Your Facebook cover photo

As you probably already know, Facebook will activate Timeline on all accounts – personal or page – on 30 March. Whether you’re ready to embrace this change (again) or grudgingly comply, it’s important to understand that your choice of cover photo and profile picture will be the anchors to get visitors to take positive notice.

As part of Timeline, Facebook has also put in some rules on what can be on the cover photo: no calls to action, no pricing or discount info, no “Like” or “Share” instructions, no contact information. Call it encroachment but It’s probably not new. These kinds of rules are likely to have been buried deep in the T&Cs of social networking sites long ago, which none of us cared to read.

So how should we work around the challenge of a cover photo that communicates the brand effectively? Truth is you don’t need a graphics genius on the payroll to accomplish this. Read on for a few key points to watch and some design basics to get started on maximising your Facebook page marketing space. Note that for best results, cover photo dimensions should be 851 X 315 pixels. Now, of course, those who have been around the block a few times are welcome to add your tips.

Basic Design in Basic Terms

Rule of Thirds. Imagine drawing down two vertical lines equally dividing your canvass to three parts, now do the same horizontally. This now leaves you with a small square at the center of your image. The four edges of the square where the lines meet are the best areas to position the subject of your image. These points are found to be the areas where eyes are naturally drawn to when viewing an image.

Simplification. Keep a tidy background for your subject, in this case, your logo. Your audience can best appreciate the main subject of your image when the background isn’t so busy.

Rule of Odds. People find images with an odd number of elements more appealing than those with even numbers. So, if you’re shooting flowers in a vase, it’s better to put three or five instead of two or four.

Rule of Space. To indicate movement in your image, like in the case of a runner, put white space or negative space (blank space) in front of the runner to show the length he still needs to conquer. Or if photographing a child laughing at something out of frame, viewers are left wondering what the child is laughing at and will be drawn into the heart of the image.

Basic Color Theory. You may have a vague memory of the Color Wheel from your kindergarten class but haven’t really thought about it since. Well, time to relearn color combinations. You can google a color wheel and bookmark it for future reference. The rule of thumb is all colors opposite each other in a color wheel are complementary. Meaning, they are best used together.

As for analogous colors—those that share the same shade like yellow, yellow-orange and yellow-green, which are located alongside each other in a color wheel—may also be used together. One color usually dominates while the two accentuate the predominant shade.

Rule of thumb in combining colors on any piece of artwork, be it a painting or a photograph, is to use a darker shade of one color and lighter shade of the other/s to create a visually appealing image.

So there. Some really elementary rules of design you can apply for your cover photo, or not. Just remember, you can only artistically break the rules if you know them. I personally like to photograph a runner with the white space behind him. How about you?

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