How to Design Awesome Graphics For Social Media: The Must-Read Guide
Tools to use, recommended sizes for social media images, types of content, design tips, and more.
Tools to use, recommended sizes for social media images, types of content, design tips, and more.
Want to learn how to design awesome graphics for social media? Read on.
In the era of social media that keeps most of your prospects just a “Like” away from you, it would be a sin not to turn these digital hubs into gold mines. Having in mind that this opportunity is open to all brands these days, the challenge sounds a bit easier than it actually is. And graphics have a quite significant role in it.
“Why graphics?” is a subject we’ve discussed many, many times. People are visual creatures and process visual information times faster and more effectively than plain text. All social media platforms are based on visual content: whether graphics or videos or both. So without wasting any more time, let’s move on to the subject of this post: How to design awesome graphics for social media.
Awesome graphics for social media are not simply design compositions that look beautiful. They are design compositions that look beautiful, engage the audience, and support your content. So, what kind of graphics for social media you will be using and what kind of content will they support?
If all social media channels offered the same type of content, we wouldn’t need to be on all of them, right? As much as this statement is true, it’s also true that the same type of content can be suitable for different channels.
For example, you can post the same video on YouTube and on Facebook, and generate high engagement rates on both social media platforms. Or, you can publish the same beautiful photo to Instagram and Pinterest, and enjoy high engagement levels on both. Want to learn 20+ Secrets to Taking Amazing Photos For Blogs and Social Media?
The key is to know what kind of content sparks your audience’s interest. Observe your audience. What do they share? What do they comment on? Generally, people engage the most with posts that provoke emotions. In other words, these are the posts that:
You may be a skillful designer with years of experience behind your back or just an enthusiast with an eye for a good design. Regardless of the level of your professional skills, there are tools that can help you achieve your goals of creating awesome graphics for social media.
A free online tool especially developed to help non-professionals design beautiful social media graphics. From Facebook covers and quick daily quote images to longer Pinterest collages and more, Crello offers thousands of templates for the most famous social media platforms. Can be used with or without registration.
With free and paid plans, Canva is probably one of the most famous online tools for creating graphic designs quickly and easily. When it comes to creating graphics for social media, Canva has got you covered with templates for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Requires registration.
An online design tool for social media graphics that is absolutely free to use. Designed by Buffer, this tool is very handy for quick in-feed posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Doesn’t require registration.
The first choice of many with Photoshop and Illustrator being the two most popular software products professional designers use. Adobe provides tools for advanced image editing, design, creation of graphics, illustrations, and more, as well as a huge library of stock images. Paid plans only.
Professional creative software developed by Serif offering a rich arsenal of tools for creating vector graphic designs. Affinity Designer can also open and edit Adobe PSD, AI, and EPS files, so you can easily switch from Adobe products to Affinity designer. One-time purchase.
A famous vector graphics editor packed with advanced versatile tools and features for graphics, illustration, layout, tracing, photo editing, and more. The software is available as a one-time purchase or with a subscription plan.
Best practices for image resolutions – tailor your graphics to the sizes and preferences of the respective social media platform
While the recommended size for a Facebook profile image is 180 x 180 px, the image will be resized to 170 x 170 px when displayed on the profile. The same applies to a business page profile image. The size displayed on mobile phones is 128 x 128 px. The profile picture thumbnail is shrunk to the size of 32 x 32 px.
Until recently, Facebook displayed profile images as squares. Currently, the social media shows profile pictures as circles, so avoid putting essential info in the corners of the graphic composition.
The recommended size for a Facebook profile image is 820 x 312 px and it gets displayed in these dimensions. The minimum size of a Facebook cover photo is 400 x 150 px but it will be stretched to fit the 820 x 312 px frame (with a possible loss of quality). Cover photos will be displayed on mobile devices in 640 x 360 px.
Have in mind that the image file should be up to 100 Kb. You can use JPG but for best display quality it would be better to go with PNG.
While the recommended size and resolution for a Facebook shared image is 1200 x 630 px, it will appear on the feed at a maximum width of 470 px, and on a business page at a maximum width of 504 px. The recommended size for Facebook a shared link meta image is similar: 1200 x 628 px.
The recommended size for a Facebook event photo is 1920 x 1080 px. When shared in a news feed, the image shrinks to 470 × 174 px.
While is the optimum size for the Instagram profile picture is 110 x 110 px, the maximum dimensions allowed are 180 x 180 px. The 1:1 ratio is the norm.
The best size for your Instagram shared pictures is 1080px x 1080px px. However, Instagram allows images with 1:1 resolution up to 2048px x 2048px. Photo thumbnails appear in 161 x 161 px dimensions.
When displayed, Instagram scales shared images down to 600 px width, so the dimensions allowed are 600 x 400 px and 600 x 749 px, respectively.
Instagram will scale ad images down to 640 px width making the dimensions 640 x 640 px and 640 x 400 px, respectively.
The social media platform will also accept down to 200 x 200 px image resolution. The maximum file size allowed is 2 Mb. The accepted file formats are GIF, PNG, and JPG.
While the best size for Twitter header image is 1500 x 500 px, it is also acceptable to use 1024 x 280 px. The file formats accepted are PNG and JPG. The maximum size of the image file should be 10 Mb.
When clicked, the images expand to 1024 x 512 px, as well. The minimum dimensions accepted by the social media are 440 x 220 px. The displayed size in the feed is 506 x 253 px.
Twitter supports JPEG, GIF, and PNG image file formats. The acceptable maximum file size is 5 Mb for static images and 3 Mb for GIFs.
