Web design and images sizes for social media

In a previous job, I helped design print materials from annual fund solicitations to commencement materials and even have a behance (portfolio) account. At this point though, two years after my last graphic design course (in addition to work at Newhouse), specifically on using the latest features InDesign CS6, I haven’t done a lot of page layout or vector file editing.

While memories of designing for print fade, that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept up with important web design trends. From a quick look at something crucial to the work of social media managers- having up-to-date and correctly sized images – there is a lot to keep in mind. Thankfully, Sprout Social has an aptly named guide, the “Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes“. As long as I’ve been using it, it has been updated soon after changes by the major platforms.

In addition to knowing (or, more accurately, being able to quickly reference and put into action information about) sizes, there are a number of quick and easy-to-use image creation tools (if you don’t know how, don’t have access to, or simply don’t want to use InDesign).

One of the most important changes when it comes to what “non-designers” like me need to know about design and image sizes for the web has to do with code. Last year I noted how important it is for publishers to include metadata (especially posts your share) that makes posts more engaging by default on social media. Since then, Facebook has made it easier to customize even more about the appearance of shared links. I would say that makes it even more important to have engaging photos embedded in the open graph, twitter card, and other structured data on your posts.

Unfortunately, some Content Management Systems that haven’t adapted do not allow for this important change. This can lead to organic social shares to look dull by default. If you aren’t in this line of work, it may be hard to tell the difference between, say, this post on


and this one https://twitter.com/friendscentral/status/661985914017697793

fcs importance of twitter cardsHowever, if you use Twitter professionally, you’ll know that last year, Twitter cards started auto-expanding by default. Which means our card had a photo and description, while Gould’s is plain text. If you were scrolling through your feed, which would stand out to you?

In addition to making sure you have featured images that are the right sizes for different platforms (and have the settings correct or make the code changes manually on platforms that don’t have have cards Open Graph data on by default, you can increase reach with Twitter Website Cards (which yes, are different than Twitter Cards. My former coworker at UVA did a helpful experiment to show the kind of result the University of Virginia had when investing the extra time to make them.

All of the above is mostly to say that in addition to having engaging photos, the role of a social media/web manager is expanding more to edit code to make posts more appealing especially when shared by others. I hope that helps.