If you have noticed, Google+ recently changed the size of the profile Cover Photo. It is probably the 3rd or 4th time they have tried to change the look of their profile by adjusting the cover photo size. Previously it was around 940×180 and now they have just made it taller. But is this one the perfect Cover Photo size that’ll appeal the users? Well, that we’ll see but for now let’s take a look at the story of Cover Photos and Google’s chase for implementing the perfect one.

Jabahar-Mohapatra---Google+

(New Cover Photo size introduced in Google+)

Few years back there was no such thing as a cover photo in major social networking sites used worldwide. It was the leading Social Network Facebook who first introduced it for their new timeline profile interface.  And say what, people liked it and used it; and the reason? Well, it’s probably because Facebook has just got it right, both in the size of the cover photo and the concept. Now after the popularity of cover photos in profiles, the guys at Google+ probably said, “hey, that’s cool! Let’s add something like that into our +profiles.” And below is the sketch of what they came up with.

Google+_cover_photo_old

(This was probably the 3rd trial to adjust the Cover Photo look & feel  in +profiles. )

But let’s see. Is this even a cover photo? Nope, it just looks like a photo strip. If you will try to add a photo of your or any other photo, the chances are that most part of the photo will cut out. Then what purpose of having this then? The guys at Google+ probably didn’t get the concept behind having a cover photo for the profile, it seems they just added it to have some visual eye candy in the profiles. Hey Google, are you trying to make Goggle+ another Orkut by trying to add eye candies like themes, beautiful photo strips etc? Those things might be good for teen users but not for professionals and grownups who are the major part of all Google+ users.

Let’s see how a cover photo is useful and how Google+ missed to understand this. Suppose you went to a vacation with a good friend of yours and you had a pic from it which was so good you would like to make it your profile picture and you did so. But then, profile pictures are kind of small, so much details of the pic are lost and even at some places their smaller size makes it hard to recognize the person in it. That is where Cover Photos come to the scene. You just make that pic you like your cover photo and every one can see it in your profile. So in a way cover photo served the purpose of being a better and bigger profile photo through which you can express your ideas or feelings. Also there are Cover Maker sites which provide nice cover photos and allow you to create your unique cover out of your photos by adding texts and overlays etc. The growth of such auxiliary cover photo sites was possible because of facebook’s consistency with the size of the cover maker and cumulatively due to availability of such cover photo sites, the popularity of facebook’s implementation of cover photo increased and other sites tried to adapt this concept. But the way Goggle implemented it in +profiles, it almost served no purpose. That photo strip was too short to comfortably hold even 4 lines of text and then much of its width was taken away by a big profile photo area leaving an unusable cover photo. So what Goggle+ missed about Cover Photos is that cover photos help users express their story or idea or brand in a visual form. Probably they have started to realize it now and so making these changes.

However, when it comes to expressing something visually, 4:3 aspect ratio is so 1990s. People are fonder of widescreen now, so that’s what Google should provide users instead of throwing a much taller version of the Cover Photo which has an aspect ratio of almost 4:3.  The thing is that at about 851×315, facebook has got just the right size, not too wide not too tall, but Goggle+ has been playing around with the sizes all wrong so far, either too wide too tall or too narrow too small. If you visit a Google+ profile of a user who has the new Cover Photo applied, what you get when you land on the profile is a large big photo with the small rounded profile pic and the name somewhere around the bottom. Hey Google, are all your users are professional Photographers who are only happy to showcase a Photo they like? Is a photo the only important part of a profile that you have made it so large, although unevenly? Is it a photo networking site like 500px.com? Come on guys you can come up with something better. Take a look the 2 screenshots below, one is the original version and the other is a tweaked one where I have changed the height to 400px. Although the width makes the aspect ratio of the photo a bit odd, but still just see and tell which one looks a bit better.

Vic-Gundotra---Google+_4

(The original +profile appearance to a visitor.)

Vic-Gundotra---Google+_5

(The tweaked look of the +profile with Cover Photo height reduced to 400px.)

Well, let’s hope +Vic and the guys at Google+   understand this and come up with a better design. Yeah, I am mocking the floating boxes with colored bars at the top. The previous interface was better than this one to display profile information. Anyway, if you feel the same way, you can help by sharing this article with your friends and people you know to spread the word.