Banner ads. They’re not always pretty, but companies of all sizes rely on this measurable and effective medium to increase brand awareness and drive sales.
Once you’ve written some killer copy and bought ad space close to the main content of a highly-trafficked webpage, you’ll need to choose a design and bring in those clicks.
What are the guidelines and best practices for banner ad design?
Below is a list of banner ad design tips and general guidelines:
- Start with the basics
- Stick to standard dimensions, formats and sizes
- Keep the design simple and instantly readable
- Give your ad a clearly defined frame
- Stay consistent with your company's branding
- Use imagery when you need it
- Instil a sense of urgency
- Consider using animation
1. Start with the basics
Make sure your banner ads include these three components.
- Your company logo: To build brand awareness, your logo should have a strong presence
- The value proposition: Tell viewers how they can benefit from your unique offering
- The call to action: The CTA should be a standout focal point of the ad, prompting viewers to click.
2. Stick to standard dimensions, formats and sizes
It's important to use correct formatting options including:
- Dimensions: According to Google Adsense the most successful banner ad sizes are 336 x 280 (large rectangle), 300 x 250 (medium rectangle), 728 x 90 (leaderboard) and 160 x 600 (wide skyscraper).
- Formats: You'll need a .JPG or .PNG file for static ads and a .GIF or .SWF format for animated versions.
- Size: The smaller the better, and always under 150 kb, according to Google Adwords.
3. Keep the design simple and instantly readable
Cut the visual clutter. Viewers are only going to glance at your banner for a few seconds. For readability, make your headline and body copy different sizes and keep your text to four lines or less. Stay away from cursive and thin fonts, and keep your size at 10 point or larger.
4. Give your ad a clearly defined frame
People's eyes are naturally drawn to a subject inside a frame. Give your banner ad a clearly defined border with graphics that extend to the edges of the box.
5. Stay consistent with your company's branding
Your banner ad is going to link to a landing page about the offer in your ad, so make sure the designs look consistent with each other and your company's overall branding.
6. Use imagery when you need it
Choose relevant images, graphics or photos that enhance your message and that are directly related to your product. No abstract concepts here. Can't afford professional photography or supermodels? Buy an affordable license for a stock photo. There are millions of high quality ones out there.
Note that it's not always necessary to use photos or images in your ads. Text ads with killer copy and nice typography can be just as effective.
7. Instil a sense of urgency
Make sure your ad brings a sense of visual urgency to the text with the use of contrasting, bold colour schemes and eye-catching images and text. Web ads are not meant to be subtle.
8. Consider using animation
Animated ads often outperform static banner ads, but you have to make sure that they don't distract from your ad's message. Use simple animations that last no more than 15 seconds, and include a call to action on the last frame. Make sure that they don't loop more than three times.
And there you have it. These are some general design guidelines, and there's definitely room for experimentation with each. It's also important to note that a good banner ad is not judged on how pretty it looks, it's judged on its performance. They're not the most beautiful form of media, but for now, banner ads are here to stay.
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