Quickie Business Card Design II

Quickie Business Card Design II

Business Card Gen V I’ve playing with my business card designs again, printing off another 2 sets of 10 cards, this time on Avery 8879 Glossy “Clean Edge” Business Card templates. Design Notes follow.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Quick Business CardsHere’s the old card from July 26. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view.

Quick Business Cards II and IIIHere’s the new cards. From left to right, generation IV and V. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view.

Generation IV was my first response to declutter the old business card, which had way too much crap going on. However, I went too small with the font; when I handed it to someone, they were unable to read it without squinting through their glasses. As a concession I increased the byline font size very slightly (8pt to 9pt) in Generation V. Still not really friendly to older people, especially since the small listing of skills is low-contrast gray AND 7pt.

Between GenIV and GenV, there are also some other layout improvement:

  • The spacing is more regular in GenV…not perfect, but better. This helps give the information a cohesive, solid feel. It’s probably at about 90-95% of the spacing perfection I can muster.
  • The hue contrast between the orange dots and the blue information is more interesting…they’re color complements, which adds some energy and visual distinction between the top and bottom part. In GenIV, the use of similar greens as a repeating, regularly-spaced accent color helps unify the layout. In GenV, I purposefully split it again, but use regular spacing to help unify the overall card. It’s a different, more energetic feel. Also, blue and orange are two colors I used a lot on my Apple II back in high school, so I’m rather fond of this combination.

  • I added a shaded bar to the left to slim up the vertical whitespace, which almost but not-quite-worked in GenIV.

  • I added a square bullet to focus the eye on the very first line. This compensates for the bold black weighting I’ve put on my name and phone number; ordinarily it probably would get the attention first. I want people to read the little visual puzzle first, then read my name / title to make the connection. I could have made them all equal weight in tone, but that would have looked boring.

  • I stayed with this is three dots instead of “these are three dots”. I’m thinking three dots as a single group, which makes the wording grammatically OK. The width of the line is more even compared to the following line, which aesthetically makes me feel good. I also respaced the circles so they were more in alignment with the H in SEAH. I probably need to jog them over just a tiny bit to visually align them; it’s looking just a tad pinched.

Other Thoughts


p>When designing business cards, it’s neat when you can get away with a full-bleed background element. On the particular templates I have, each card touches each other, and that makes registration of the bar a little challenging. The registration can shift by as much as a millimeter or so when I run the template through my printer, so it has to be laid out such that the sidebar edges butt up right against each other. This ensure that the bleed doesn’t screw up, and there is printing all the way to the edge. This is a fun trick…see the image below!

Business Cards on Template These cards are a bit plainer than the ones I’ve made in the past, but I like the “three dots” story a lot, and adding more elements tends to rob the card of its visual impact. Right now I think I have a pretty good balance between information, whitespace, and story. I’ll have to see how people react to it this week.

The card lacks the elegance of other cards I’ve seen, but it’s moving in the right direction. It just needs the lightest touch of sweetness to round it out. That could be a subtle texture or just the right accent color or spot graphic element. Or it could be better kerning (it’s a bit ragged) or typeface selection (I’m using Helvetica Neue at the moment, which doesn’t work that well with the line spacing I have…I need something with a slightly lower x-height I think). Or I might have to choose a different set of colors (the contrast between orange and blue is pretty extreme. The exact treatment eludes me at the moment, but in the meantime I’ve got a card that I feel OK about handing to people. I will probably print it on Matte stock next time…I just like the way that looks better.

If I go to print, I could move the “three dots” to one side of the card, and buy myself more whitespace to play with. Worth considering!


The design challenge continues in Part III


  1. Mark 18 years ago

    Ah, but between Gen IV & V you removed Digital Media Methods & Training too! The value proposition!

  2. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    I’m not sure that’s the value proposition, but you’re right…I should be putting what I want to be doing MORE of on the card than what I’ve done in the past. I’m clinging to the paaaasst! :-)

  3. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Hm, what ARE my three main value propositions? I was thinking digital media methods = production methods (the graphics development integration side of things. And then there’s what I need to list to make “what I do” clearer. The list of things is designed to be a trigger list so people go “Oh, that’s what he can do for me.”

    Flash / Actionscript can probably stay.
    Digital Media Methods and Training maybe should come back, because it does speak to a certain “expertise”.
    Interactive / GUI is also good stuff…people sort of understand what that is.

    Maybe Productivity / Workflow has to go (I just want to keep it to 3 things visually, which is why I dropped it).

    Maybe I change the bullets to + signs, and then productivity / workflow is sort of implied by “information graphic designer”.

  4. Mark 18 years ago

    I agree. Solid Productivity/Workflow traits are instrinsic to an expert Methods/Training/Info Designer consultant.

  5. Chase 18 years ago

    The new card design looks great.

    To ask a boring, technical question. How did you print them? Did you use a MS Word template from Avery? Illustrator/Photoshop? I just purchased a pack of similar cards (laser jet version), but it appears as though there is not an available blank template.


