Has this ever happened to you? You need to update your company’s social media page design after a major rebrand. After you have someone plug in logos, key art images, and add headline text, you preview it on your computer and smart phone. ECCCCCCH! Talk about ugly.
Instead of a great-looking support for your brand, your social media page looks like a group painting class fail. And even after your designer plays with elements, things are looking bad. The cropping looks worse depending on the device you use to view the social media page. Plus there’s inconsistencies across the social media networks you use. Since not having a social media presence is not an option, it’s worth following some common-sense rules for social media page design. Specific requirements for each social media network change, but the principles in approaching your social media page design remain constant.
The elephant in the room: you don’t have complete control
Different looks come with every social media page design or home page (sometimes called a Profile Page). The image size requirements for Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others vary. Each is battling for a bigger share of market, so there’s little to no incentive for them to create a common set of specifications. As the fight for new features and revenue goes on, each social media network updates their user experience and profile or home page content independently.
The differences in presentation compound when art elements in social media page design shift in response to tablets and mobile devices. The situation isn’t completely unpredictable though. Avoid frustration by allowing some leeway in your expectations of consistency between social media networks and devices.
With changes that can happen at any time, the reality is that you will chase any new specifications for social media outlets. Creating social media page designs is not a set and forget deal, and it’s a good idea to be comfortable with making concessions with things like cropping, text and the way images overlay one another on your page. Just as it’s a best practice to add ongoing content and maintain social media feeds, it’s also important to keep up with any annual or semi-annual user experience changes each network may make.
Don’t look for perfection across the board. Instead, look for the most consistency in the most important outlets and devices within the sphere of control you do have.
How can you take on a social media page design?
You can tackle your social media page design 3 ways:
- Hack it yourself — Use image editing tools, and learn specifications to build elements to those specifications for each social media network. Then take a trial and error approach making adjustments.
- Hire someone on the cheap — I’ve seen some social media page design services that offer pricing “per item” starting at $100. But what you receive is their best and first guess at what will work best. Few guarantees, and little or no ‘do-overs’ and revisions.
- Pay more, get more with a deeper dive from a designer — Designers can be hired to package all the social media and device preferences you may have and perform a “deep dive” social media page design that includes testing on elements and content that are most important to you. You’ll pay more, but you should expect an approach that prioritizes elements as consistently as possible across the social media networks.
Each approach has it’s Pro’s and Con’s in terms of time, money and quality. It’s the classic value balance, which will vary based on your budget and timing needs.
Where to begin
Start with a clear plan for which social media networks are most important to you. Focus on networks your audience is most using, and that you’ll be able to maintain regularly. If you must, start with one or two, then grow later. It’s better to go deep in one social media network and establish a good foothold than to be spread too thin across many networks.
Next, create a list of core elements of your social media page design needs to have and set priorities for each. You’ll most commonly have a profile, background (or header) image, and either page name/organization name alone, or an additional headline and subhead.
Best uses of core visual elements
It helps to understand that each element has a specific role in your social media page design.
Profile image: This works best as your “evergreen” or unchanging Brand ID graphic or image. No matter what the size of device screen, the profile image is front and center. But it will not always appear large, so avoid the temptation to add text to it.
Banner, head or background image: This is a very good place to put your key message or current promotional visual. The profile image and the page name and headline covers the background in different places depending on the device screen.
What to watch out for on smaller device screens
You need to test your pages with the devices your audience uses most, and make adjustments if you see problems. The most common problems are:
- Shifting elements: It’s common for elements to shift from left to center from desktop to mobile screens, and between tablet and smartphone screens
- Poor image rendering: If image resolution isn’t right when uploaded, it may degrade in tablet and smartphone devices.
- Disappearing or reflowed text areas: Some text information that appears on a social media page design while seen on a computer may either not appear, shift in position, or be minimized in size on smaller device screens.
It’s common for elements to shift and resize in smaller device screens. To prepare for this, rank the elements for your social media page design.
Get the whole team on the same page
Pun intended. Seriously though — brief everyone who creates or adds content on your social media campaigns. Be sure they understand the core elements and priorities of the social media page design. Let them know not to change or replace key components. Like in so many other things, clarity of direction is king. If you are DIYing this yourself, just keep some notes to remind you why certain things are part of your social media page design. If you are working with a designer, include these directions in your creative brief. Or at least shared and reviewed and understood by the designer.
Social media page design for your business doesn’t have to be a pain. Just be sure you start with a plan, and stick to it.
How have you solved any recent social media page challenges? Please share in the comments below.
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