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How to design a business card: the complete guide

How to design a business card

Despite the fact that marketing strategies are becoming increasingly digital, the printed business card retains its position as a staple of the business world—and it’s easy to see why. It’s a cost-effective way of demonstrating your credibility and making a lasting impression.

This small piece of paper does a lot of heavy lifting for your business, providing your most critical business information in one compact space and serving as an unintrusive, friendly invitation to reach out at any time.

Although you can hire a professional to help you design a business card, it's also possible to do it yourself with affordable tools like Wix's business card maker. Below are some quick tips to help you design a business card yourself.

What to include when designing a business card

Designing a business card is an art unto itself. That tiny rectangle not only serves as an important informational touchpoint but an extension of your brand. “Small business owners tell us they see a return when they invest in physical, print marketing and business cards are no exception," says Candace Farias, senior director, category experience, with VistaPrint.

“Today, thoughtfully-designed business cards do more than carry contact information – they’ve become an outward extension of a brand and a dependable tool to build engagement, loyalty and relationships.

Here are some helpful business card guidelines according to VistaPrint your brand can follow.

The best business cards encapsulate your branding and communicate important information without trying to cram in too many unnecessary details. Let’s talk through the elements that you can include on your business card:

  • Logo: A company logo goes a long way in establishing professionalism and credibility, so you should place yours front and center. If you don’t already have one, you can hire a professional designer or do it yourself with this logo maker.

  • Company name: Include your business name on the card, unless it's already evident in the logo or if it matches your own name.

  • Your name: Your business card serves as a means of connecting with you as an individual, making your name essential to the design.

  • Your job title: Include a word or two about your role in the company, such as ‘Founder and Manager’ or ‘Designer.’

  • Email address: Include your business email address so that potential leads know how to get in touch.

  • Phone number: If you do a lot of business over the phone, it's a good idea to include your business phone number to make it convenient for prospects to get in touch.

  • Website: If you have a business website, include the domain name (e.g., on your business card.

  • Tagline: A tagline or catchy slogan isn't required, but it can be helpful for branding. It offers a brief, catchy description of what you do in just a few words

  • Social media info: If relevant, add your social media handles.

  • Call to action: If you have the space, adding a call to action can help to encourage prospects to get in touch. Your CTA could be something like, “Visit our website,” “Book your appointment” or “Email me.”

  • Additional details: If you have extra space on the card, it might benefit you to include details like your brick-and-mortar address or your hours of operation.

How to design a business card

In this section, we'll explore some valuable tips for how to design a business card in a way that effectively represents your brand, captures attention and leaves a lasting impression.

01. Learn the lingo

Here are a few important printing terms to keep in mind before approaching the design of your business card:

  • Bleed area: This refers to the space around the edges of the business card that gets trimmed away. Extend design elements past the bleed line to ensure that there won’t be any white edges around your design if there are minor variations in the printing and trimming process.

  • Trim line: This line marks the edges of the card, indicating where the printer will make the blade cut.

  • Safety margins: These mark the lines beyond which no important design elements (such as text or logos) should be placed. The safety margins are usually around 0.19” from the trim line. This practice is meant to prevent the design from being cut off, as the printer will make the cut anywhere between the bleed and the safety margins.

  • Color mode: Whereas most people design in RGB color mode, printers use CMYK or Pantone. If you’re using a different color mode from the printer, the colors might not match your original design. Additionally, keep in mind that colors may appear differently on screens compared to their printed version. To ensure color consistency, request a print proof or carefully review the printer's guidelines to make sure that the colors in your design match your expectations when the final printed cards arrive.

  • Paper stock: You've got plenty of choices when it comes to the type and quality of paper for your business cards. Consider options like matte, coated, textured, recycled, glossy and more. Pick a paper stock that matches your brand and the look you're going for. It's all about finding the right fit to create business cards that reflect your style and leave a memorable impression.

  • Resolution: Resolution refers to the clarity and sharpness of the images and graphics in your design. To ensure that your business card isn’t pixelated, work on a 300dpi resolution file. The logo, icons and graphics you use in your design should be of equally high quality.

