In this very column in the March
2012 issue of Website Magazine,
an article was published that
highlighted one example of a
popular brand page from each of
the “Big 3” social networks:
Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Since all three of these networks underwent
massive design changes in the last
12 months, now is a great time to revisit
what it takes to design a compelling
profile on these social media sites.
When we last left Google+, the site
used a very clean, whitespace-heavy
design for its pages. A brand’s primary
profile image appeared in the
upper left-hand corner of the page. Header images
consisted of either five different image fields or the
flexibility of stretching one image across all five
boxes. The profile’s wall was just below that.
Now the site completely changed its look, moving
the profile photo to the right side slightly overlapping
the new header image that runs the length of the profile’s
wall. For a great example of how to pull off this
new look, we turn to Amazon (see image A).
Amazon uses the large space provided for their profile
photo to include a simple, abbreviated version of its
logo featuring the company’s famous font and smiling
arrow. For the cover photo, the company employs an
eye-catching image with a bright yellow-orange background
(for brand recognition) and a picture that takes
up approximately the left third of the space. This is an
ideal design because it is clutter-free (a big problem with
many G+ cover photos), while being visually stimulating
and instantly inciting brand recognition.
Facebook (Food Network)
Facebook’s new Timeline layout rocked the ’Net in
2012, as it completely changed how Brand Pages looked
and performed. In fact, studies show that the Timeline
layout helps brands drive higher-engagement metrics.
Better performance is likely due to the new design’s
emphasis on highly visual content and the additional
control it gives managers over profile content.
The biggest change that Timeline brought to
Brand Pages is the cover photo, which allows brands
to feature an 851 pixels-wide by 315 pixels-tall
image on the top of their profile. This image can promote
a brand while grabbing a visitor’s attention.
The Food Network, for example, often uses its cover
photo space to promote new television shows,
such as, “Rachel vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off.” The
straightforward cover photo immediately captures a
visitor’s attention and the text on the image provides
visitors with programming information (see image B).
Aside from the bold new cover photo, Timeline
also gives Page managers the ability to customize their
app section, pin posts to the top of their Pages and
highlight content. Typically, brands will want to customize
the app section to feature apps that can help
them reach more customers or expand their brand,
such as email sign-up, e-commerce or event apps. Additionally,
by pinning posts or highlighting content,
Page managers have the ability to feature important
content more effectively.
Following in the footsteps of the recent image-driven
redesigns of Google+ and Facebook, Twitter also announced
a change to its layout that allows users to
create custom header images for their profiles.
The new update eliminates the banner image that
brands previously used for promotions or additional
branding. Instead, the update enables users to upload
a 520 pixels-wide by 260 pixels-tall image featured
atop a user’s profile. Choose these images carefully,
because the header also features the user’s profile picture,
name, Twitter handle and description information
(in white writing) directly in the middle of the image.
One of the most creative header images comes from
Mercedes-Benz USA, which displays the front end of a
car so that the company’s profile image (a Mercedes
symbol) resides in the center of the vehicle’s grill (see
image C). Furthermore, the image doesn’t distract from
the description text and also provides a dark enough
background so that the white words are readable.
A Constant Evolution
All three social networks completely overhauled their
profile designs during the course of 2012, and they
likely will again (many times) in the future. Since social
media is a major factor in an online brand’s success, you
owe it to yourself and your business to keep up with
these changes, big and small, to optimize the design of
your various social media profiles.