DIY great looking business cards - tips from Seattle business cards designer

If you are a business owner or a professional contractor, you might find yourself in a situation where you need business cards and no time or money in your budget to hire a graphic designer. If you do, it is possible that you will decide to design them yourself.
As a professional graphic designer I would not encourage you to do so, but as a thrifty business owner I totally get your desire to do as much as possible yourself and save some money. So as business owner to business owner I would like to help you make the best of it. If you fallow these 5 design principals you should end up with a good looking business card design in no time.

1) Decide what will be the most important piece of information on your business card. For a contractor, like myself, it is my name and what I do (example #1). For a business like Microsoft it might be a company name (like in #2). It is best to make sure your name and your company name/logo do not compete for attention. Add emphases by making your elements really deferent in size or color. Give each element space to breathe, do not crowd your logo.

2) Tag line. Can your business cards tell your customer what it is you do? A tag line like "Seattle Graphic design and Illustration" would be appropriate for my cards. But it would be even better, if you can say it in a question. Something like this: "Does your business make a positive first impression?", or "Does your grout need to be cleaned?"

A question is more engaging, it makes a customer take a moment and think instead of just glazing over your business card. "Does my grout need to be cleaned? I think it does! I better call this guy."

3) Make sure your contact information is legible and easy to find. Don't make the type too small, don't use the fonts that are too hard to read, most people will not take the time to figure it out. Most likely they will toss your business card away. And there goes your chance to make a positive first impression and all that money you spend on printing will be a waste.

4) Keep it simple, stick with one type face. Sure it is fun to throw in a bunch of crazy fonts, but without years of practice it is hard to make sure they really go together. What looks good to you might look unprofessional to your customer. And if you have to add a little flair, stay within one type family. So Arial Regular and Arial Italic will work nicely together.

5) Above all, if you are doing it yourself, don't skimp on printing. A good quality print job will elevate your business card design to a whole new level. Pick good paper and add a color if you can. To give you an idea, a set of cards like mine: 2 sided, full color on nice heavy cardstock, with a spot UV (that's the glossy slightly raised circles) should cost around $65 for 250 or $80 for 500 and 1000 would be $105. Keep the color simple, try working with limited number of colors for bold visual effect.

Hope this tips from Seattle business card designer will help you as you tackle another challenge of owning a business. But, if all else fails, please, do not hesitate to send me your designs and ask for my opinion. I would be more than happy to give you feedback and suggestions on how to make it as good as possible free of charge.

(Keep in mind that all of the "fail" examples are much exaggerated. These same technics applied knowingly can do wonders. Poorly designed business cards and other marketing materials will cost you much more in the long run than it costs to hire a professional Seattle graphic designer to do the job right in the first place.)

Written by Annya A. Uslontseva, Seattle Graphic Designer