On Tuesday, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo went on the Today Show to talk about Twitter and announce some pretty big changes to Twitter profiles, along with a new iPad app and updated iPhone and Android apps. The biggest change across all platforms is the new “header photos,” which make the profiles look at lot more like Facebook Timelines. There are changes to all platforms, including photo streams for Twitter for iPhone and Android and a new layout on iPads. Almost all of the changes are to put more emphasis on images.
As you update your apps and start to choose a header image for your profile, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Your avatar is still important. – Because your avatar appears smaller on the new profile pages and the header photo may grab more attention, it can be easy too assume that the header image is more important. But keep in mind that your avatar appears in other places, while the header photo doesn’t. When someone is reading your tweets in their timeline, a hashtag stream, or a third-party app, they will see your avatar. For branding purposes, you still want your Twitter avatar to convey who you are. For a brand, that may mean it includes your logo or a product. For an individual, this may mean using a clear picture of your face as your avatar.
The middle of your header photo will be covered. – Unlike Facebook Timeline cover photos, Twitter header photos have a lot of content covering it up. Your Twitter avatar is pretty much smack in the middle of it, with all of your profile information below it. This includes your name, Twitter handle, description, location, and URL, assuming you have all of this information filled out (which you should!).
This is very important for brands who wish to include their logo, but also for anyone uploading a photo. You’ll want to make sure that the focal point of your header photo is off-center, or it will be partially covered by your information.
Your Twitter info appears in white text. – All of that information sitting on top of your header photo appears in white. Because of this, you’ll probably want to avoid a header photo with a white background or with a lot of light colors. Not only will this ensure that your information can be easily read, but the contrast will also make your photo “pop” more.
Look at the photos you upload. – The mobile apps now have a stream of recently uploaded photos underneath your recent tweets. Regardless of whether or not you have upgraded your profile on Twitter.com, a user will see this photo stream on their mobile device if they have the updated app. In the new iPad app, images appear much larger in the stream, and the “Recent Images” area of the Twitter.com sidebar has also changed.
It’s gone from a row of 4 small thumbnails to a grid of 6 slightly larger thumbnails. Between the larger size and increased number, users will notice your pictures more than ever, so make sure they are attractive and relevant. If you have never tweeted any visuals, now is a great time to start doing so, since that fact will be more noticeable with the new appearance!
Different devices have different looks. – While the general layout of the profile remains pretty much the same across all devices, differences in screen sizes and dimensions mean slightly different profiles. The proportion between your avatar and header photo will change a little bit going from Twitter.com to either of the iOS apps. Mashable has pointed out that the profile looks less than stellar on an Android tablet. On the iPhone and Android apps, the default profile view just shows your header photo, avatar, name, and handle, and you have to swipe to another screen to see your bio, location, and URL.
Get creative! – As always, you want to use your profile to show your creativity. Helpful tweeters have already posted tutorials and Photoshop templates for working your avatar into your header photo so that they appear as one photo, like on Ryan Seacrest’s profile.
Harmony Major has also pointed out that unlike Facebook, Twitter hasn’t released any guidelines for header photos (yet…). This makes the header photo real estate even more valuable. You can add text, a URL (just remember it won’t be a clickable link), or a call to action to engage your followers even more.
If you haven’t upgraded to the new Twitter.com profile yet, here are instructions for uploading a header photo. If you do have a new header photo, comment below with a link to your Twitter profile so we can check it out!