HOW TO: Create Custom Twitter BackgroundsBy Jackie Tulos
Since the early days of Twitter, users have had the ability to upload their own background images. From photos of cute kittens to jaw-dropping mosaics, the Twitter background has been a key medium for self-expression, personal branding, and personal fulfillment.
If you’re new to Twitter, or just never took the time to create your own Twitter background, this HOW TO guide is for you. This guide goes step-by-step into the rationale for creating a personalized Twitter background, takes a look at some amazing Twitter designers, and provides a list of useful Twitter design tools and resources. Your artistic juices shall soon be flowing.
Why create a custom Twitter background?
Some of you might ask: is creating a custom Twitter background worth the effort? While this is a valid question, and the final answer is up to you, there are a range of benefits to making your backdrop your own. Both the creative and the brand-conscious can (and have) benefited from unique background designs.
Here are a couple reasons for why you might want to build your own:
1. Personalization and expression: It’s a chance to express yourself and who you are. Are you an artist, a musician, a blogger, or a cook? Do you love Macs or the beach? A new backdrop can really help people understand who you are.
2. Contact info: It’s an easy way to add additional information you can plug into your 160 character bio.
3. Personal branding: Having your contact information, your face, or additional bio information within your background is a common practice. It helps potential followers understand what you do and why you are someone people should follow. Check out HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on Twitter for more.
4. Artistic creativity: Twitter is a great opportunity to push the limits of your talents.
Some great examples of custom Twitter background designs
If you’re looking for some inspiration for your Twitter background, look no further. These are some of the most unique, most inspiring, and best-branded Twitter backgrounds around. There’s not enough time or room to showcase the thousands of great backgrounds that exist on Twitter, so be sure to check out some comprehensive lists and discover some on your own.
And remember: you don’t have to spend an obscene amount of time to make a great background. It’s all about making a background that’s perfect for you, not for anyone else.
Doug Cone (@nullvariable): Doug, a web designer and consultant, brilliantly integrates his face with his brand and contact information in this spacey theme.
CoolTweets (@cooltweets): CookTweets, which collects, well, the coolest tweets on the web, gets an A for its simple and clean layout. Perfect for many brands.
Justine Ezeraik (@ijustine): The popular new media star has a balanced theme that perfectly reflects her brand.
Kristi Colvin (@kriscolvin): Kristi, a favorite tweeter of mine, opted to create a beautiful mosaic of color and life. I could stare at it all day.
Loic Le Meur (@loic): No, it’s not that Loic’s background is the most amazing, most complex, or most visually appealing image in the world. It’s that his background reflects who he is – a smiling, personal, fun-loving guy…who also happened to found Seesmic. You just have to love the picture of him kitesurfing, too.
There are literally hundreds of great Twitter backgrounds. Part of the fun is discovering on your own.
Creating your own background: the basic requirements
Now that you understand the reasons for creating a background and you’re feeling inspired, there are a couple of things you need to know about custom Twitter backgrounds.
First, you need to know how to actually change your background. This is a simple process: just go to settings, then design, and then click “change background image.” You can now browse your computer and add any image you’d like, so long as it’s under 800k in size.
Next, the actual dimensions. This is important because improperly-sized images can be covered up by your Twitter profile or can start to tile, which often leads to an undesired effect. In most circumstances, you want your background to be large enough not to tile. To achieve this, the total image size should be around 1600px wide by 1200px tall. This encompasses almost all screen resolutions.
If you build a left-hand column, popular on many Twitter backgrounds, make sure that it’s small enough not to be covered up by the central Twitter content – many designers suggest smaller than 200px or 235px. For more information on dimensions, check out Croncast and their numbers.
In the end, building your ideal background often requires trial-and-error. But if you’re not a designer, that’s not a problem – there are tools to help.
7 helpful Twitter background resources
What would a Twitter resource guide be without some useful Twitter apps? Not only do many of these tools provide pre-designed backgrounds, but many can also automatically update your background, provide detailed information and FAQs, and even fully-functional image editors. Here are a few of the best:
1. MyTweetSpace: MyTweetSpace is one of the simplest ways to create a Twitter background with minimal effort. It allows users to create badges, add graphics, play with text, and more to create elegant backgrounds and left-hand text columns. You can even log in with Twitter and MyTweetSpace will automatically update your background.
2. TwitterBacks: This website provides a set of templates perfect for creating your ideal Twitter background. The templates come in PSD (Photoshop) form. In fact, my Twitter account utilizes a TwitterBack template as the basis for my design. Can you guess which one?
3. TweetStyle: TweetStyle offers free background templates, custom Twitter backgrounds, and a few useful blog posts on the subject of the backdrop.
4. Free Twitter Designer: This handle little app provides an easy-to-use image editor to help you create a professional-looking theme.
5. TwitBacks: This is another tool for creating backgrounds. This one specializes in left-hand column-based backgrounds.
6. TwitterGallery: TwitterGallery is a directory of themes based on color and category. You can even click the “install” button under any theme, log into Twitter, and poof!…your background is ready.
7. Peekr: If you stumble across a great Twitter background and want to take a quick look at it in its pure form, the Peekr bookmarklet is the way to go. Click on the bookmarklet once to show only the background, and press it again to bring everything back to normal.
Start customizing and share your background
With this knowledge and these tools at your disposal, there is no reason you can’t build a killer backdrop for your Twitter account within minutes. So what are you waiting for? Try out some different designs, and be sure to share your artistic flair with the rest of us by linking to your newly-designed Twitter account in the comments.
See you on Twitter.