Updated May 6, 2021
2020 saw the end of Twitch profile banners as we knew them. A massive UI update changed the game, throwing the old rules out the window. In an instant, millions of Twitch banners became nearly obsolete.
What does that mean for you? Well, if you’re a long-time streamer it’s probably time to update your old design. If you’re still a newbie, you’ll need to keep the new meta in mind when creating your first Twitch banner.
So, what did happen in the spring of 2020? Where do profile banners appear now? What’s the best design for the new Twitch layout?
You’ll get answers to all these questions and more — plus a handy PSD mockup so you can test your banner out before it goes live. Welcome to the ultimate design guide for Twitch profile banners.
Let’s start with a quick recap…
The profile banner, sometimes called a ‘cover image’, was once the King of Twitch profile graphics. It stayed pinned to the top of your channel — whether you were online or offline — much like a Twitter header image or a Facebook cover photo. As one of the first things a viewer saw, banners were a great introduction to your channel and your brand. On them, streamers often displayed their logos, social media handles and sometimes even stream schedules.
Then 2020 happened. A bombshell platform UI update banished the banner to faraway locations on your offline page and Twitch mobile. Where it does appear, it’s often obscured by new overlay components — making banners more of a glorified wallpaper than a statement-making piece.
All this means the profile banner now plays more of a background, supporting role on your channel. And as with most background graphics, simple patterns and colors tend to work best. Older, traditional banners with logos and text suddenly look very out of place in 2020-2021.
The NEW Twitch profile banner appears in five main locations:
For desktop users, this is the main place you’ll encounter Twitch profile banners. It only appears if a user visits your channel while you’re offline.
The bulk of the image is covered by three new UI elements: a square text block, a 16:9 video player and a small arrow button. Depending on your channel settings, these elements show either hosted streamers, previous broadcasts (VODs) or your channel trailer.
To the far right, the banner overhangs a thin vertical strip running alongside your profile. Note that your banner merges with this strip in its bottom-right corner! This makes for some unique design decisions, as we’ll see later.
The second most-common location to find Twitch profile banners is on the mobile app. Your banner will appear here — whether you’re online or offline — as a thin horizontal strip on top of your channel.
Unlike desktop, your mobile banner is free from pesky UI obstructions, aside from two small buttons on the far sides. That means a large, centered logo may still appear on mobile, even if it’s covered on desktop (we’ll explore that more later).
Your Twitch profile banner also appears in a number of lesser-known directories. On desktop for example, you’ll see it on your Following and Friends feeds. While these pages don’t get much user traffic, it’s still important to optimize your images, where possible.
In both instances banners appear darker in the background, so that your profile image and channel name are more visible. As users scroll over, three small UI buttons emerge in the corners.
Desktop users may also see your profile banner on their Subscriptions feed, if they are currently subscribed to your channel.
Your graphic appears as a banner over your subscription info. Since the banner is quite small, anything other than a large logo or picture will be hard to see or make out.
The last place to find Twitch profile banners is within chat. On desktop, you’ll see a user’s banner appear when you click on their name in chat.
Once again, your banner appears darker than normal and in the background — so that other users can read your channel history better. Much of the banner is covered by text and your profile image.
Now that you know the five locations where Twitch profile banners appear, let’s figure out how to optimize your design. Since two of these spots — the desktop offline page and mobile profile — receive far more viewer traffic, we’re going to focus primarily on them. We recommend you do the same, especially since only a tiny fraction of viewers will see the other three placements (user box, subscription feed, chat popup).
Here are the top five design questions, plus answers from our team of 50+ creatives:
Generally, no. In most cases, we recommend avoiding logos and text. These may have looked great back in 2019, but today they’re a distracting eyesore for desktop viewers (some 65% of all Twitch users).
Twitch clearly wants more interactive content on your offline page. That’s why they shifted focus away from your banner art and towards video content — like VODs and channel trailers — instead. The new video player takes center stage, with your profile banner taking a back seat.
In this environment, any logos or text in the background will just distract and confuse viewers. With so much already happening on your offline screen, it’s important not to overwhelm visitors with too many visuals. Otherwise your channel will come across as messy and unprofessional.
In fact, most users will be so occupied with your video player that any details in the background image are likely to be ignored or overlooked anyways!
Not to mention, most logos will just be blocked or partially-covered by the video player (and its UI elements). The same goes for social handles and large title text. There’s just not enough available space anymore to make these work effectively.
You don’t have to look far to find examples. Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of Twitch streamers still haven’t removed distracting elements from their banners. You’ll see tons of half-covered logos peeking out from behind video players. Channel names and social handles — now unreadable — partially hidden behind UI overlays.
Sure, you could technically try to squeeze a logo or text along the sides of your banner, to avoid the new UI. However — as mentioned before — this may end up distracting or overwhelming your viewers. It will also look REALLY strange on mobile, as we’ll soon see. More importantly, the amount of ‘free’ space here is deceptive, since it scales based on the size of a viewer’s monitor or screen. So while your logo may fit perfectly from your screen, it could be partially-obscured on another user’s ultrawide monitor.
