Photo by overanalyzer
First of all, you need to know that the standard format for business cards is 85 mm x 55 mm. You don’t have to stick to it, but it’s a good idea to do so. Your standard sheet is an A4 size or 297 mm x 210 mm, so sticking to the standard format means you can print up to 10 cards on a sheet.
You can use a number of programs to create your card, from the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator and/or InDesign) to free alternatives such as GIMP. The design will be dictated by the brand image of your business, if you have one – if you don’t, this is when you need to think of one.
Remember also that the branding needs to be consistent with future stationery, such as letterheads.
Colour or No Colour, That Is the Question
This depends on a number of factors. What kind of printer do you have? How much ink are you willing to use? If you only have a laser printer, it will likely be a black and white one so you want to make sure that your design looks good in black and white.
If you are using an inkjet printer you want to know whether it’s a photo printer or not. Check your model’s spec if you don’t know. If your printer can’t produce photo quality you might want to “water down” your graphics – many low end printers have issues with complicated shades.
Should your printer be photo capable, then you can think of creating more complicated designs, but keep in mind that you also need to buy photo quality paper. And if you want to print on both sides, you have to buy photo paper that is designed for that, as usually only one side will “support” photo quality.
Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. Even if you can produce photographic prints, don’t litter your business cards with heavy photos and graphics. Remember that the first and foremost duty of a business card is to give your contact details and reiterate your brand. You use other things to catch people’s attention.
If you are stuck with the design use templates. If you are not a professional designer, creating the design for your card might be daunting. You can find plenty of templates from online resources, or even software that specialises in creating business cards and these will have templates. Use them as a starting point and then personalise them so that your card looks unique.
Before you start cutting your business cards make sure the ink is dry. This is especially true for photo quality prints but it applies to anything that is heavy on pictures and graphics. Also note that blue takes longer to dry than other colours. If you don’t wait your sheet may crease or your ink might smear.
Use heavier stock. Paper thickness is measured in weight, in Europe it’s usually grams per square meters (gsm). The normal A4 paper that you usually buy is of 80 or 85 gsm. You want at least 115 or 130 gsm paper.
Laminate your cards. Lamination gives your cards a glossy look, so even if you didn’t use photo paper your cards will look nice and shiny. However lamination is also good for practical purposes: your cards will be sturdier and more resistant to water, although I still wouldn’t recommend showering with your business cards!