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.
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.
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.
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?