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Lessons Learned From The New Twitter Layout

If you haven’t heard Twitter recently started rolling out a new layout to users. The first reaction many people have had is that the new look resembles Facebook… a lot. In fact, there are many sites who are posting that Twitter just copied Facebook’s layout. While there are some new features like the ability to pin a tweet, the web layouts are incredibly similar.

While the new web layout is important, it doesn’t seem to have affected the mobile app. According to TechCrunch 75% of Twitter users are on a mobile device. If you want to optimize your Twitter profile, you need to put mobile first.

Trying the New Twitter Layout

Ever the curious sort, I decided to take the new layout for a test drive myself.  In order to enable the new layout, you just need to visit the Twitter new profiles page, scroll to the bottom, and click the ‘Get Now’ button. At first glance, it seems impressive. You can add new cover images, and they appear to be fairly high resolution. In fact, after some digging and testing I found they do not use the same image compression that Facebook uses. This means your cover images will be a higher quality on Twitter than on Facebook.

Next I decided to create my own cover image. I would like to give credit to Guy Kawasaki for introducing me to Canva, and congratulate him on his new job as Chief Evangelist for Canva. If you haven’t used Canva, it’s a very easy to use web based tool that allows you to make professional looking infographics, cover images and more. I started playing around with their templates, and this is what I came up with as a first iteration:

Analytics Nerd Twitter Cover
My first attempt at a twitter cover
Testing the New Twitter Layout

I did a little tweaking and uploaded it to Twitter. Keep in mind Twitter recommends a 1500 x 500 image size for the cover. The first thing I noticed was that the web version is responsively designed, so the portions of the image that show varies based on the resolution of your monitor. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind if you have important elements near the edges of your image.

The real test came when I viewed my profile on my iPhone through the Twitter app. I was astounded (I know I shouldn’t have been) at how poorly the new image translated onto the app. Understanding that 75% of twitter users are on a mobile device, nailing the mobile experience is critical.

Testing the first Twitter cover image
Testing the first Twitter cover image
The Need to Revise Your Twitter Layout

After seeing how poorly the cover image translates to the mobile app, I decided I needed to make some large scale revisions. There were certain things I wanted to keep like the nerdy photo of me with glasses, the reference to “Analytics Nerd” and the location of my blog. Additionally I liked the idea of a speech bubble or thought bubble indicating that I tweet about marketing and analytics content. I also learned that I needed to better incorporate the position of the profile photo into the cover image on mobile. After tinkering with the positioning of text and other elements about 6 times, here’s what developed:

The final version of my cover image
The final version of my cover image
A Twitter Cover Template

Something that would have been very helpful to me as I was developing and designing the Twitter cover image, was understanding where the profile photo would be positioned as well as the relative dimensions and placement of the cover image in various screen resolutions. Based on my brief experience over the last days, here’s what I can share:

Twitter cover image template
Twitter cover image template
Lessons Learned
  1. Use a professional quality image on your Twitter profile – they don’t compress images like Facebook does, so quality matters.
  2. Optimize for the mobile experience – 75% of users are accessing from a mobile device.
  3. Test in a variety of environments – both desktop and mobile!
  4. Have fun and get creative – Using tool like Canva can really help in that department.


Have your own experiences to share? Add your thoughts to the comments section.


About Nathan Matuska

Nathan Matuska is Director of Product Development at the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and founder of Analytics Nerd. He has nearly 15 years of experience in Ecommerce Strategies, Data Analysis, and Digital Marketing. He has extensive experience in web analytics, previously working as the Manager of Client services for a web analytics start-up and has worked with other tools such as SiteCatalyst, Google Analytics and Webtrends.

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