to my profile and wants to see who I’m following, that list will display below the new header section.
Header Setup, Dimensions & Tips
Uploading your new header image is simple:
- Prepare an image. Bigger is better as long as you don’t exceed 1252 x 626 (the optimal viewing size across all devices). Remember, your bio and other information will display over the top of the image. So pick something that’ll keep that text readable. Anything smaller than 700 or so pixels wide looks like a game of Minecraft, though.
- Log into your Twitter account.
- Head to “Settings” from the drop-down menu in the top right of the Twitter menu bar. From here, select “Design” as if you were going to change your profile’s theme or background image. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see the new header image option.
- You won’t need to spend a lot of time editing the size of the image you want to use. After you choose an image, Twitter lets you customize how you want to display the image. This is why I recommend choosing a large image to upload, as you can easily zoom in and out to get the right look.
And, since it always helps to have the actual dimensions: In the web client, the header image itself is 520 x 260.
Some other tips:
- From my tests, it seems that Twitter darkens the header image. Beware of this if you’re uploading a dark image. If you don’t like the finished product on your profile, try brightening the photo slightly and re-uploading.
- Keep the image simple. It will compete with your profile photo and bio for attention.
- As of right now, there appears to be no way to change the text color in the header section. The default is white, so you’ll probably want to upload an image without a lot of bright colors to avoid clashing.
- Remember, if your header image doesn’t go well with your background image or theme, everything is customizable. You may want to worry more about making your header section aesthetically pleasing since it’s home to your bio and is front and center on the new profile layout.
Some Twitter Header Inspiration
If you look hard enough, some people and brands have already updated their profiles. Here are some early favorites.
Setting the header via Twitter Mobile
In addition to the big changes for the web-based version, Twitter released an update to its mobile app – version 5.0 for iOS and version 3.4 for Android. If you’d like to setup your header image via the app, here’s how:
- Navigate to the “Me” section of the app, tap the gear symbol and then select “Edit profile.” Choose “Header.”
- You can take a photo for your new header image or choose an image that’s already stored on your phone. If you choose an existing photo, you can zoom in or out before it’s uploaded.
- Once you’re happy with your new header image, your mobile profile will look something like this. To see your bio, location and website, slide the header to the left.
The other new feature on your mobile profile is a photo stream strip, located right below your last three tweets. Slide the photos to the left and you can browse all the photos a user has shared in their tweets.
We’ll play around with this and give you an update soon.
One quick note about the photo stream: As Android Police points out, the stream only includes images uploaded through Twitter or Instagram.
That covers the major changes I’ve seen so far.
What’s your take on the headers and redesigned profiles? Let me know in the comments.