How to design a business card: bleed area, trim line and safety line

02. Choose your shape

The standard size for business cards in the U.S. and Canada is typically 3.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall. However, business cards offer endless possibilities in terms of shape and size. From squares and circles to unconventional shapes like cupcakes and cars, you have the freedom to get creative. If you want to maintain a professional look while adding a unique touch, you can also opt for a vertical orientation of the standard card. This allows you to stand out while still conveying a sense of professionalism and creativity.

03. Stay on-brand

With so many cool business card ideas, it’s easy to get carried away. But your business card should help you build your brand and motivate people to reach out, so it’s important that every choice you make follows the same rules as your other brand assets. This means maintaining visual coherence, utilizing your brand colors, fonts, imagery and brand voice. By adhering to these principles, your business card will effectively represent your brand identity and help you establish meaningful connections.

04. Establish an information hierarchy

Establishing an effective information hierarchy is crucial when designing your business cards. By prioritizing essential details and organizing them logically, you ensure that the most important information stands out and is easily accessible. For example, you might want to put the logo on the front and everything else on the back.

Consider using larger fonts, bold colors or distinctive typography to emphasize key elements. Additionally, incorporating visual cues such as icons or lines can guide the reader's focus and create a visual flow.

05. Use high-quality graphics

An image can be an illustration, a photograph, an icon or a pattern. While each of those serves a slightly different purpose, they can draw attention to your brand. For example, a bakers’ business card can include a stylish illustration of berry-scattered macaroons or alternatively, a black-and-white photograph of hands skillfully kneading dough.

Avoid using images that are too literal and don’t contribute to the card’s overall mood and vibe. If you’re an artist, for example, showing one of your pieces is a better option than going for a more generic icon of a paintbrush.

06. Prioritize legibility

Creativity is great, but the number-one priority for your business card is that it’s easy to read. Use fonts that are larger than 8 points and letterforms that don’t look too cramped at smaller sizes. You should also check that there’s a high enough color contrast between the text and background. Finally, avoid cluttering your card with a variety of fonts, bright graphics or flashy finishes. If too many elements are fighting for the reader’s attention, your card will be visually overwhelming and difficult to comprehend.

07. Explore finishing options

Applying special finishes can make for a truly bespoke business card and create a lasting first impression. "Considering elevated treatments like thicker paper stock, premium shapes or specialty finishes—think foil or embossed gloss—can help to drive greater impact and leave a lasting impression," says Candace. While these extra touches are more costly, they add a luxurious feel and subtle tactility to your cards. Here are some options to consider:

  • Foil stamping or metallic inks: These techniques add a metallic sheen and elegance to specific elements of your design.

  • Embossing or letter pressing: These methods create a raised effect on certain parts of your card, giving them a three-dimensional quality.

  • Spot UV coating: This technique applies a clear, glossy coating to selected areas of your design, such as your logo, for a striking contrast and added visual appeal.

  • Laser cuts: This method uses a laser to create intricate cuts in the design, resulting in a visually captivating and intricate final product.

  • Special materials: Business cards are commonly printed on cardstock, but they can also be printed on materials such as wood, metal or magnets.

08. Print a test copy

Before placing your order, print out your mockup and review it for any necessary last-minute changes. Additionally, consider asking a colleague or friend for a spot-check. Here are some questions to ask them:

  • Are there any spelling areas?

  • Are the graphics high-resolution and of good quality?

  • Does your design account for the bleed area, trim line and safety line?

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your business card design is error-free, visually appealing and properly formatted for printing.

Design a business card with Wix

At Wix, we believe in the power of a well-designed business card to make a lasting impression. Our online business card design tool makes it easy to design and order professional cards personalized with your unique business and branding elements.

Choose from a wide selection of templates that let you customize elements like color, finish and background. Add shapes, vector art and your own images for even more customization and refine your text with the font, color and size of your choice.

We’ll take care of the printing, so you won’t have to worry about finding a printer. Because you’ll pay about $35 for 500 business cards, our prices are affordable for small business budgets.

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