This is a question that I get asked a lot. Unfortunately, finding the relevant details in Facebook’s help files is not quite so easy. Here’s what you need to know.
First things first
Facebook is continually evolving and changing. Options and layouts get overhauled from time to time, much to the chagrin and loud objections of members.
For those of us relying on Facebook presence for branding and marketing, it’s an aggravating issue; every time layouts are significantly altered, we need to reformat our graphics.
So be aware that what follows is the current Facebook image guidelines, but these could change at any time. But don’t worry – when they do, I’ll be sure to post an update for you.
The cover photo
The cover photo is a vital part of your Facebook profile. It’s the first thing your visitors will see, and you want it to make a good impression.
On computer screens, Facebook displays the cover at 851x315px, but on mobile devices it will be shrunk to 640x360px. Remember to actually test your images on a variety of phones and tablets, in landscape and portrait.
I recommend using a .png file for clearest results on the cover, particularly if the image incorporates text or your company logo. Just be aware of the file size – go too far over 100kb and you risk slowed loading times.
The Profile Picture
Size: at least 180x180px
You can use any uploaded photo for your profile picture and Facebook will crop and shape it to make it fit the little box. However, it’s a good idea to make it the right size to begin with. That way you have maximum control over how it loads and how it looks.
I’ve seen many users get confused that the profile picture displays at 150x150px, and yet Facebook won’t allow you to upload an image that small.
The minimum size for image uploads is 180x180px, but be aware that Facebook will pop up a warning about the small size. You can generally ignore this if the file is specifically for your profile picture.
I find good results can usually be obtained by uploading a 667x667px JPG with a resolution of 300dpi. Facebook seems to be able to scale this size without distortion or cropping.
Be aware that your profile picture is never displayed full size, so make sure your image can handle being shrunk without losing quality. When viewed on mobiles, it will be squished to a measly 50x50px. Generally, if it looks good on one device, it should be okay on others, but remember to test, test, test and make sure!
Margins & Overlaps
Ah, but you didn’t think everything would be that simple, did you?
Facebook’s help files neglect to mention certain details about overlaps. The profile photo is going to sit over the bottom-left corner of your cover. Factoring in the borders and shadow that Facebook adds, as well as a 15px left margin, you’re going to effectively lose 183x140px from the bottom-left of your cover photo.
And the overlap gets worse on mobile devices in portrait orientation – the profile picture will obscure about 1/8th of your cover photo.
Then there is the gradient that is added to the bottom of cover photos. The bottom 41px of your cover will fade into a dark grey, so bear that in mind if you’re trying anything fancy. Oh, and don’t forget that Facebook is going to stamp your page’s title across the bottom of that cover too!
Putting it all together
In days gone by, clever designers integrated their cover photo and profile picture to look like one big image. You don’t see those much any more; unfortunately, when viewed on a mobile device or tablet, these layouts don’t line up. And with the continued rise in mobile browsing, that’s an important consideration.
There are still opportunities for clever design and branding on your business’ Facebook page, though. The sky is the limit if you’re feeling creative. Just remember three key points:
- Upload specific images for your cover and profile pictures, don’t simply use existing photos in your account.
- Make sure the photos are the correct sizes, as described above.
- Keep important details out of the lower-left corner and bottom edge of your cover photo.
Have a go. Then follow me on Facebook, and leave a post if you want me to check out your awesome cover designs.