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Nuts and Bolts: Photo Cards

June 14, 2012

Here’s a classic Nuts & Bolts from last year featuring some examples on how to (and how not to) design Photo Cards. Enjoy this blast from the past!


In past Community Newsletters, I’ve given you Designer’s Tips for Creating Photo Cards and Top Five Tips for Designing Photo Cards. Mindy (GCU Administrator) gave some important Guidelines in the Forum. Today, we’re going to talk about how to design Photo Cards that will grab shoppers’ attention, and how to fix a so-so card to turn it into selling gold.

All of the “Before” card examples were actually acceptable by GCU’s standards – yep, I checked. However, from a commercial standpoint, they weren’t so great. With some tweaking, however, the bar was raised, as was the appeal. I expect card designs like the “After” examples will do well.

Le’s get into it, shall we? Take a look at this first example:

In the Before image, you’ll see the design itself is okay…if it was just a normal Halloween card. As a Halloween Photo Card, it doesn’t really work. Why? Because it looks like exactly what it is: an existing card with a couple of tiny photos shoehorned on it. And it looks unfinished because the photo boxes don’t have a border around them. The emphasis has been placed on the design elements rather than the shopper’s photographs. In the After image, you see the emphasis has been shifted so the photos take center place with design elements interacting slightly with the photos – a very cutting edge composition. Will it be successful? Well, we sold one shortly after the Photo Cards went public, so I’d say “yes!”

Moving on to example number two…

In the Before image, again the emphasis has been put on the design element – in this case, the skeleton – with the photo area negligible, apparently almost an afterthought. You can see where I was going with the idea, but the execution was lacking. Now look at the “After” image. Although the actual photo area isn’t that much bigger than before, by giving it a somewhat irregular frame that picks up the color on the new front of card text, and allowing the skeleton to interact with the photo, the composition is very much improved. Now the visual joke works so much better!

And the last example…

The idea of having a giant black, hairy, scary spider menacing the person in the photo is pretty good, however in the “Before” image, it doesn’t have a lot of impact. The photo area is too small, and there’s no border to define the area and give it a crisp edge. In the “After” image, I haven’t changed the photo area’s position, but I’ve enlarged it and made it into a circle, and given it a defining border. Voila! The idea in this new translation suits much better, and I’ve allowed the spider to interact more with the photo to give it even more oomph.

So there you have it – three Before and After greeting card examples of Photo Card design mistakes and how to fix them. I tend to learn best with visual information, so I hope this article will help point you towards making successful designs.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Angela / Inkflo permalink
    June 18, 2012 2:39 pm

    Hi, and thanks for these tips.
    Being able to see the before and after is really helpful.
    I have to say, sometimes, I get so bogged down in finding the right background color, the best font, writing a verse, I perhaps tend to spend a little less ‘critical eye’ time regarding the impact of the card than I should.
    Maybe, it would be a good idea to design the front and then come back to it the next day and look again.

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