Don’t blend in with the default Twitter background and avatar. Consider the marketing potential, the opportunity to persuade, wow – or shock, if applicable. Some call it a background, others call it wallpaper, and certainly a wallpaper approach is possible, but I prefer to consider it your Twitter ad. Yet, another opportunity to distinguish your magazine or organization.

Here are details and a quickie how-to. (date: 2010)

Twitter ad tech specs:
• Your background ad should be 1600×1200 pixels and 72 dpi.
• Max. allowable is 700kb, but stick with 300 or 400 otherwise the loading speed is too slow.
• JPG or PNG file format.
• You can tile your background so that if the browser window is opened large, your image will repeat at the right.

Note these dimensions:
• Twitter’s toolbar across the top is 40 pixels tall.
• For the sake of design, consider that the Tweets column is 20 pixels from the left and 95 pixels from the top. Twitter’s fluid layout means that your browser window and screen resolution will affect the width of some of the columns, which changes how much of your background ad shows.
• The sidebar varies between 380 and 500 pixels wide. Note: This pane has a background color with an opacity of approx. 75%.
• After you complete your ad, login to your Twitter home. Select Settings -> Design-> Change background image. To tile or not to tile? Try experimenting with both. Then click Save changes.
• To set up other colors used in your profile (Text, Name, Link, Sidebar fill and Sidebar border) selct Change design colors.

About your Avatar

You don’t need your magazine’s name in your avatar as it always appears next to your @name, username, handle or whatever you prefer to call it. It just doesn’t look very smart to duplicate your name. A logo is a good idea, but if your logo is your name, consider just using the first letter or something that can uniquely represent your brand.

Avatar tech specs:
• Twitter » 48 x 48 pixels, 700 kb max
• Facebook » 50 x 50 pixels, 4 mb max
• LinkedIn » 80 x 80 pixels, 4 mb max

Here are some examples of Twitter backgrounds and avatars (circa 2010):

Wallpaper magazine – nice tiled background (maybe tiled isn’t so dreadful or too ’90s web design after all?).

Forbes magazine – maybe using blue in Twitter isn’t that effective given that the default environ is blue.

Granta magazine – kinda busy, but bold and compelling.
New York Times magazine – maybe words as a background compete too much with your words.

Food and Wine magazine – hmm, maybe I should send this post to them?

Inc. magazine (Editors: this is a great publication, well written and quite clever about their content schedule) – again, words behind words, not the best solution.

Proud of your magazine’s Twitter background and Avatar? Send us your username and we’ll add you to our list of people doing it well.