name card design 101

Earlier this week, I have scanned over 480 business cards and more than 200 businesses in one and a half day. Quite an accomplishment I would say, considering how much errors the card scanner made. So essentially, I am looking at 960 profiles: 480 during the scan, and 480 during the check. :p

The scanning was not the most boring part (the editing was) because I got to enjoy the 200+ different designs. Some which I liked. Editing was the killer. Can't really put the blame on the card scanner, it's just that most business cards are just not electronic-friendly enough!

These are a few card designs that I picked out, for various reasons:

  • ueeeu. I just thought it had the strangest company name. How do you even pronounce it!? For such a cute name, I would expect its card design to be more creative than conventional as it is now

  • wilsin. Roughly 6cm on its sides, a diamond shaped business card. Quite unique, but card scanners are not smart enough to detect rotated text. You will have to scan the card at 45 degrees (ie. align the text - not the edges - to the scanner).

  • aerodox. Black background with neon white/green text, embossed. Looks cool, but the worst thing to scan. Scanned images retained 0% information. Might have worked with a better and color scanner. The one I used was black & white.

  • yeahpoint. When I designed my first name card, I used a similar concept. Cut-out dot from the "i" in "Yeahpoint". This one's actually better, as the concept incorporated the logo as well. Rounded rectangle makes it a very handy size and hard backing makes it more durable.

  • wego. Heh I like this. Really cute font and clean design. Text is big and clear, makes it easy for the scanner. But its awkwardly rectangular/ovular shape is hard to align properly.

  • upstream. Most interesting logo from the stack. Looks like a fish in the waters, or those mail validation stamps you see at the postage area.

  • mapicurious.com. Simple, clean, rectangular slip, like a small bookmark. Picture on back. Includes twitter, blog information.

Rather than relying on the technology of card scanners (technology is advancing, but there are still limitations), we can actually make a little effort to improve the effectiveness of card scanning.

What constitutes a good business card:

  1. Design. Yes, you want to stand out, make an impression amongst the hundreds of other business cards. Be representative and unique of your trade. Step out of conventionality. As a good start, try to incorporate your logo into your card design (colors, shapes, etc). Although traditional rectangular sized cards are best for scanning (easy to align), but I personally would give in for a nicely shaped business card. I'm thinking of a circle now... :p

  2. Font type. Business cards contain important information. So they definitely need to be readable, not only by humans but also by computers. Even the smallest scale businesses will use a card scanner to electronically keep their business contacts. How to ensure that font you pick is font that works? Take note of font spacing and font size. For example, Arial Narrow will not be a good pick for most business cards, unless the words are huge enough in order for the scanner to distinguish spaces between the letters. Same situation when the words are too small.

  3. Content & Layout Probably best to keep things simple for now (aligned text). For best results, stick to having just one piece of information for each line. If you really want to have two side by side, note the spacing between them. State clearly what each information is. (ie. If it's an email address, use headings like "email:" instead of "e." These tend to be mistaken as part of the email address.)

That's all for now. Will add when more comes to my mind. Happy designing! :)

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