Selecting a Decent LinkedIn Background Image

Three things a typical user should consider when selecting an image

jigsaw-smBackground image, header image, hero image. Similar to Facebook’s cover photo, LinkedIn widely launched this feature for personal profiles back in August. Unfortunately, I find the feature to be much less user-friendly than Facebook’s version. So, what are the key things a typical user should consider when selecting an image? Let’s discuss.

First off, LI offers a small gallery of free background images you can choose from. If you really don’t want to spend time thinking about dimensions, colors, and subconscious connections, this is probably the answer for you. Just be aware of the effect of many users featuring the exact same image.

Conversely, if you or a friend has the production skills, here are some considerations for creating your own custom image.

If you are somewhere between these two points, read on!

I was excited when this feature was released to the general LI membership. Since there weren’t a lot of examples available to peruse, I sourced a handful of potential images, cropped to size, and then began trying them out. Overall, the layout aspects (“coverage”) are significant considerations to finding a good fit. My results indicate that the ideal background image has these three characteristics:

  1. Acceptable content for a career profile

    I like to think this is self-explanatory– save your wedding photos for Facebook. If you want to go the extra personal branding mile consider whether the image subtly bolsters the information in your profile as opposed to simply doing no harm.

  2. A slightly abstract design

    The background image is not fixed in relation to your profile data. The profile will move responsively over the image in different screen resolutions, thus covering up differing amounts of your image. Be sure you understand what portions of the image are always viewable vs only sometimes viewable. Here’s a great article describing the issue, including visuals.

  3. Has nothing distracting on the left third

    This is where your profile image overlaps the background image. Having an elephant or even an awkwardly placed pole poised above your head risks having viewers focused on the hilarity of the visual rather than on your professional acumen.

I have one final consideration. This is both a more subtle issue and a harder one to address if you lack access to graphic production skills, but I’ll call it out as something to be aware of.

  • Has a “soft” bottom edge

    There is an abrupt stop between the bottom of the image and the light grey background that takes up the remainder of your profile. This break hits around the lower portion of your profile image. When I tested images with very dark bottom edges, I found the resulting break to be visually distracting. Using an image with lighter colors and/or a fade would make the transition less noticeable.

A closing note: always be sure that you are using sourced images legally. If it seems like too much trouble, whip out that camera and create your own fun. No one likes a thief.


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