February 10, 2014
If you’re no stranger to a business or personal Google Plus page then by now you’re probably well aware that the banner has changed it’s size yet again. By my count that’s three alone in 2013, and who knows how many more times it could change in the near future for Google to finally get it right.
Is Google testing to see what works best? Are they simply not happy with the amount of “live space” you can have, or is more than that? Could it be Google just really doesn't know what size is actually the best and most receptive to potential customers or friends?
Regardless of the reason, it can not only be annoying but potentially damaging to businesses as the banner won’t display properly and could have the ability to cut off or otherwise distort a marketing message or image that conveys the brand.
This is an agonizing problem for individuals and businesses alike, but consider if you, like myself are in a position where you manage multiple profiles for multiple clients across a wide variety of industries.
Taking the time to review each and every banner and then recreating them to fit the new specifications can be time consuming and also look bad on your part when and if the client notices the banner isn’t looking as it should on their profile.
What’s worse is the fact that Google doesn’t notify anyone that the change is coming nor do they tell you what the best possible specifications are to get the most out of the banner. Wouldn’t you think that Google, of all people who claim to want user experiences across the internet to be their best would willingly provide this information to everyone so that the banners could effectively be created and uploaded and look great on all monitor sizes and systems? The fact is, it doesn’t seem like they care too much as there are no Google updates, templates or supplied information out there for users to recreate the banners and properly upload them.
Through online research, other blogs and my own trial and error I have come to the conclusion that the best solution is to create the largest file in both pixel dimension and file size that Google will accept. The reasoning behind this is that if you use the smallest size accepted is that, while it will upload and appear it will only look clear and unpixelated on smaller monitors – such as 13” laptops and smaller devices like ipads and cellular devices. Google scales the image based on the monitor size the page is being viewed on. In retrospect a banner created at a minimum size viewed on a large monitor such as a 20” monitor or greater will expand and increase to fit and therefor render pixelated and distorted. The key is to aim for biggest common denominator and create.
I have determined that size to be approximately 2120 px by 1196 px. While this size is the best size in my determination there is also another aspect to consider which is that Google will scale the image as needed and that tends to happen from the right side. In other words text or imagery run close to the edge of that size can potentially be cut off and not visible. In my experience the best possible scenario is to keep text on both sides in approximately 40 pixels in from the edge so that it remains centered and does not risk getting cut off. It may inevitably be the best idea not to use any text at all and stick only to imagery, however this can still be cut into depending on placement and viewing monitor size.