Facebook Timeline Cover Image Optimization Tips


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: 

1. Pick The Right Timeline 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:

2. Play By The Rules

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:

3. Integrate Your Profile and Cover Pictures

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:

3. Integrate Your Profile and Cover Pictures

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!