Imagine you wake up one morning to a phone call where somebody informs you that you have been given a small free billboard.
On this billboard you can put anything you like; showcase your latest artistic creation, throw up a link to your blog, make a bold statement, whatever your heart desires. Now, let’s step away from this hypothetical situation a little bit so that I can tell you that you have in fact been given your own personal billboard. In fact, we all have.
Your Facebook page cover photo is a small but powerful tool when it comes to promoting yourself, your services or your business. It’s the first thing seen by anybody who visits your Facebook page and you have the power to decide whether they just scroll past it or stop and have a proper look. Have a look at these creative examples to see how you can make the most out of your Facebook cover!
01. Showcase Your Skills
Try to think of your Facebook cover as your own personal billboard, a space you can advertise yourself and your creative skills in whatever way you like. Check out Sandra Dieckmann’s Facebook cover, where she rotates her latest and greatest artistic pieces to show the world her style and what she is capable of. Don’t be afraid to show off a little!
02. Mock It Up
If you are designing a cover for a public page that is supplying a service or product, you might want to look into digital mock ups. Check out this example by Printed.com that shows off their latest wedding collection with a sleek and simple mock-up of each printed element to give visitors a taste of what they can expect from the service.
03. Let It Flow
When it comes to designing your Facebook page, you have a choice of letting the profile picture and cover interact or stand alone. This example from The Creators Project lets the large image from the cover photo flow into the profile picture, creating one large (and pretty effective) design.
04. Develop A Palette
Surely we all know at this point how crucial colour palettes are to good design, and Facebook covers are definitely no exception. Using one feature colour in an otherwise minimal palette can help draw attention right where you want it. Check out the use of bright yellow in a near-monochromatic design in this Facebook cover by Boaston Society and how it helps draw the eye to one focal point.
05. Be Direct
If you know exactly what you want to say, sometimes it is best to just say it! George&Harrison do just this in their simple but direct Facebook cover that perfectly sums up what they are about and what you can expect to see when you scroll down.
06. Tools Of The Trade
Are you a creative-type with a page dedicated to your craft? Why not show off the tools of your trade? A simple photograph of your everyday utensils can give visitors to your page a more intimate knowledge of your process and method. Check out the clean and simple but very effective photograph of designer Daniel Patrick Simmons’ artistic tools, a nice glimpse into his setup and the process for his designs.
07. Get Sketchy
Many people think of design as sleek, sophisticated computer graphics, and a lot of it is, but most graphic design projects start out in some form on paper. So, if you are designing for a graphic-design based page, don’t feel limited to a cover created entirely on-screen. This Facebook cover by D&AD goes back to the roots of creativity and channels notepad doodling with this detailed and dynamic image.
08. Great Gradients
Gradients have once again taken off in the past couple of months and for good reason! A nicely assembled gradient can create a soft and simple effect that can pair nicely with your brand colour palette. Have a look at this vibrant, fun and sleek Facebook cover for Slingshot that uses a gradient to tie directly into the logo and app icon.
09. Show It Off
If you are designing a cover for a retail business, why not flaunt some of your products? This simple cover photo for NoteMaker, an online stationery shop, displays some of their key items of stock neatly and effectively by ordering them by colour on a clean white background to create a simple, but eye-catching design!
10. Set A Scene
This example by designer, EPar Studio instantly sets a scene for the viewer, with each individual element working together to set a tone for the page and brand. This is also a good example of indirectly tying your cover page into your profile picture, in this case, with blue paint. A fun and playful design that helps instantly introduce you to the designer.
11. Play With Symbols
Symbolism isn’t just for novels anymore! Symbols can help you communicate ideas, brand values and emotions without typing a single letter. Check out this cover image for The Good Twin that uses a bunch of nature-based symbols, from eyes, to lips to stars, trees, gems, feathers etc. to communicate that this brand values nature and the more organic side of life and design. Plus, it makes for a stylish cover design
12. Call To Action
A call to action is type that urges audiences to instantly respond to your advertised material, whether this is “Email us today” or “Buy now” etc. A simple and direct call to action on your Facebook cover photo can have a very useful effect for promoting your business or product. Have a look at this call to action used on Squarespace’s Facebook page that encourages users to immediately visit their website and start designing.