The profile picture on Pinterest appears as a circle, so make sure you centralize your logo and don’t put anything essential in the composition’s corners. The recommended dimensions are 180 x 180 px. However, it appears at 165 x 165 px and 35 x 35 as a thumbnail.
However, the minimum acceptable dimensions are 340 x 340 pixels.
The maximum length of a pin displayed in the feed corresponds to an aspect ratio of 1:2.1. The social network has determined 2:3 as the golden aspect ratio. The optimal width of pin images is 600 px. Landscape format images are acceptable but usually, they don’t perform as effectively as portrait format pins.
The thumbnails displayed on Pinterest boards are as follows: 222 x 150 px for the large main thumbnail and 55 x 55 for the small ones.
The video-based social media scales the profile images down to 98 x 98 px. The accepted file formats are JPG, GIF, PNG, and BMP.
YouTube accepts cover pictures of 2560 x 1440 px, fully displayed on desktops. The channel cover photos are displayed in 1,855 x 423 px on tablets and 1,546 x 423 px on mobile screens.
The videos you upload should also abide by this recommendation – 16:9 aspect ratio and a minimum of 1280 x 720 px.
An imperative quality of graphics for social media is to be clear enough for the viewer to read. And we don’t mean readable like “black on white” readable but readable in such a way that the modern Gen Y and Gen Z users scrolling fast down their feed will be able to grasp the message.
Since a big portion of social media content is consumed on small screens, make your main message big and concise. Take the time to write your copy as a clear and powerful message and build the design around it. To make sure you are actually putting the focus on your message, step back and squint your eyes when designing. You should still be able to read it and perceive it as the main element of your composition.
Note! Have in mind that if you are designing graphics for ads on Facebook and Instagram, you have to abide by their rule for 20% text or less in the composition. (The rule doesn’t apply for Instagram Stories.)
The typography itself also plays a major role when it comes to impact on the viewer. Different fonts evoke different emotions.
When choosing the right fonts for your design composition, think about your tone and wording. How would you like the viewer to perceive your message? Do you want it to be serious? More humorous? Romantic and dreamy, perhaps?
A combination of fonts is acceptable, as long as you keep the aesthetics of the design. A popular combination of fonts is mixing serif fonts with sans serif fonts.
The natural reading pattern of the typical user is from the top down and right to left. This means when you have a composition with more text, the user will more likely follow the F-pattern to scan it. They would start from the top left corner scanning the content across to the bottom right. Here is an example.
If you are using another reading pattern to arrange your text or if your text looks chaotic and scattered in the composition, use visual cues to help the viewer grasp the order of reading (numbering, arrows, lines, etc.).
Some design compositions allow you to spice up the wording and present it vertically. In order to make it easier to read, apply vertical orientation for short captions of up to three words. If you want to focus on a single word, you can split it into two or more parts while still keeping the readability high.
You know that the choice of colors is essential since different colors evoke different feelings. However, the science of color is much more complex and you will find out that:
Let’s examine two graphics for social media. Both compositions use blue as the main color in the design but feel completely different. Let’s see why.
BLUE vs BLUE
Color contrast is basically responsible for the legibility of the text and design elements in the composition. The more contrasting design elements are from each other, the better the readability of your composition.
There are some simple rules regarding color contrast in design. The pairs of colors which create the highest contrast are the ones located opposite from each other on the color wheel. They are also called complementary colors: red – green, yellow – purple, blue – orange and all other colors positioned opposite from each other.
When it comes to saturation, have in mind that the more saturated the color, the more attention it draws. This makes saturated nuances perfect for bringing the focus on a particular design element.
However, the use of too many saturated colors can make the design hard to perceive and the viewer dizzy. Harmonize the composition by combining saturated colors with pastel nuances and saturated colors with black and/or white.
A cool trick with color contrast is to use it to separate words from each other instead of using spacing.
When putting text over design elements, always keep a good contrast to maintain high readability.
Very often, graphics on social media are created to achieve particular brand goals: raise brand awareness, maintain a warm brand-client relationship, etc. In other words, the graphics you create for social media should probably evoke associations with a particular brand. This means that a significant part of your work will be finding the perfect spot for a logo, using brand colors, and creating consistency among posts.
Raffaello’s social media graphics are created in the same style and color palette by using the signature brand color combo – red and white.
When it comes to placing a logo, there is interesting research conducted by Journal of Marketing. They found out that regarding package design, users responded better to a high placement of logos for well-known brands and a low placement for those brand which weren’t familiar. According to the specialists, users unconsciously linked the concept of brand power with height. This concept can easily be translated into graphics for social media. Place logos high for well-established brands, and low – for less familiar brands and startups.
Viber placed their logo low when experimenting with a new color for their social media posts.
A confident high logo placement that goes perfectly with their signature purple color.
Strive for consistency among brand posts and the overall brand presence on social media channels. Use brand colors, design posts in the same style, or use the same layouts to create your social media graphics. Here is a great example by Tuborg.
The brand achieves consistency by using the same fonts, design elements, as well as their signature green brand color on all social media graphics they post. Looking good, right?
Designing awesome graphics for social media isn’t rocket science but it’s not exactly a piece of cake, either. Remember that a huge portion of your success on social media depends on testing different approaches and strategies. Our best advice is to keep creating different types of images for social media until you determine which ones your particular audience engages with the most.
Want to add your own tips on designing awesome graphics for social media? We’d be happy if you share them in the Comments below.
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