Our social media profile design series continues today. In case you missed it, here’s yesterday’s Facebook Page Cheat Sheet.

The seemingly ever-changing interface of Twitter has made it somewhat of a moving target for users. Not only does the interface itself get periodic facelifts, the dynamic-feed-over-static-background setup causes a different experience for users based on their screen size. All that aside, there are still come best practices to follow when setting up your Twitter profile that can help you navigate these issues and come out with a great looking home for all your tweets.

First, how do you find these things? It’s possible to edit certain profile elements from your homepage itself, but I prefer to go through the dropdown gear and access the Settings tab so you can do everything all in one place. Just click the gear symbol in the right, click settings, and look for “Profile” and “Design” in the navigation on the left.

Element: Background Image
Size: 1920 x 1080, 2MB Max
Best Practices: This is the part where you try to be all things to all people. Today’s standard laptops have a screen resolution or 1280 x 800, while bigger displays go much higher. A safe bet to make everyone happy is to create something that looks right at 1920 x 1080 (most users) and also doesn’t look weird for those smaller screens. Because screen sizes vary, the amount of space on either side of your Twitter feed will too. Some people like to gamble and create something that accommodates most people, but still looks funky or many others. They try to put text and graphics here, treating this area like bonus advertising space. This may work for some people, but it will look unprofessional and frustrate someone, somewhere.

Instead, think about your background image like your Facebook Cover Photo; a space to reinforce your brand with imagery. A great bet is to choose a pattern that reflects your brand, or even a solid color. You can then try alignment and tiling options to get it just right. Consider Kate Spade’s profile below:

Element: Profile Photo
Size: 500 x 500
Best Practices: Your profile picture will represent you in all conversations, and that means that it a) will be seen frequently and by everyone, and b) will be seen very tiny. So make sure that it identifies you (logo, recognizable image), and that it will reads well at 31 x 31 pixels. If your logo is graphic and recognizable enough, no need to squeeze your business name on there as well. It will show up beside your Twitter handle wherever it goes anyway.

Element: Header Image
Size: 1252 x 626, 5MB Max
Best Practices: Because the header image is layered between your background and your profile photo, there’s a high clutter potential here. Because of this it’s advisable to use a solid color or subtle pattern for either your background OR your header image. If you have an image or bold pattern at your background, pull out a single color for the header. Or vice versa. You could also repeat the pattern, as Kate Spade does above, at a slightly different size or brightness. The largest it will be seen is recommended dimension above, and Twitter will resize it to fit the circumstances.

Below is the current set up of my profile. Because I live in the DC area, I spend a lot of my time in Metro stations and therefore photograph them a lot. For that reason, my background is a neutral photo that says something about what I’m interested in. My profile picture is a photo of myself, and the header image that sits between the two is a dark grey taken from the background image. This sets the background apart from the profile without adding any extra visual elements.

Google+ design basics are up next, so stay tuned!

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Pagemodo. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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