Sunday, December 7, 2008

Twitter visuals: They matter

Now that everyone's a-Twitter, a quick look at the visuals. While part of Twitter's beauty is its simplicity of setup and use, visuals still matter.

A few points, many obvious, but important:

1. Twitter avatars are small. Most people looking at your Twitter avatar will see it about the same size as a mugshot in the current skinny Charlotte Observer: 44pixels wide, or 3.6 picas or so. If you're using your face, crop tight. Consider radical crops that only expose eyes, or other pieces of you.

2. Twitter avatars are displayed in groups. So the color and design, or lack thereof, need to be simple and clean to stand out to be remembered. My three favorites, from designers, are in the Twitter block at the top. Can you pick them out?

3. Twitter avatars and backgrounds convey your brand, your visual sense and the amount of time and care you put into your product. If you use a standard theme, you're demonstrating your lack of originality and commitment to your brand. If you don't want to take the time to do a quality background that will tile (or not) and look good (settings/design/backgroundimage), then consider not using a background image and only changing your design colors to be easy on the eyes. Consider color-blind people and others with accessibility issues. Consider recruiting a friend with visual issues to test the ease of your avatar and page.

4. Technical tip: At times, it appears Twitter doesn't like photos in .gif format. Try .jpg instead.

5. Fun matters: Laughter, whimsy and fun matter on Twitter. Putting on a Santa hat, no matter how cheesy, or changing your avatar to reflect a season in some other subtle way will help endear you to your community. But numerous changes will confuse your followers. If your avatar reflects a standing brand, take care in changing too frequently: A touch of seasonal color might be all you need.

6. Numerous websites exist that will customize avatars for you, and trends, fads and fashion come and go. Dress accordingly.

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