How to Design a Business Card

Business card design is no longer something you need a professional designer to do for you.

After all, you're the one who will be handing out your business cards, and you understand your potential clients best.

Business cards are a great way to leave a lasting impression after a face-to-face meeting.

In this article, we're going to give you some pro business card design tips on designing and preparing your business cards for print. You'll also find the handy business card templates that we've provided for you at the bottom of this page.

What you’ll Need

Why Should You Use Business Cards?

Business cards come from a long-standing tradition of leaving personalized tiles at places of worship in Egypt, to sending "visiting cards" in 15th-century China before an important meeting, and to 18th-century calling cards in France that spread to the rest of Europe.

In 17th-century London, businesses began using "trade cards" to promote their products and, most importantly, to solve the problem of finding their shop in areas where street addresses were not very apparent.

In Japan, meishi cards are still important symbols of business etiquette.

Historically, the main purpose of these small cards was to make one's presence and credentials known to others – way before telegraphs, telephones, pagers, texting apps, and social media!

4 Steps to Design Your Perfect Business Card

Are you in? These are our steps for designing your own effective business cards from scratch using digital software such as Vectornator.

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  • 1. Set Up

    When you create a new document, you need to set the Artboard size on your design software. This is the blank canvas that you'll be working on, and also determines the print size.

    For a double-sided business card, you'll need two Artboards that are identical in size and orientation. Watch the quick tutorial below to see how to set this up.

    The great thing about working with vector graphics is that you can always change the scale and size of your business card design later if needed.

    It also means you can copy elements from your business card to use in other corporate identity designs, such as letterheads and banners. This way, you can keep your brand identity uniform across various applications without having to redraw your design elements.

    Either way, it's good to choose the correct size for your business card before you start designing to save time in making layout adjustments later.

    • Standard Business Card Sizes
      • 90mm x 50mm (3.54" x 1.96") (International)
      • 88.9mm x 50.8mm (3.5" x 2") (US)
      • 63.7mm x 63.7mm (2.5″ x 2.5″) (US)
      • 85mm x 55mm (3.3" x 2.1") (EU)
      • 90mm x 55mm (3.54" x 2.1") (AU)

      It's good to know that there are no rules in terms of the minimum size, orientation, shape, or material of your business card! These standard sizes are only a guideline and the easiest to work with.

  • 2. Personalize Your Business Card

    Remember, the most basic purpose of a business card is to announce who you are and how to get in touch with you.

    Any business card needs five key ingredients:

    1. Your name (surname can be optional)
    Why? Because this will jog their memory to think back to the conversation they had with you. If there's more than one "Sarah/Charlie/Ben" at your company, it might be a good idea to add your surname!
    2. Your title or job role
    Why? Because it will remind them about what you do at your company, and it provides context for future conversations.
    3. Your company's logomark
    Why? To brand your business card and to help them learn more about what your company offers.
    4. Your company's website
    Why? Nowadays everyone has a web presence, and if you don't, it's taken as a sign of unprofessionalism. This is also especially important if your URL is unconventional (e.g., contains the alternate spelling of a word, coins a neologism, or ends with a lesser-known domain extension like .so or .studio) or if you're still working on your SEO.
    5. Your contact details
    Why? A business card exists to make personal connections. Giving them a way to contact you breaks down potential communication barriers and sales blockers.

    With these basics in place, you might want to consider other quirky personalization options to make your business cards stand out.

    • Using a QR Code

      QR codes are nothing new, and in some ways kind of cliché, but considering that most smartphones have built-in code scanners, it makes total sense to put a lot of information in one small square.

      If you want to keep your business card super minimal and make it easy for your potential customer to find more information, simply add a QR code that links to a relevant resource.

      Did you know QR codes can do much more than link to a webpage?

      • Add text to be displayed directly on their screen
      • Add vcard information to save your contact directly to their phone
      • Send an email or sms with predefined text
      • Receive a crypto payment
      • Post on social media
      • Show rich media such as PDFs, images, or music files
      • Share product info such as pricing
      • Share a location
    • Hand-Written Text

      Want to add an extra personal touch and feel super famous at the same time?

      Why not personally write your name or a greeting on your business cards to make your potential customer feel that extra bit more special.

      This can also be a potential cost saver for your company, because you can print out a large amount of "un-personalized" business cards and each person can simply write their own name on these before handing them out.

      Warning: If you're not confident about yours or your team's handwriting abilities, this might not work so well!
    • A Picture of You

      You know the old adage, people don't remember what you say, they remember how you make them feel?

      Well, adding a picture of your face will definitely help them remember how you made them feel, and this can prompt them to reach out.

    • Adding VR and AR

      Virtual reality has long been a fascinating prospect, and thanks to the recent developments in the metaverse, it has become a reality (well, sort of).

      Consider adding a virtual meetup link to your business card or an invite to the VR platform you're using. This way, you can do business on a personal level, even though you're technically not in the same room.