That’s why — for the majority of streamers — we recommend playing it safe and removing these extra elements. Save your logo and social links for other areas of the offline page, like your Twitch profile picture, Twitch offline banner or panels.
So if you’re not going to include logos or text, how should you design your Twitch profile banner?
For starters, treat your profile banner more like a wallpaper image, and less like a traditional banner. And what sort of wallpapers do we use on our phones or desktops? Well, nothing too bright or distracting, as that could make it harder to see your icons or folders. Generally, we like to use simple graphics — nothing too chaotic or complex. But at the same time it has to feel one-of-a-kind and personal; a reflection of us and our style.
The same concept now applies to your Twitch profile banner on desktop. Use simple color schemes and patterns that are unique to your channel. If you have a brand color palette, there’s nothing wrong with using solid colors or basic gradients. If your existing stream design has a repeating pattern or texture, this is a great place to feature it. Most importantly, don’t overthink the design; it’s easier than you’d expect.
Assume that most of your graphic will be covered — especially the central area — and design around it. If you’re tempted to use brighter accent colors or design flourishes, focus them along the far sides or on the extreme top / bottom borders.
Avoid going overboard at all costs. Your design should accentuate the new video player — not compete with it for attention. Stop treating your Twitch profile banner like a statement piece; treat it instead like a subtle decoration.
This part gets a bit tricky. Remember that new column that runs along the right border of your desktop Twitch profile? Well it merges with your profile banner in the banner’s lower-right corner. That transition between the two can cause some ugly display issues if you don’t plan for it ahead of time.
[Editor’s Note: The color in the right-hand column is determined by your Profile Accent Color. You can customize this to match your unique brand colors within your Twitch profile settings.]
To prevent any issues here, you have two main solutions:
Of the two, the first option is probably the easier and quicker option. For simpler banner designs it’s an excellent solution — and one our team uses frequently!
Option #2 however, offers slightly better scaling on larger screens — plus new creative options. Using this method you could potentially bake in transparency elsewhere in your banner, creating a dynamic banner that (automatically) adapts as your profile accent color changes!
As we mentioned earlier, Twitch profile banners display very differently on mobile vs on desktop. On mobile profiles your full banner displays, with little to no interfering UI or overlays. This presents a unique design dilemma: how do you create a banner that’s optimized on both desktop and mobile?
You have two main solutions:
Chances are, your desktop-optimized banner will work great here too. By using just solid colors and simple patterns, you’ll have created a professional — albeit slightly minimalist — mobile banner. There’s no need to overthink your mobile design or reinvent the wheel.
For the majority of streamers, this is the option we recommend. After all, your mobile banner is scaled down on almost all devices. At such a small size, it would be difficult for your viewers to make out any details — even if you tried to squeeze them in. Create an effective desktop banner and it will likely double just fine as a mobile banner.
A second, more advanced, option requires some tinkering. Technically, you could add a large logo to the middle of your Twitch profile banner. This way, your logo is concealed behind the desktop video player, but appears in the center of your mobile banner. In theory it’s a great option; allowing you to show off your branding on mobile, without distracting desktop viewers.
In practice, it’s hard to get right. Remember, your banner will scale differently on various screen sizes. On your desktop, the logo may be perfectly hidden behind the video player. But on someone’s ultrawide monitor, it may be visible — awkwardly extending beyond the player. Because Twitch is inconsistent in how they scale your banner, it’s difficult to judge exactly how large your logo should be. That’s why we only recommend this option for streamers with lots of time on their hands and design know-how.
The last thing you’ll need is the correct dimensions for your profile banner. While we wrote an entire guide on the best banner size, here is a quick summary:
When preparing your canvas, use a width of 1200 pixels (px) and a height of 480px. Even though Twitch technically suggests a width of 900px, we’ve found those banners don’t scale well on larger screens. This can cause blurry pixelation or image distortion on televisions or ultrawide monitors. Best to design wider at 1200px so your banner always shows crystal-clear.
Make sure your file size is below 10MB. Anything over this size and Twitch will automatically compress your image, which can cause unwanted display issues. You can use either JPEG or PNG file format, although if you plan on baking transparency into your banner (as mentioned earlier) you’ll need to stick to PNGs. Animated Twitch banner GIFs are not currently supported.
Ok, so you’ve mastered the tips above and your design is nearly complete. Now what? Well it’s time to give your Twitch profile banner a test run!
To make things easier for you, we’ve created a mockup template for Photoshop which simulates a live Twitch environment. Just open it up and drop in your design! You’ll see how it displays in each of the five placements we discussed earlier, together with the surrounding platform UI.
That way you don’t have to keep uploading your test banners to Twitch (and risk your viewers spotting an unfinished monstrosity)!
If you don’t have Photoshop, you can get a 7-day free trial of Photoshop here.
Now you should be a master of Twitch profile banners. Once you’ve mastered the tips above, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition. Consider that the vast majority of streamers still haven’t updated their banners since the spring 2020 update… That means you’ve already got quite the head start.
The only thing left is to start creating. What can you dream up? If you need any help, drop into our Discord or tag us @VBI on Twitter!
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