5 Characteristics of an Effective Business Card


In today’s business world, almost everyone has their own business card, be it something provided to them by their employer, or a simple card to promote their freelance or contract business. With business cards being such a staple in terms of promoting yourself and your business to others, it’s important that you get the most bang for your buck when designing your business card. Printing isn’t cheap, so the more customers you can get through your business cards the better. Not all business cards are created equal though, so here are five things to keep in mind when making your business card.

  1. Only Include What’s Important

While it may be tempting to drop the font size down to 8pt font and squeeze in your life story, take a step back and remember what your goal is when it comes to business cards. You want something that will give people the more important information at a quick glance, and something small enough they can carry with them for reference or carry multiples of to share with friends and family to get you referrals. At minimum, you’ll want your name, your business, a general idea of the services you offer if the business name doesn’t make it clear, your contact information and link to your website and/or portfolio. Anything more than that, and the card starts to get cluttered. Remember, you’re working with something that’s only about 2″x4″ if that, so you’re working with limited real estate to begin with. The last thing you want to do is make it so cluttered that potential customers can’t even find how to contact you at a glance. Long story short, our brains are lazy, cater to that.

  1. Make Sure It’s Legible

Great, you’ve got the essentials on there, but can people actually read it? As sleek as a white on black design might seem, or black on grey, some color combinations can cause the text to either get lost in the background, or are just so offensive to the eyes that it becomes an eyesore just trying to read the small text. Also, while it might be tempting to use funky and wild fonts like Jokerman or Old English Text, it can be very difficult to read, and the last thing people want to do is struggle just to read your email or phone number. Also, unless you’re a comic book artist, don’t use Comic Sans. It’s practically a cardinal sin among the design community, and could result in people taking you less seriously. If you want to be creative with your card designs, use your logo as your central design element and leave the text out of it. Pick a standard typeface that fits your business, but is legible and widely accepted. The most creative I’d recommend getting with non-logo based text is something in the Franklin Gothic family. Go anything beyond that in terms of stylistic fonts and you’ve gone too far. Also, while they may look elegant and don’t seem too bad at first glance, avoid script and handwritten style fonts for your contact information. They can be difficult to read when printed smaller than a 12 point font. If you use a script font for your logo or your name, try opting for a more stylized serif font like Lucida Calligraphy or Harrington.

  1. Leave Some Space

While it might be tempted to use up every available piece of prime real estate on that business card, don’t be afraid to leave some white space. From a design perspective, good design hinges on the play between positive and negative space, and filling up all your negative space might make your card feel a bit too cluttered. On a more practical side, many people use business cards for taking notes about appointments or questions they think of to ask. Leaving that space for them to write might help draw in more business.

  1. Get Your Card Printed Professionally

While it might seem like a good idea to save some money and print your cards from home, getting professionally printed business cards leaves a much better impression. Unless you run a print shop and can use your own equipment to print off your cards, leave the printing to the professionals, like Join Print, who offer professional printing and design services for a variety of marketing materials.

  1. Make Sure It Fits

While it might not seem like much, making sure your business car fits the card slot of most wallets is surprisingly important. If they’re forced to put it anywhere other than a business card slot, there’s a much higher chance they’ll lose the card or end up tossing it out once they clean out their wallet next. Having larger business cards can also be a hassle since they end up getting folded up in a pocket or wallet, and depending on the kind of print options you selected, the fold in the printed portion might make some sections of your card unreadable if the finish cracks or splits in the wrong place.

While there are plenty of other elements that make a successful business card, these are the essentials. These will mostly make or break your business card in terms of effectiveness. While not necessary, having a call to action on your business card can help incentivize people to visit your website or shop at your store, for example having the business card act like a coupon of some sort. Also, if you have more than one business whose services are completely unrelated (such as plumbing and editing), make separate cards for each business. This way you can avoid confusion, and cater your cards to your respective audiences.