Twitter Just Cut Your Design Time In Half – Sort Of…

Twitter Just Cut Your Design Time In Half – Sort Of…
December 10, 2015 Dan Wunderlich

On Monday, Twitter announced a change that just may cut your design time (and mental energy expenditures) in half. Before Monday’s change, images attached to tweets would be cropped to a wide rectangular shape no matter the format of the original. This meant that if you wanted the full image visible without the need to click on it (and remember that extra steps will always cost you engagement), you had to design to those dimensions. For example, here is an image I created for a recent post:

After Monday’s change, images in the timeline will now be “uncropped.” This means that the larger image you likely already created or will be creating for your Instagram account will work as it will now be fully visible. Here is the Instagram image I created for the same post:

With this particular image set, it was not a huge challenge. I chose a stock photo that faded to white at the edges, making it easy to move around. However, I had to structure the words differently in each image to get a layout I was happy with. I wanted to emphasize the words “stressed” and “exhausted” to play off the image, and that worked for the square image but not the wide image. Knowing ahead of time that you will have to prepare two different formats, you may end up designing something that is less than ideal for one format in order to make it workable in another.

A caveat and some closing thoughts:

  • Most importantly, as Mashable points out, this change has yet to come to the official Twitter mobile app. Since lots of Twitter traffic is via mobile devices, you will have to decide if you want to change over to larger images now or wait for an as-of-now unannounced change. Some third-party apps like Tweetbot already display full images, but the official Twitter app is free and high ranking in the app stores.
  • While not ideal, the work-around for the mobile dilemma is what you may have already been doing if you weren’t creating Twitter-specific graphics: put the most eye-catching part of the photo in the middle.
  • Instagram actually freed up their image restrictions first, no longer requiring a square. So, you could have used your wide Twitter images on Instagram. However, they would take up less of the screen as people scroll by, meaning less of a chance to catch attention. All in all, more screen real estate is better.
  • As Buffer has shown in their own and collected outside research, images significantly increase engagement with your tweets. The freedom to use bigger and more varied images will allow you to be more creative.
  • I have not experimented to see just how crazy you can get with image sizes, but Mashable included a humorous reply to Twitter’s announcement featuring a tall/long photo of a cat (it’s the internet–what else would it be?).

Are you excited about the change? Will you be cutting your design time in half by using the same image on both Instagram and Twitter? Will you be waiting for the change to come to the app first? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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