How To Customise Your Twitter Background

Found this over at the American Express OPEN Forum – “How To Customise Your Twitter Background“. Great “how to” for those who believe that customizing your Twitter page’s background is a key move for overall branding (whether personal or corporate branding).

I subscribe to that… but reading through commenter ileaneb’s blog, here’s another point to ponder: It’s possible to put too much effort into customizing your Twitter background… why? Because, seriously, how many people check out Tweets via your Twitter page? Most of us (myself included) use all sorts of Tweet aggregators and Twools to follow Tweets – never once bothering to venture into one’s Tweet page.

So, my conclusion is this: Do spend some time customizing your Twitter page’s background, but don’t put up too much hope that it will become a serious lead generator or such.

How to customize:

Use an Image Editor

To create your background, you’ll need an image editor, preferably one with layering and compositing tools.  Photoshop is best suited for the task, but there are a few comparable online (and free) alternatives.

Gimp is a free, open-source image editing and compositing tool that has many of Photoshop’s abilities and filters. Aviary‘s Phoenix is another great free tool that is entirely web based.  You can edit and layer images in a Photoshop-like environment right in your web browser and save the results to your desktop. Photoshop.com also offers a free, “light,” web-based version of the popular software.

Lay Out Your Background

Once you’ve chosen your tools and have your ideas, take a moment to understand how a Twitter profile page is formatted and build your design from there.

Page Dimensions: Twitter houses its content in a 760 pixel column in the center of the page.  This element remains constant for anyone viewing your profile on the web.  The amount of space left for the background will depend on the resolution of the monitor on which it is being viewed.

To ensure that your background image will not be cut off or overlapped by Twitter’s content column at varied resolutions, use a large image size for your background.  A safe bet is 1680 x 1200 pixels.

Maximum File Size: 800 KB JPEG, GIF, or PNG

Layout: When designing your background, leave about 65 pixels at the top of your image for the Twitter logo, and utilize a width of about 200 pixels at the left for your key design elements (logos, text, etc.).

It’s important to note that Twitter will align the background image to the top-left of the page, so focus your main content there and place it as far to the left as possible.  This will ensure that viewers at lower resolutions won’t lose half of your logo behind the content column.

There are a few tools that can help you determine what your layout will look like at different resolutions. To quickly determine your own resolutions as a reference point, check out whatismyscreenresolution.com. FireFox users can install the Web Developer add-on which will resize your browser at common resolutions.  You can simulate how others may be viewing your page. Screen-resolution.com is also a handy tool for popping URLs into resolution-specific browser windows.

Add your background to Twitter by logging into your account on the web and clicking Settings > Design > Change Background Image, and then browsing for your file.  Once you upload, you can see your design in action and get a sense of any layout changes you may need to make.

Also, be sure to choose text and link colors that compliment your background.

Design Tip: Don’t clutter your background with too much information. Because URLs are not clickable in a background, this space is best suited for logos, photos, or other clean graphic elements that express what your business is all about.

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