  6. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Mark: Thanks for the feedback!

    Chase: I just measured my template and created some guides in Illustrator. The business card dimensions are exactly 3.5 x 2 inches, and centered in the middle of an 8.5 x 11 page, 10 to a sheet. It’s a little easier to set up if you turn of guide-locking and type in the coordinates directly into the Illustrator coordinates panel. Avery used to supply these templates years ago, but I have since been unable to find them.

    I then dump the illustrator file to press-quality PDF, and print that unscaled to my printer (Illustrator is a little funky when it comes to non-postscript printers, but Acrobat Reader handles them a little more straightforwardly).

  7. y0mbo 18 years ago

    Thanks for taking the time to document your process and thoughts about your card design.  Its great to see how a designer goes through the iterations and why things get changed.

    Your cards looked great before.  Now they’re even better.

  8. Papilia 18 years ago

    Just a small comment – most business cards have a landscape format, and most office supplies for storing business cards are in a landscape format. If you have a layout that is not like that, it will be very annoying to read your card once it is in whatever storing device the client uses. At least that is my experience with business cards.

  9. Travis Vocino 18 years ago

    I’ve been playing with some personal “Travis Vocino” business card designs myself.  One little issue I keep facing is the url.  I don’t know if I like the “http://&#8221; in front, but just the domain itself seems lacking.  I considered putting a “web:” in front, such as you would a “tel:” or “fax:”.  Making it “www.” would look a little nicer probably but the www is so depreciated and I always hated it.  I even remove the www from my url when you visit my site with it.

    Such a dilemma!

  10. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    y0mbo: Glad you enjoyed seeing the process. I thought people might find it interesting, and maybe even find some fault with it. That would be great to trigger a discussion.

    Papilia: That’s an excellent argument…I considered it, but decided I liked the impact more than the usability. Though, maybe it is a good idea to print the BACK of the card in a business card rolodex-friendly manner. All function, no nonsense?

    Travis: I know exactly what you’re talking about…I am not a fan of http:// or www. I will use www if I can use that to get away from http://, if it streamlines the look (The Printable CEO forms use the www, which is shorthand pretty much for ‘website’). I originally had http://www.davidseah.com, but appearing just below the email address it looked funny. So I added the http:// and it seemed to help. You would think that most people would “get” that if you see a .com address, to go check out the website, but I find you really actually do have to spell it out…THERE IS A WEBSITE. A while ago I tried dropping the URL altogether, thinking people would see the “davidseah.com” email address and then intuitively know that there was a site, but this didn’t end up being the case. I’m not quite happy with what I have, but I’m not worried too much about it.

  11. Tomislav 18 years ago

    Great work David, I like it.

    Does anyone know of a business card design gallery? Where you could get inspiration by looking at some creative designs. :) something like the css galleries.

  12. Travis Vocino 18 years ago

    Tomislav: I often go to Flickr and search “Business Card” as people (including David and I) post their business card designs whenever they have something new to show off.

  13. Todd 18 years ago

    So David, what printer do you use?  I am always interested in what tools people use to get good quality prints.

    also, off topic, I am narrowing down the tools from our previous conversation (re. task management and GTD) I’ll post on that thread with what I come up with.

  14. peninah 18 years ago

    thank you for the advice regarding the bleeding! it’s why i didn’t go live with that generation of my cards… and am currently stuck with the horrid dribble i have. lots of great ideas.. let’s see what i can do (and i owe you email, i’m buried)

  15. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Tomislav: I was going to say what Travis said! Lots of neat cards. Also, next time you’re at the bookstore, look for graphic design books in the art section. There are annual collections of the best identity work, business cards, annual reports, etc. If you can hit the library and look for back issues of the Communication Arts annuals, there are often a lot of good things there too.

    Todd: I use this to print. So far, like it a lot!

    Peninah: Yeah, post your card when you’re ready!

  16. Spacedman 18 years ago

    I feel really sorry for that poor dot all on its own on the right while the other two dots snuggle up on the left… Why did it have to be a sad story? :)

  17. David Wallace 18 years ago

    Are there any business card formats out there that put 12 cards in a 3×4 format on landscape paper rather than the 2×5 format on portrait?  I want to double up folding cards and the standard format is rather wasteful.

    Perhaps a portrait business card format that I print on sideways would work.

  18. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Spacedman: I’m glad someone can see the story :-)

    David W: I’ve sometimes used 2:1 ratio cards, which are thinner than regular business cards but the same length. The regular business card size is 3.5 by 2 inches; using 3.5 x 1.75 cards, you can squeeze 12 cards on.

    I’ve never seen a 3×4 card template from Avery, though there are products like this online card maker and this card cutter machine

  19. alice 18 years ago

    “Avery used to supply these templates years ago, but I have since been unable to find them”

    here you can download templates for illustrator