13. Photography, Meet Branding
Have you considered introducing your branding to your photography? The union of the two can create a really strong representation of your page, both visually (from the photography) and professionally (from the branding). Check out this example from Southbank Centre that brings the branding’s pattern, colours and logotype into to corner of the image, giving any viewer a strong idea of what this place looks like physically and professionally.
14. Quality Over Quantity
A lot of artists and creative-types on Facebook tend to throw all of their best work into a cover photo, creating a bit of a cluttered collage-like effect that the eye just tends to skim over. This can work in some cases, don’t discount collage just yet, but another method to consider is to just space it all out. Consider selecting only your finest works and showcasing these with plenty of room to spare. Natalie Foss has done just this in her cover photo, giving each piece room to breathe and enough scale to be properly seen.
15. Here’s The Team
Do you have a brilliant team behind the scenes? Why not shed a little lime light on them? Just as Robot Food has done here, a simple group photo can give viewers a more intimate look into your business and maybe put some faces to names.
16. Let Your Type Speak
Typography is a handy weapon to make use of, especially in the realm of cover photos. The design of the typography alone can speak volumes about your page’s tone and values. Have a look at the use of typography in this cover from Deus Ex Machina Motorcycles, a small business that specialises in authentic custom-built motorcycles, which is reflected in their use of rough, gritty, yet well-aligned and functional hand type.
17. Indirect Communication
While type can be indisputably handy for communication, consider the possibility for more indirect forms of telling the world whatever it is you want them to know. Take this cover by Branding Magazine for example that communicates the issue number and the featured designers/interviewees, all in one compact and effective design, no excess of type needed.
18. Complement The Brand
A strict colour scheme, minimal layout and a professional layout may work best for your Facebook page and your brand, but this is not always the case. Take Mt.MaskingTape for example, a brand with the tagline “Making Is Fun” has leant into a fun design with a collage of quirky patterns and colours that reinforce this brand value exactly and make for an eye-catching and engaging design.
19. Lay It Out
Are you designing a Facebook cover for a publication? Consider giving your audience a sneak peak and taste of what they can expect to see. Check out the way that Offscreen Magazine has included a few sample spreads from their current issue that gives viewers an idea of the content they can expect from the hardcopy. An insanely simple but effective use of the cover photo for a publication’s Facebook page.
20. Add Some Texture
A textured image or photograph can be amazingly useful and effective for your Facebook page, especially if you choose a texture that complements your page’s content. For example, have a look at artist Tanya Shatseva‘s Facebook cover photo that uses an image of mixed paint that complements her artwork nicely but is also engaging and pleasing to look at.
21. Be Different
One thing that will make your design stand out from the rest is often to be a little (or a lot) different. Let’s consider colleges and universities for example, we have a rough idea of how they market themselves on Facebook – fairly clean-cut, a little bit reserved, nice luscious campus photos, you know the drill. But have a look at the way that The Institute of Contemporary Art presents themselves, the vibrant use of abnormal colouring combined with the sharp and angular division of each image makes for a pretty dynamic and unexpected design, and one that definitely stands apart from the pack.
22. Big Type = Big Message
A bold statement deserves a bold typeface. Think about hierarchy when you develop type for your Facebook cover: lots of small type will act as body copy and will not be read as frequently as larger type. For instance, have a look at this example by People of Print. You read that tagline, didn’t you? You know exactly what they’re about as a company now – reviving print in this digital world. Message received loud and clear, thanks to large and very legible type.
23. Find The Right Balance
Literally. With the way Facebook’s interface is set up, your profile picture, page name and page description all float to the left, so to avoid having any element of your design cut off, try and balance the main of the content to the right. For example, check out this Facebook cover from Kaleidoscope Blog that places the main focus element (the photograph) to the right which allows the interface elements to balance out the cover image elements nicely.
24. A Face To The Name
If you’re designing for a public figure, it can be easy to splash their face all over the place – in the profile picture, over the cover, throughout the content etc. but try to resist this. While it is good to put a face to the name, be intentional about it. Though this page for MERC is not specifically for a public figure, this example shows a simple and effective way of putting a face on the business with just one simple image.
