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How To Design Your Own Business Cards - The Basics

By Edited Oct 12, 2015 1 0

So you've started your own business and need some new business cards.  Congratulations!  

The business card is a staple of a successful operation, even in a digital world.  It remains one of the simplest, most concrete ways to transmit a powerful, professional presence, and no business should be without them.

You don't need to be a graphic design or copywriting expert to design your own business cards.  

There are many software programs and websites to help you create a professional, high-quality impression for your business.

Let's look at what you need for your business card, and some basic design tenets you'll want to incorporate into your design.

DIY type?

Business Card Studio can help

Business Card Studio [Download]
Amazon Price: $19.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 12, 2015)
Don't know where to begin? Use Business Card Studio to walk you through the process of designing, creating, and printing your own business cards!

What Information to Include On Your Business Cards

Most cards are used for introductions and as a way for people to remember who you are. Put too much information on it and you risk losing its intended function. Let's take a look at what you should include (the first two are the most important).

• Your name and the name of your company.
• Contact information (address, phone/fax numbers, e-mail and website).
• Putting a logo, artwork or even a photograph on your card is entirely optional and can make it stand out from the pack, but make sure it does not obscure your information in any way. They're plenty of sites that offer cheap stock illustrations or photos if you're not the best artist or photographer.
• Some people like to include a short description of what they do on the card as well. If you decide to do the same then keep it short; people wanting to know if you do specific jobs can always call.

Keep it simple.  Remember, less is more.

Check out the following video for a brilliant presentation on logos and the art behind them.

Layout of Your Card

This is basically a floor plan of where you want everything to go and what size you want everything to be. Take a piece of paper and draw three or four large rectangles on it. Now just experiment on where you want to put your stuff. If you have some other cards that you like you can mix and match to make yours look similar, jot down any notes about color, specialty looks, card size, etc. to the side. If you have access to the Internet you will be able to find hundreds of examples to get ideas from, but be careful as some of them are overly complicated. You should have a design in mind before moving ahead.

A good graphic designer will take your ideas and put them into a computer program where they can easily move around everything until you both come up with the look you want. Color is something that you need to work out with the graphic designer before going to the printer.

What colors are in your logo?  Are your business cards stock white paper?  Cards that have color going all the way to the edge will need special considerations (full bleed). Other things to keep in mind about color is if you use a color other than black & white you will pay more; if you decide to print something on the back of the card you will also pay more. One final thought on adding color to your card is that it is much cheaper to do today than it used to be. They will then save the file, which is what the printer will use to make your cards.

Stylist Business Card

If you decide to take your ideas to a printer first they may refer you to a graphic designer if they don't have one themselves. They will need that electronic file to proceed.

Production of Your Cards

Business cards are usually printed on a minimum of 100 lb stock, which is a fancy way of saying thick cardboard-like paper. The higher the number, the thicker and stiffer the paper. There can be other material used such as plastic or metal, but these will add to the cost. The standard size of a card here in the U.S. is 3.5 x 2 inches. You can have specialty sizes made, but most people are more likely to throw away or lose cards that won't fit in standard holders unless they are remarkable in some way. Save time & money and print your own using top-quality office products.

You will find that once the printer has your electronic file that many choices will be available to you depending on what the company offers; below are just a few choices.

• Thermography is a process that uses a special powder which will give a raised-ink effect when heated during the printing process.
• Glossy cards can be made by coating them with a UV or similar chemical solution. This will often add to the durability of the card.
• Embossed cards have a 3D look to them as a custom die is pushed into the paper from the back to create whatever look you had in mind.
• Foil stamped cards usually have a metallic or reflective quality to the text.
• Rounded corners.
• Die-cut cards often have unique shapes cut out of them and most do not fit the standard definition of a business card. It is a good idea to discuss this with your graphic designer before going to the printer and I would probably still keep the overall square size at 3.5 x 2 inches.
• Holographic 3D (lenticular printing) cards are starting to become more popular as you can reveal an image by changing the angle of the card.

Ninja Throwing Star

Other Tips & Tricks

• Unless the ink will go all the way to the edge allow a 1/4 inch margin around the entire card. Keep all information and art within this border.
• Contact the printer while you are still talking to your graphic designer and find out if there are any special considerations they require when setting up the electronic file.
• Full color cards where the color goes all the way to the edge look a lot better when glossy.
• To make your card a little more unique try putting something on it that most other don't - using black and white stock images instead of color, for instance.
• Be careful when using cheap online printing. There are some good ones out there and those that are not so good. You generally get what you pay for. If you decide to go with the cheapest option it is best to keep everything in simple black & white, but don't expect to get a knockout product.
• Being able to clearly read the information on your card is the most important factor and cannot be overlooked.

You can always design your own for free at vistaprint.com

DIY type?

Business Card Studio can help

Business Card Studio [Download]
Amazon Price: $19.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 12, 2015)
Don't know where to begin? Use Business Card Studio to walk you through the process of designing, creating, and printing your own business cards!


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