A Guide to Facebook’s Photo Cropping ‘Wild West’

At Changemakrs our users love sharing quotes to Facebook. We create an image with the quote and a photo of the person who said it. But I noticed Facebook will crop our photos so the quotes are either partially visible or completely hidden. I set out to understand the system behind their cropping so I could optimize my content.

I’ll give you the short story up front. After researching existing blog posts, doing my own research and talking with the Facebook Photos team, my conclusion is there are no hard and fast rules. It’s pretty inconsistent, and the photos team even admitted, “Sadly, cropping is a bit of the wild west at the moment.” Let’s saddle up and see why.

The Old Desktop Newsfeed

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Everything looks fine. Our square image is coming in at a perfect square, scaled down to around 50%.

The New Desktop Newsfeed 

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When sharing directly from our app, the image is scaled even smaller at 394 x 394 px, and is strangely isolated, showing with an awkward white border.

Uploading that same image directly from my desktop yielded different results. It was displayed almost edge-to-edge at 526 x 394 px and part of the quote text at the bottom of the image is cropped off.

To test again, I uploaded an “organic” image, aka an image without text that’s not a screen cap. Justin Lafferty at AllFacebook spoke with the Photo Team and found that they differentiate between normal photos and synthetic ones. Indeed, this photo displayed fully edge-to-edge at 552 x 414 px with cropping centered near the middle and metadata overlaid.

The New Desktop Timeline

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This one’s fun, too. My tests show Facebook either crops aligned to the top of the image, just above the middle, or the middle. It seems to choose the alignement at random. The size is 504 x 378 px.

iPad

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The iPad displays our shared photos consistently with the crop centered at the middle. However the Timeline and the Newsfeed have a slightly different ratio, illustrated above. The Timeline displays at 351 x 235 px and the Newsfeed displays 625 x 468 px.

iPhone

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Thank you iPhone! Fully edge-to-edge, no cropping or weirdness! The Newsfeed and Timeline display exactly the same at 309 x 309 px (618 x 618 px @2x).

Optimal Ratio

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The best size for a Facebook image is 552 x 414 pixels. Anything above this size at a ratio of 3x4 will do equally well.

Remember that the new Desktop Timeline puts metadata over the first 66 px of your image, and in lightbox mode there’s a black bar over the last 35 px.

Conclusion

I’ve designed a new share image at a 3x4 ratio to cut through this cropping weirdness. But I’m still not clear on the mechanism behind image cropping on the new Newsfeed or Timeline on desktop.

It’d be great if the Photos Team would release their own guide to this Wild West or standardize their practices. Designing content bound for Facebook should be easy and awesome, not mysterious and confusing.

After all, our users have uplifting content to share, and we want it to reach as many people as possible.

Brooks HassigDesigner, Cofounder of Changemakrs

Launching Kites and Features at MaiTai Utah

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If a TED Conference drank a pack of Red Bull and started doing extreme sports, it would only begin to resemble the awesomeness that is MaiTai.

Bringing together extraordinary entrepreneurs, innovators and athletes, MaiTai Global celebrates the shared experiences of collaboration and kite surfing. It was created by Bill Tai, a prolific Silicon Valley VC and sponsored kite surfer, and Susi Mai, a world champion kite surfer and the undisputed Queen of Kiting. They believe that if you have the drive to kite surf, you have the drive to make a successful company. The Changemakrs team was stoked to be invited by to Utah to join this fantastic family.

After driving 11 hours from San Francisco, we arrived early in Park City, Utah. We had something special planned for MaiTai, but we’d need some extra days to get all set up. After testing out our kites at Strawberry Reservoir – half of us for the first time – we decided to get down to work.

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Mountain Hackathon

Our plan was to set up a special collection of quotes just for MaiTai featuring all the interesting and inspiring things we’d hear there. Participants and fans alike can use the collection as an inspirational summary of the people and wisdom at MaiTai. So we sat down and built a brand new feature to make that happen. This was a feature we’d been wanting to build for a while, and it was great to be able to test drive it with in an environment like MaiTai. You can view the collection at changemakrs.com/maitai and get a sneak peak of some of the things you’ll be able to do in the coming weeks on Changemakrs.

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We also cranked out a limited series of vinyl stickers just for the event using quotes from or inspired by MaiTai-ers. It was so much fun to see them start popping up all over the place on people’s boards and trailers. One quote was from Ruben Lenten, world champion kite surfer, who was so stoked when we gave it to him.

"Ride hard and fly high" – Ruben Lenten

Feeling the Love

It was humbling and exciting to have the opportunity to present our product, complete with its new feature, to the entire group at the event’s closing dinner. As designer Brooks Hassig walked the audience through the new MaiTai collection, you could hear the audience applaud as they saw people they knew quoted on the big screen. This reminded us of the power quotes can have to delight, especially if they’re from someone you care about.

Finally, the team presented Bill Tai and Susi Mai with a little something we’d created to show our gratitude for bringing so many inspiring people together and for their support of Changemakrs. We designed and manufactured a custom frame featuring a photo of Bill, Susi and Richard Branson wearing our personalized t-shirts on Necker Island. The photo was mounted to appear floating behind the glass, and the back had etched typography welcoming them to the Changemakrs family - and thanking them for being an inspiration to us all.

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All Work & All Play

After a week in the mountains, working, kiting, relaxing and meeting amazing people, we were sad to go. From the photos we took, it might look like all we did was play. And from the features we shipped, sometimes it felt like all we did was work. But as Bill Tai says,

"To the truly engaged, work and play are one and the same." - Bill Tai

And that’s no better way to describe MaiTai than that.

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We’re excited about our new MaiTai Collection, all the new friends and opportunities, and the chance to do it all again next time. Until then, ride hard, and fly high!

Share a Quote a Day

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Hey Changemakrs,

We’ve created a way for you to give your favorite quotes to your friends everyday, automatically. 

You can go to your Settings and turn on Share a Quote a Day. Everyday, a new quote from your Changemakrs collection will appear on Facebook or Twitter for your friends to enjoy. 

Sound like fun? We think so! Visit your Changemakrs today and turn on Share a Quote a Day.

Share Your Holiday Quotes on Changemakrs

If you’re anything like us, you’re counting the days until Christmas. (Five days left!) The Holidays are an inspiring and exciting time. We go out of our way to give special gifts to the people we love. And it’s this kind of sharing that gave us an idea for our site!

We want you to add your favorite Christmas themed quotes to Changemakrs. You can share your Holiday spirit with friends, family, and the world.  

Here’s how to do it.

1. Sign in to Changemakrs and add quotes from your favorite Christmas characters & heroes. We’ll automatically add your Holiday quotes to the homepage.

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2. Go to the homepage and click on the Christmas Tree icon.

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3. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Holiday inspiration from the Changemakrs community.

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We love gifts that keep on giving. So put on your Santa hat and share your inspiration at Changemakrs.com.

Happy Holidays! 
– Brooks, Matthias & Sacha


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