25. Colour Block
Have you ever worn something and had someone tell you that it brings out the colour in your eyes? Well here’s a way that you can bring out the colour in your design’s (metaphorical) eyes! A nice way to highlight a specific colour in your design is to break up the image with a block of colour. Have a look at this example from Aïshti that highlights the brand’s signature colour, orange, with a colour block that complements and brings out the orange used in the photograph.
26. Don’t Overcomplicate
Your Facebook cover doesn’t have to have a lot of bells and whistles to be effective, in fact sometimes less really is more. Have a look at this cover image by The Jealous Curator that only includes the logo type and tagline and really, what more is needed? By all means jazz up your cover image as much as you like, but also, don’t rule out a more toned-down design.
27. Play With Patterns
Don’t be afraid of pairing up some patterns in your cover design. In fact, the right patterns when put together can create a pretty effective result. Check out the clever use of patterns and photos in this cover by Makr.
28. Don’t (Always) Be A Square
Just because Facebook is pretty exclusively made up of horizontal and vertical lines, doesn’t mean you cover image has to be! Experiment with angles and diagonal lines by dividing your images into a diagonal grid, with diamond-shaped borders rather than simple squares, just as UNiDAYS has done in this example. Think a little outside the box (or the square).
29. Create A Mood
Does your work have a certain mood to it? Try to play on this mood with your Facebook cover design. A good example is this cover by Seaside Spirit that captures the calm and serene mood of his art, with softly coloured photos and a profile picture that flows into the cover image.
30. Sample Colours
A nice way to tie your photograph and design together is to create a palette based on your photo. Colours sampled directly from your photograph, just as Brit + Co has done here, can give your design a clean, clear and cohesive look. Deciding on a colour palette has never been so easy!
31. A Full Introduction
Your Facebook page can be the first time somebody encounters you, your work or your business, so you might like to consider properly introducing yourself. Have a look at this cover by Studio AIRPORT that includes a photo of the team, their name, brand marks and signatures, a small bio and their objectives, all in one nifty cover image that gives anyone who stumbles upon their page a full run-down of who they are.
32. Flaunt Your Brand
A Facebook cover can be used as a space to show off your brand and familiarize people with it. For example, The Cleaver Quarterly uses a brand signature for their profile picture, just the icon of the cleaver, but they have opted to splash their full brand mark across their cover image, giving it plenty of room to be noticed and remembered.
33. A Little Gallery
If you are keen on displaying a handful of your favourite images in the one cover image, then try to think of the layout like a gallery. When you walk into a gallery, the paintings aren’t jammed right next to each other with no room to spare, they’re spaced out, they are given room to breathe. Just as The Sea Life has done here, consider some margins in between your images to avoid a cluttered look and suffocating your works of art.
34. Colour Theory
Colour plays an integral part in your design, as I’m sure you know. I’m also sure you are aware of colour theory, the emotional and mental effect certain colours have on audiences. For example, have a look at Folk Wellness Co.’s cover, as a fitness company they’ve opted for yellow and blue, colours that promote optimism and security respectively, to create an uplifting and trustworthy design. For your design, consider looking a little further into colour theory and what it can help you bring to the table.
34. Overlay It
Check out this cover page by Christian Pannicke that overlays his signature colour, a neon turquoise, over samples of his work. This overlay effect acts as a binding element that groups all of the images together under the umbrella of his brand. Experiment with transparency effects over your images and see what kind of unique results you can stumble upon.
36. Shape Up
Geometric shapes are simple but very flexible graphic elements and they could be just what your design is missing! Check out this simple but attractive use of simple shapes used in AndyWestface’s cover, that not only creates a nice look for his page, but also reflects his geometric art style to a T.
37. White Out
There are lots of reasons to consider adding more white space to your designs, especially if you’re looking to create a more sophisticated design. Have a look at the use of white space in this photography-based cover photo by J.Crew. The lack of elements in the left of the image keeps from overcomplicating the design, lets the eye focus on the subject and makes for an all-round elegant page design.
