Facebook Timeline Cover Image Optimization Tips

Facebook Timeline Cover Image Optimization Tips

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With Timeline pages, viewers spend more time looking at the cover image than they do looking at content.

Facebook Timeline presents a number of new challenges and opportunities for online store owners. Not only are profiles reconfigured in layout and appearance, but the manner in which information is revealed to viewers has changed as well. One of the most noticeable differences to Facebook is its focus on visuals. To capitalize on this overhaul, here are three things every ecommerce store owner should keep in mind: 

1. Pick The Right Timeline Cover Image

The banner image that greets people is called a "cover image" or "cover photo" and is particularly important. It's larger than anything else on your page, and it's the first thing people will notice. In fact, a recent eye-tracking study conducted by EyeTrackShop, found participants spent less time looking at Wall posts and ads and more time looking at the cover photo. "The new Facebook Timeline limits the effective branding space, and the top portion of the page must be effectively utilized," suggests the study's authors. 
The study also found that in every case viewers looked at either the left, or the right column of content last - after your logo, navigation buttons, and ads. 
The cover image is the most prominent visual element on your Facebook  page, so you should invest an appropriate amount of time and resources into making it awesome. Check out what Shopify store Nyåks has done with their cover image: 


Nyåks didn't just repurpose an image from their website; they used a professional photographer to take a picture specifically for their cover image, and the result is gorgeous. The picture reflects their brand perfectly - it's bright and colorful, clean, modern, and they have their company logo strategically placed. 

2. Play By The Rules

Facebook has a whole bunch of restrictions on what you can and cannot display on your cover image and profile picture. The following is a list of elements that breach Facebook's guidelines and can get your account suspended:

  • Pricing or purchase information: Your image can’t say “40% off” or “Download it at our website.”
  • Contact information: You’re not allowed to display your email, telephone number, URL, or any other contact information. 
  • References to User Interface: You can't display anything that references “Like” or “Share” or any other Facebook site features. 
  • Calls to Action: You can’t write “buy now” or “try our free trial” or anything that directly tells people to do something.
  • Other: Cover images may not be false, deceptive, or misleading.

Just because you can't display blatant calls to action or advertising material, doesn't mean you can't instantly tell a visitor what you you're all about. Take a look at what Shopify store Factory 43 has done with their cover image:


Factory 43 is a Seattle based manufacturer of quality graphic goods. Can you guess what they sell just by looking at their cover image? You got it - posters, letterpress, and shirts. They quickly convey what their online store is all about without breaking any of the rules. 

3. Integrate Your Profile and Cover Pictures

You've probably seen some of the super creative Facebook Timeline pages that integrate both their profile picture and their cover picture. One of my favorites is by Jerome Vadon, who obviously took a lot of time and effort to conceive the idea and get everything to line up properly. If you plan on integrating both your profile and cover pictures, it's important you get your resolution and sizing spot on. I've found that your profile picture should be 120 x 120 pixels, and your cover image should be 851 x 315. 

If you plan on using photographs, it's important you get the lighting the same in both pictures. Also, since most cameras don't take pictures that will fit properly, you can use Aviary's free cropping tool designed specifically for Facebook Timeline cover images. 

Check out what Shopify store Bubble Soap Factory did with their Facebook Timeline page:

Bubble Soap Factory took the main picture used in their online store and did some fancy cropping work, then put their logo on their profile picture. The result is a brand page that perfectly reflects their company's look and feel in a professional way. Also, take a look at our Timeline page - we've subtlety integrated both our profile and cover images:

When we were coming up with ideas for our cover image we knew we wanted to display a bunch of our merchants products, but we also needed to incorporate our company logo so visitors knew that it was our page quickly. This is the design we ended up with - it clearly shows our Shopify logo while also showing various products sold by Shopify stores. 

To see what other Shopify stores have done with their Facebook Timeline pictures - take a look here

If you have any design tips for Facebook Timeline, let us know in the comments!

15 comments

  • Josh
    Josh
    May 09 2012, 03:52PM

    To add to the size of the cover (851 × 315), make sure when setting up the doc, resolution is set to 300, not 72. Made that mistake once!

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 09 2012, 04:21PM

    Josh: Thanks for adding that! You’re right, resolution is really important.

  • Karl Gilmore
    Karl Gilmore
    May 09 2012, 10:00PM

    Why 300? Isn’t that a print resolution?

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    May 10 2012, 09:16PM

    Useful tips, Mark. I’ve been meaning to get a good Cover Image setup with the new FB layout, and these are great tips to consider.

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    May 11 2012, 04:55PM

    Karl: It doesn’t necessarily have to be 300 – just make sure it’s high res.

    Andrew: Thanks so much, glad you liked it! Shoot me the link to your FB once you have your cover image up, I’d love to see it.

  • Henry
    Henry
    May 18 2012, 10:54AM

    I don’t understand the suggestion to use a high res image. 851 pixels is 851 pixels regardless of whether the resolution is 72 or 300. The only thing that would be affected is the physical size were you to print it out.

  • Moving Pixel Media
    Moving Pixel Media
    October 27 2012, 02:40AM

    To get the best result for cover images is to set the image size to 851×315 and 72DPI. The most important thing is when you’re exporting to limit the file size to 100kb. (Use “save for web” in photoshop) Any size higher than that, Facebook compresses it heavily. If you keep the image it under 100kb, Facebook will not compress your image.

    Jacob Morales | Moving Pixel Media

  • Zooney
    Zooney
    December 26 2012, 10:09PM

    To get more cover photos for your profile visit http://www.freetimelinecovers.org/ i found it of my choice ..hope you will need it too..

  • Shelia
    Shelia
    March 16 2013, 09:01PM

    I can’t seem to change my pic on my timeline the little camera in the right hand corner is not showing. Please help

  • Shelia
    Shelia
    March 16 2013, 09:01PM

    I can’t seem to change my pic on my timeline the little camera in the right hand corner is not showing. Please help

  • harry
    harry
    March 20 2013, 02:22AM

    This is very useful info about facebook timeline image. i really dont knew that.I will also implement i my fb page – www.hot9offers.com
    Thanks alot for the useful info. :)

  • suhana
    suhana
    April 09 2013, 07:41AM

    HI
    Today i came across this amazing new website named nupinch.com…i really think you guys should check it out..
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  • Simone
    Simone
    June 19 2013, 10:39PM

    I got the best result by exporting my file at exact size, 300 dpi, as a .png file.

  • Sarge
    Sarge
    October 03 2014, 12:24AM

    This is called big bang short fuse as new technology take over the tradition way of doing business. There many disruptive models the classic example is live music was replaced by large disc then castes then CD then DVD and now MP3 players and cloud. similarly to Commerce which is replaced by eCommerce sites such as Amazon, ebay and shopfy. However there are other new sites that are gaining momentom including EcommerceLocal.com ecommercelocal.com.au and ecommerceLocal.co.uk

    I personally believe that although there are taxes applied to eCommerce website it will not effect the behavior of people from buying from eCommerce sites.

  • DJZMAN
    DJZMAN
    November 06 2014, 05:05AM

    Ok i make my timeline photo and do the sizes you all suggest. that part works. But when i upload the photo around the words it becomes all fuzzy. How do i stop it from doing that. when i load the image on my desktop and look at it its not fuzzy, but when i upload it to facebook timeline top photo its all fuzzy around the words. I use Paint Shop to make my photos.

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