Design challenge: Facebook Timeline Cover Images

The profile image/logo has a prominent placement within the Timeline cover image.  As we design branded Covers, we find it is best to work with the profile image rather than fight with it.

This reminds me of a time I was watching my dad finish a painting.  He was getting ready to put in his signature.  I asked him if he always put it in the same place.  He said, no, you have to find a “home” for the signature in the painting.  So the size, location, and color of the signature would vary from painting to painting.

I was thinking about this in relation to the Timelines Cover images.  The profile image really needs to have a “home” within the Cover image.

In this example for Rink Strategic Communications, the colors of the image work with the logo. For example, the black in Susan’s camisole anchors with the black in her logo — it also calls attention to her as the important person in the photograph (besides the fact that she is in the center 🙂

Could a tagline have also been included here in the Cover?  Maybe, but I think the text would have been too busy and would have competed with the R.  What you want for many Facebook Cover images is a compelling photograph or design that complements the profile image.  With Facebook Timeline Covers, you have to know when to walk away.

When planning the Timeline image for other clients, I also look at the Cover in terms of balance and composition.  For example, there is a good space in the upper right corner.  You don’t want to crowd the left side too much, since the profile picture is there.

That is the approach we took with this design for the Keenan PR Facebook Page.  This is basically a banner ad she already (created by another designer) that she liked that we reworked for her as a Timeline Cover.

We flipped the image so the Silver Anvil award is on the right, and we moved the text and changed the font.  So, the result is a more balanced composition that works with her logo, which is her profile image.  See how the logo points at the message and the award? Cool, huh?  That was almost accidental 🙂

This is also a good example (we didn’t design) from Constant Contact UK that gives the profile image a “home” in the Timeline Cover and makes good use of that upper right corner/sweet spot… You can tell this image was designed expressly for Facebook.

There is also a really nice flow, composition, and a great match between the Cover image and the profile image in this example from Manchester United (we did not design this one, either).

Look, by contrast, at this one from the New York Times. I suppose with that red staircase that it’s an interesting photograph.  But does it make a good Timeline image?  In my opinion, no.  Nothing about the image communicates anything about the attributes (or a single attribute) of the New York Times (other than they have a lot of employees and a really cool staircase).  It’s not memorable.  It doesn’t play nicely with the profile image. I think they should give this one another shot….

Facebook is a fun and friendly environment, and it has a certain cool factor.  Being overly corporate on Facebook would be a mistake just as it would be a mistake to use business jargon at a backyard barbecue.  Brands have a real opportunity with these Facebook Page Timeline Covers.  It’s worthwhile to design them well — to delight the viewer, as well as convey a message.


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on March 16, 2012, in Facebook Tips, Graphic Design Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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