Is Your Twitter Header Blurry?

I would like to address a pet peeve of mine in regards to the aesthetic elements of various social media platforms. I believe presentation is sometimes overlooked or taken lightly when establishing a social media account. I feel from a branding standpoint, consistency goes a long way. I’ve researched a variety of Twitter accounts and have found that many Twitter headers are pixilated, or look ‘blurry’. If you Google: ‘blurry Twitter header’, you will find many blog posts stating approaches to solving this problem (In Cloud Design, Carly Jamison). As an example, if you visit Notre Dame’s main Twitter page, you’ll notice that the header looks blurry.

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The cause of this usually pertains to graphic design. The image that was originally rendered was already pixilated and either went unnoticed or the social media administrator gave up trying to sharpen the image because the administrator did not know how or because the dimensions of the image weren’t in sync with Twitter’s header layout. If a user or an organization would like to have a sharp and visually appealing header image then the first thing to do is start with a high resolution image. High resolution correlates to high definition; if you refer to an image’s information, it will report a dimension size.

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For the most part, the image’s dimension size will provide you with insight on the image’s resolution density. If a particular image size is 1000 pixels by 1000 pixels than it is fair to say that the image quality is not bad. Anything equal to, or above 720 pixels is considered high definition. Be aware of the fact that this principle is not set in stone; believe it or not you can have a very pixilated image existing within 4k dimensions (it all depends on the image source). The three elements to address in terms of header image quality are:

1) Image source – is the image high definition?

2) Image layout – does the image fit well within Twitter’s layout dimensions?

3) File type – render the image in the highest quality file format

Let’s say you’ve found an image that you’re pleased with; the image is crisp and clear and you would want nothing more than to have this image represent your Twitter header. You will need to crop the image within Twitter’s layout guidelines. The latest template for 2015 provides the dimensions for the best possible cropping.

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If you notice, the Twitter icon is 240 pixels by 240 pixels. Twitter has made the icon element run over onto the header; this is important because you might not want your header image to interfere with the icon. The overall field is 1500 pixels wide by 500 pixels tall. If you would like to have the header run just right of the icon than you would need to have your image start 340 pixels in from the left side. Accessing graphic design platforms such Photoshop and Gimp will provide you with a range of cropping tools. Lastly, saving the image in a high quality file format is also crucial; make sure that the file format you select is on the highest quality setting. There have been some recommendations made on various blog sites recommending that Twitter header images be saved in a .png file format as opposed to .jpeg. Experiment and see if there is indeed a difference in quality. A blurry Twitter header seems to be a wide scale issue. As little as the issue may seem, I believe that there is tremendous value communicated if a user or brand is able to gain contrast among all the blurry Twitter headers; therefore, presenting a header that is synonymous with the integrity associated with their messaging. What do you think? Do you think there is value for brands/institutions to replace a blurry Twitter header?

7 comments

  1. Interesting nuance of a good social media strategy. First impressions mean a lot and nonverbally communicate professionalism. A quick side-project this summer as digital marketing manager at a startup was to create sleek, *high quality profile and header images across all platforms to replace the old ones (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.). I can’t find the exact post I referenced, but it was essentially the same as described here http://blogs.constantcontact.com/social-media-image-sizes/ The headers and profile images were custom-made to fit each platform.

    I definitely think it makes a difference. Just like how you dress and groom for an interview. It’s often a trick to inspect interviewee’s eyebrows or nails to see how they take care of themselves. This may seem trivial but it factors into the overall impression of a candidate. Same goes for blurry headers, typos, and dysfunctional links on a brand’s digital presence.

  2. As a photography and graphics buff, I thank you for this post! That template is extremely useful and I’ve actually made one for myself in the past to use with Facebook. Although most “average” users probably don’t even realize the error of their header-making ways, I do think that organizations, whether companies or universities, should know better. Quite frankly, I’m surprised that Notre Dame uploaded such a blurry image!

  3. This was a super detailed evaluation! I definitely think there’s a lot of value for brands to make the most presentable social media visuals as possible. It certainly gives off a bad image when someone like Notre Dame shows an almost lack of interest in acquiring a high quality photo for something that is so visible to the public eye. Think about how many hits the Notre Dame twitter page gets. Think about how many people have seen the blurry image. Not everyone sat down and made a blog post about the topic, like you, and I’m super glad that you did, but a lot of people probably thought to themselves about why Notre Dame would present themselves in that manner to the Internet.

  4. Ugh! This is a petpeeve of mine too. I recently blogged about a startup called MassNightly and the quality of their photos is extremely poor, although their company and their company’s mission is impressive! I definitely interpret poor quality photos as being unprofessional and lazy. However, I learned first hand through my interview with MassNightly that their perceived laziness in this regard is actually due to lack of resources and knowledge surrounding the importance of this issue. My dad runs our family-owned funeral home’s social media page and he has shown me time and time again the image that you posted regarded the “perfect” Facebook dimensions. He was previously in an eye care business where we learned a lot about how visuals impact perception. I think it’s a very interesting topic that has psychological impacts every time we engage with social media.

  5. Wow, detailed post. You can tell we’re getting late in the semester when blog posts are getting this detailed. Love it!

  6. I found this to be an interesting post because I’ve actually encountered that same pet peeve over the course of my internship this summer. I interned for a small marketing agency, and one of my occasional tasks was to review the social media pages of our B2B clients and make recommendations for changes they should make. One of our clients had a completely pixilated image that they used not only as a Twitter header, but also as the Facebook cover photo as well. Replacing it with a non-blurry image was the first and most straightforward recommendation I had for the company, and in my recommendation I stated how their current blurry header was the first impression for the company yet it was basically a visual representation of laziness and unprofessionalism. It honestly baffled me that a legitimate business would allow the blurry image to remain up on social media considering how easy of a fix it is. At any rate, this was a great post that raised a very valid, and rather unique, argument about aesthetics in SM.

  7. Great blog; couldn’t agree with you more on the importance of this.

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