      Another cool idea is to add Augmented Reality (AR) elements to your business card to share three-dimensional drawings or immersive video recordings with your potential customer, wherever they are.

    • Keep It Relevant

      When it comes to business card personalization, there's so much you can do. However, it's important to remember that it should fit your brand and what your Ideal Customer Persona (ICP) is interested in.

      For example, if you're selling hearing aids to low-tech, elderly customers, scanning a QR code would probably not appeal to them and would present a technological barrier.

      So, think outside the box, but make sure it will delight your customers!

  • 3. Colors and Layout Design

    Too often, people tend to make a cool design first and then try and squeeze their business details into the layout.

    • Text First, Layout Later

      A safe range for font size is between 8pt and 11pt, don't try and add tiny text so that everything will fit into your fab design. This is one of the common pitfalls in business card design.

      If your business card looks good but the text is unreadable, it'll just end up in the trash.

    • Choosing Colors

      Use the color schemes set out in your company's brand guide and try to use contrasting or overly bright colors minimally (anything that can make it harder to read the text).

      The most important thing to remember is to allow white space in your layout – yes, business cards are tiny and contain a lot of info, but that's exactly why you need to make sure you leave some negative space to add a visual flow.

      Don't forget: White space doesn't have to be white! It can be any area that's clear of clutter and adds a sense of order to your design.
  • 4. Get Your Business Card Ready for Print

    You have all your crucial design components in place and you're happy with your layout. What's next?

    You need to prepare your file for print.

    Printing mistakes can be very costly, so take time to consider all your options and consult your printing provider for expert advice.

    • Preview Your Print Colors

      The first thing you need to realize is that the default RGB color model and CMYK printing colors are very different. Your business card colors will look darker and duller in printed form because of the ink pigments.

      You can see a CMYK preview of your design before exporting the file in Vectornator or design in the CMYK color space when you toggle CMYK Preview on in Settings.
    • Finishing Touches

      Once you're happy with your colors, you need to decide on any special finishes that you'd like to have done. These are only seen in the final printed product and include a matte or glossy finish, metallic foil stamping, embossing, spot UV, die cutting, and laser engraving.

    • Choose Your Card Stock

      These decisions, along with your business card dimensions, determine the kind of card stock you can use. Card stock is the paper type you'll use and includes the paper's texture, material, and weight.

      Card stock is thicker than normal bond paper that’s used for printing documents; the standard paper thickness used for business cards is 300 gsm or heavier. You can also have your business cards printed on colored paper.

      If you decide on a glossy, semi-gloss, or matte finish, you’ll need to choose a coated paper. Coated paper has a thin film added to its surface to make it smooth and polished with a crisper print. But if you want a more natural look, you should choose an uncoated paper that will have a softer, textured appearance.

      You must also be aware of how your paper choice will influence other finishes. For example, if you want to use rough linen paper, die cutting or laser engraving your logo might not be the best option because of the uneven paper texture and risk of potential fraying.

    • Get Printing Quotes

      We highly recommend shopping around for the best prices.

      Remember that many printers only print in bulk, and you might not initially have the budget for a run of 1000 business cards.

      Take into consideration whether the printers have suitable dies to cut your business cards if they're not the typical business card size. Die-making is pretty expensive, so if you're looking for something a little more unconventional, ask the printers what kinds of dies they already have so you can save on costs.

    • Adding Print Bleed And Safe Area

      Once you've decided on a printing provider, ask them about their specifications and whether you need to add bleed to your business card designs.

      Print bleed is when you add an extra margin of the colored parts of your design to ensure that none of the design looks cut off (yes, cutting won't be 100% on the trim line). The safe area is the padding inside the card design to ensure no text accidentally gets cut off.

Do People Still Use Business Cards?

Yes, we've just gone through the whole process of designing and printing business cards, but we thought that maybe we should also address the elephant in the room. You know us, we're all for digital, but:

  • Sometimes a personal touch is really the best and only option.
  • The standard we need to reach for in a digitized world is that quality is better than quantity.
  • A tool for word-of-mouth marketing to people you've actually spoken to.
  • Connecting with customers who visited your brick-and-mortar store.
  • Connecting your customers with your digital products or services.

Creating a professional business card shouldn't be a daunting task

With a few basic elements, using fonts and brand colors, you can create marketing materials that will serve you well.

With the range of customization options available, you can really challenge yourself to rethink this paper-based design and create unique and memorable business cards.

Want an easy start?

Check out our ready-made templates and follow the basic principles we've discussed above and you should have a beautiful business card ready in no time!

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On top of providing great tools for creating illustrations, Vectornator is great for other design cases too! For instance, you can create all your interface, lettering and print designs right inside Vectornator; no need to switch to another tool.
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Vectornator runs on iPadOS 14 & iOS 14 and later,
or macOS Big Sur and later (with native M1 support).