14 Social Media Design Tips for 2014

By Emily Taing

In the ever-changing world of social media, visual elements are one of the most powerful ways to grab a viewer’s attention. According to Trend Reports, between 65 and 85 percent of people describe themselves as visual learners. SocialClinch compiled an infographic stating that Facebook photo posts get almost 40 percent more interactions than standard text posts.

Are you ready to start maximizing your social media design efforts? With these 14 social media design tips for 2014, you can create images that accomplish your goal and attract your audience.

1. DISTINGUISH PRINT VS. SOCIAL When posting on social media, don’t post what’s meant for print directly to your networks. It’s very likely that the printed piece is very copy-heavy and the resolution is too high for web. Instead, repurpose parts of the printed piece and only share the most important elements.

2. WRITE LESS COPY When creating visuals on social, the less detail- the better. Copy should be creative and short to grab the viewer’s attention. A link can be added for more information.

3. SEARCH TEMPLATES One important factor for Social is making sure everything is created at the correct size. There are a lot of dimensions to know, but fortunately you don’t have memorize them! There are many cheatsheets out there with sizing for each of the different platforms.

4. KNOW THE GUIDELINES Be sure you’re up-to-date on each network's image guidelines. Currently, for Facebook Ads, only 20% of an image can be occupied by copy.

5. DETERMINE HIERARCHY Visual hierarchy is extremely important in design. With content, your words and images need to be organized in a way that helps the viewer prioritize the message. The more important the message, the more contrast it should have.

6. PRIORITIZE TYPOGRAPHY Typography is a huge factor in visual design. With good typography, there is potential to go beyond just words- it elicits feelings and character about your brand. For headlines, make sure they are bold and easy to read. For body copy, maximize legibility by using the correct amount of leading and tracking. Lines should be large enough to read - the shorter the lines, the better.

7. SELECT GOOD IMAGERY Image selection is key. When choosing an image, put yourself in the shoes of the viewer: Is this something you would engage and/or share with your friends? Go with something that will evoke a reaction.

8. USE CREATIVE COMMONS When you are adding images and other content that you did not create to your social sites, it is important to make sure that you are not violating anyone's copyright. Use Creative Commons and Public Domain images to be safe - compfight.com, search.creativecommons.org, sxc.hu

9. DON'T FORGET ATTRIBUTION Images from creative commons are okay to use but make sure you attribute the image with the author. Don’t use images that you don’t own or that you don’t have permission to use. Just because the image is a result from a Google search doesn’t mean you can use it!

10. CONSIDER A LOGO When creating your own imagery, you have the option of branding your visuals. While some prefer to have their logo prominent on every piece of creative, others prefer to ditch the logo. It’s your choice, so consider both options based on the the audience.

11. USE EASIER TOOLS While Adobe Photoshop is the best tool for designers, it can be overwhelming if you aren’t a professional. Pixlr and Gimp are free photoshop-like free online tools you can use. There are also many mobile applications that can help with design/layout including: Pic Stich, Overgram, Studio.

12. USE CORRECT PRESETS The proper color mode for online images is RGB. RGB images display better on screens, as opposed to CMYK, which is meant for ink printing. Basically, monitors emit light and paper absorbs light. When creating an image, set your image to 72 dpi (dots per inch). This will help for faster load time, and is the standard as opposed to print’s 300 dpi requirement.

13. SAVE FOR WEB When saving files out of Photoshop, use Photoshop’s “Save for Web” feature to create smaller images that are perfect for web and mobile.

14. BE CREATIVE Social media is a hub of design inspiration. Be creative and think outside of the box.

Are there any other tips you have about designing for social networking sites? Share by commenting below.