38. Good Things In Small Packages
Type doesn’t always need to be huge and bold to get the message across. Check out this small and simple example from VSCO that places a small piece of type over an impressive scenery photograph to create a simple but strong visual.
39. Rough Vs. Smooth
Just as Kapke & Co. Events have done here, try to pair sharp and sleek shapes and fonts with rougher and more organic ones. The hand-drawn pattern over the simple colour blocks and the hand-type paired with the slab serif font creates a perfect blend of rough and smooth elements.
40. Write It Out
Have a thought you want to share? Why not write it out! There’s something just more authentic and personal about a hand-written piece of text, it is a simple way to put a unique spin on what you have to say. Check out the unique handwriting on display in this cover by Brain Pickings that gives the words an individual and engaging voice.
41. Hidden Type
Working your type into an image by allowing certain elements of the photo to overlap the letters can give your design an illusion of multiple layers and depth. Have a look at the way Free People has positioned their models in front of the type, sometimes blocking out entire letters but still letting the brand name shine though.
42. Set It Up
Photographs taken of table-top setups are a big trend in Facebook covers and for a good reason – they are insanely flexible! Depending on the type of objects you choose to display in your photo, you can create all kinds of moods and ideas. For example, check out this cover by Design Surplus that uses burnt matches, a hat, frayed material with distressed type, a pine cone etc. on a clay-coloured background to create a more rough-and-tumble look. Check out the next image for a completely different setup example!
43. Keep It Clean
Another table-top setup photograph, but this time a much cleaner and feminine scene. By using completely different objects (this example by BluChic has used makeup tools, confetti, flowers, sleeker type etc.) you can create a completely different scene to suit your brand and page.
44. Stamp Of Approval
There’s just something about a stamp that always seems so official, and this stamp on CMYF’s cover is no different. Stepping away from sharp, sleek graphics and instead adding some texture and roughness to your visual elements can give it that extra bit of authenticity and durability.
45. Create A Path
Something to consider about all of your designs, including your Facebook cover is the path somebody’s eye takes when looking over the design. Check out this sleek cover from Mohawk Felt & Wire for example. The trails of the black lines lead the eye around the image and the blocks of colour let the eye settle on various focal points.
46. A Different Side
A way to make your Facebook cover really memorable and effective is to show your brand or product from a different side. Take, for example, Free Typography, a site that posts the latest and greatest free typefaces for download has a Facebook cover of traditional metal printing press letters. A casual reminder of the origins of type makes for an interesting and effective cover page.
47. Show The Way
Are you a locally-operated business? Or do you just want to be sure people know where to find you? Maybe you should consider transforming your Facebook cover into a handy visual tool by including a map on it. Have a look at the map from World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 that has been done to perfectly match the branding of the page. Functional and appealing!
48. Make It 3D
Just as the cover for San Francisco Design Week demonstrates, a design with visual depth to it can be very effective. Experiment with shadows, highlights and perspective to give your design an almost tangible effect.
49. Flaunt Your Product
You’ve taken the time to carefully curate a Facebook page for your product, here’s your time to let it shine! Display your product with a nice photoshoot, just as Tattly (an online shop that specialises in temporary tattoos) does here. What Tattly manages to do here is show off their product in use while also promoting the brand mark. Two birds, one stone!
50. Monochrome Is The New Black
While colour can help inform and shape your design, don’t rule out good old fashioned black and white. A monochromatic design can give your design a certain sophisticated edge to it. Take, for example, this cover from The Selvedge Yard that includes a dynamic photo paired with dynamic type to make a very effective design, no flashy colours needed!
There are plenty of things to consider when you embark down the road of designing for your Facebook cover: What do I include and leave out? What do I want to say? How do I best represent my brand?
There is no specific rules or guides I can leave you with, other than ask yourself these questions and more. Only once you figure out what your brand is and what you want to communicate can you even begin your plan of attack for the design. Whether you decide to say what you mean literally with big, bold type, or if you choose to pick out a handful of your best works from your portfolio, whatever you do be intentional about it.
Remember: at the end of the day, design is about the visual communication of ideas, so be sure that you know exactly what your ideas are before you jump on in.