Running an online business? You’re likely going to need to create a banner at some point to advertise a program, class, event or to promote a product offering.
The images below were recently created for one of my clients to promote a teleclass. This tutorial highlights the different aspects I had to consider when designing these graphics.
1. Where will this graphic be used?
- Is it on your own site or someone else’s?
- Are there a lot of competing visual elements?
- What can you do to make your graphic stand out?
In this case, the graphics were to be used on someone else’s site, so I needed to make sure that the design clearly identified what the offer was but elegantly worked on another site.
(QUICK PRO TIP: Take a screen shot of the site where the graphic will be used and overlay your new graphic on top — is your eye attracted to the graphic or does the graphic get lost in the surroundings?)
2. What are the parameters?
- What pixel size does your graphic need to be? Larger sites (like blogs or shopping sites) will have established size or will require industry standard sizes (such as 728px x 90px examples above)
- Does it need to be under a certain file size? (banners are typically made to be under a specific weight like 50k or 100k to prevent bandwidth hogging downloads – this is super important on mobile accessed sites)
- Will you need to create multiple variations or sizes of the banners?
3. What content is NON-negotiable
- What must absolutely be on the graphic? Less is more – what can you do to cut down the amount of text?
- I often see people trying to squeeze every last detail into a small space – think of a banner as a call to action to drive the user TO the information/sales page, not to display all of the details.
In the examples above, I was able to cut out one line of text (from version 1) that allowed me to enlarge the main text, making it easier to read and more impactful.
4. Do you have branding guidelines you must adhere to?
- Do you have to use a logo? If so, are you allowed to use it in one color or must it be full-color? (Often I overlay logos in black or white onto banners – this opens up a lot more design options as the logo won’t distract from the main image or content).
- Do you have to stick to a specific color palette & font standards?
I had designed the client’s site, elenabrower.com, so I was intimately familiar with the look and feel – to keep the branding elements consistent, I used the same main image I used on the site as well as the same type treatments and colors. I also need to add the host’s logo, which uses a strong blue — since I try to use only one dominant color, I used subdued colors from the site palette for the rest of the graphic.
6. Do you have a few image options?
Sometimes no matter what you try, you just can’t get a particular image to work (I find that vertical images are trickier to work with than horizontal banners). Try swapping out the image.
7. Make sure to step away
Once I’ve created a first round of a design, I make sure to give myself some space (a few hours/days) before I look at the image again. Often when I come back with fresh eyes, I’ll think of a new way to align content and imagery. You can see the difference in Version 1 vs. Version 2 – I aligned the text and image in a different way, creating a whole new look that still related to the client’s site but still had a sense of balance.
8. Do the elements align correctly?
Nothing bugs me more than when something feels “off” – I can tell when things aren’t blended well or objects are off by a few pixels. You can see how I aligned the text – in the first image, the text is centered, while in the second image, the text elements are aligned to the left and to the right.
9. Is there enough contrast?
Using a light image or textured background? Make sure your text is dark enough to be legible.
10. Creative Cropping
When you have a defined space to work in (such as in banner graphics) playful cropping of imagery can provide instant visual interes. I’d rather see a face close up than an entire body from far away – you want to draw your user into the image.