making a great business card

I'm trying to redesign my business card and would like some input. For some reason, I got to thinking that when someone hands you a business card, it should have something that grabs the person so they remember that person. I've looked around the web and found some great ideas (unforunately I can't pay for them like having metal or plastic ones made). So, having to print my own, I started to redesign mine. Most that I see are straight on and boring. Anyone have any thoughts as to what makes a great business card?


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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)



I need a business card for one reason only--to avoid scribbling someone's contact info down when I first meet them.

I want clear type that's large enough to read without a magnifying glass. I want enough contact details that I could reasonably find the guy (Mobile phone is excellent, or text-pager's email address). I want all the numbers labeled so I can tell the difference between desk, mobile, fax, alternate, after hours, secretary, voicemail, etc. A web address is helpful if the web page itself is useful and the name is non-intuitive.

The most attractive cards are pretty minimal, with information on one half and a small but clear logo on the other. The ones that help me remember the person are the ones that have a small photograph of the person printed right on the card. Names I forget, faces remind me more. These are typical in the real estate biz, but I've also seen them in banking.

If you sell forgettable products or services, or your company's name isn't very descriptive, then a short statement about your company's specialty is occasionally helpful (in a conference or trade show setting). You could alternatively include a photo of the product if it's reasonable to do so.

I've seen cards that were printed on colored background, like yellow or gray. They didn't really impress me, but if it fits with your company (a yellow and black striped border for a company that sells safety equipment, for example) then it's OK. I've seen some with textured paper (like resume paper). These tell me the company spent some money on their card and that the company cares about a high-end image, but doesn't really help me remember the person.


from the artist in me

visually balanced and coordinating elements is VERY important.

Subtle embellishments can make a world of different to a business card... like a watermark in the background or shadows behind the text...

sometimes little things make the biggest impression.

plain and boring is a big NO NO for me... I shudder every time I have to print something that is overly boring... blahhh. I would love to suggest that I take a stab at designing their new cards but I fear insulting them... so I just print what they order. The business cards that I have designed have been big hits...

Feel free to contact me if you would like some advice or criticism or even if you would like me to do a rough draft kinda thing... BTW what program are you using for designing your new card?

my artwork| my blog

If you use a Mac...

You might want to consider Business Card Composer. You can hardly go wrong using this app. :-) But it would help to stick close to their own designs if you aren't comfortable going it alone with graphic arts.


Also, If you use a Mac...

Here's the Mac software I used to design my business card:
SOHO Business Cards


great online biz cards

If you want a nice and free card design, I recommend you take this site for a test spin:

They have a lot of current and slick and clean card styles. You can customize the colors and information. Not only is it fast and fun but they also allow you to download the cards in Adobe Illustrator format as well as PDF.

Create your card, download the PDF and take it to kinko's where they'll print the PDF up on nice paper and cut them out for you.


I've had several made up

I've had several made up lately without any street address on them, just my email address and phone number. Almost everyone just emails or calls these days so I just left off the address.

Also, Vistaprint has freebies that are very nice, imo. If you do want your own design there's a bit of a charge, but I love some of their natural and metal backgrounds. (No affiliation, just a satisfied - and repeat - customer.)


I was about to mention them if nobody else did. I've had a few sets of cards from them, and they've been great. My current card is just my name, email address, phone number, and URL...

Vistaprint gotcha...

Be careful, they have a very sneaky way of trying to get you to sign up for a "rewards program" or "rebate program" just as you are completing the checkout process.

If you click on that, they sign you up to ding you for anywhere from $6.95 per month to $14.95 per month on your credit card.

It is cretinous and wrong but they do it anyways, so be careful.

Business card messages

The design of business cards always sends a message. Depending on what you want to use the card for, you may have very different design needs.

I work for an organisation that wants to say "you can trust us to not waste a cent of your money" with their business cards. So my work business card is very bland, black print on plain white paper with no images at all.

But if I worked in graphic design I'd want to say "look what I can do for you, isn't this card cool". So I'd need a striking business card. Or if I worked for a sports team I'd like to have the team colours or logo.

Generally, I've found that tradespeople with multi-coloured business cards have the higher prices and poorer service. But perhaps it's just because I was phoning them all the time to complain and I kept looking at their business card. :)

My only real advice is don't make your business cards too trendy as people often keep business cards for some time and 2007 trendy colours may look quite unprofessional in 2010.

"Designed" business cards

I feel the business card layout and design is very much a reflection of your "corporate identity" -- what image you want to portray, how you want to be remembered, what message you need to deliver about your products or services. I've had some quite variable ones in my days at several different companies, ones that were basic and bland and completely lifeless, ones that oozed the word "corporation" so strongly it left a bad taste, and ones that were playful and colourful enough to be signal something outre, different.

FreeFlight cardHrm. This thread just made me dig up a business card I drew up some fifteen years ago, when a friend and I started a company to provide pre-dot-com creative multimedia services in Newfoundland. (The moon, the gulls, the fir trees, the fog, were all based on the typical scenery of that part of Canada.) Looking back, it's actually amusing how close it was to the D*I*Y Planner 3 design. I guess I really haven't come that far. ;-)

all my best,