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Nuts and Bolts: Storefront Banner

May 8, 2014

BANNERS: A FIRST IMPRESSION

Apart from the background you give your store, and apart from any other bells and whistles, the banner (or header) at the top of your storefront reveals a lot about you as an artist, and equally importantly, you as a business person.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re designing greeting cards, uploading them to Greeting Card Universe, and trying to sell them to the buying public, then make no mistake – you ARE in business. And any business professional will tell you that first impressions are extremely important.

Typically, a person takes about three seconds to evaluate you at first glance. It’s no different when evaluating your store. When a shopper sees your storefront, the first thing that catches their eye is your banner because it’s right there at the top. In that split-second, the shopper is already forming an opinion of you (and by extension, GCU in general).

Since first impressions are nearly impossible to undo or reverse, you have to make yours a good one right off the bat if you expect shoppers to continue to the even more important (to you, anyway) task of browsing your designs and buying a card.

A good banner will entice shoppers to stay. It will impress them with your professionalism, your individuality, your personality, and give them an idea of what to expect from your card designs. You can’t afford NOT to make a good impression.

Where does a good banner start?

I’ll begin by pointing out that you need toactually make a banner. I can’t tell you how many artists’ storefronts I’ve visited lately, and there was no banner at all! Without a banner, your store looks unfinished and neglected, like you couldn’t be bothered to complete it. A shopper might think that since YOU can’t bring yourself to finish your store, why should THEY bother to stick around and look at your cards? Off they go, taking your potential earnings with them. If you owned a brick and mortar shop, wouldn’t you put a sign on the front to attract customers?

A poorly designed, badly positioned, out of focus, out of proportion, warped and/or wrong sized banner doesn’t do you any favors, either. Banners should be clean, crisp and clear, a synopsis of your design skills or a statement of your professionalism. A banner should be integrated into your storefront (preferable) or at least not be involved in a fight to the death with your background color.

Here are a few examples of good banners:

These banners are pleasant, well designed, and serve as introductions to each artist’s store. There are more good ‘uns out there; I just don’t have room to show them all.

So how do you make a good banner? The same way you make a good (ie, a commercially appealing) greeting card – by using your artistic and designing skills to the best of your ability. Here are some tips that can help steer you in the right direction:

Size matters!
The banner size that displays best is 945×149 pixels. Make sure it’s centered properly.

To Text, or Not to Text…
You’ll definitely want to include your name or your store name, but please… save the “cool” text effects for another project. Text on a banner should be easy to read, not fussy, look pleasing, and be well balanced with other elements in the overall design.

How Much is Too Much?
You shouldn’t try to cram everything but the kitchen sink into your banner. Too many different elements are distracting, not appealing. Strive for balance. If you have a logo (and you should – we’ll get into that another day), integrate it into the composition or make it the focus. Your mantra should be Keep It Simple.

Well Begun is Half Done!
Any art or photographic elements you use in your banner should be crisp, sharp, in focus, detailed without distracting elements, and represent you as an artist or photographer.

Remember, your banner tells a story about you. Make it a story that grabs a shopper’s attention, and leads them to the rest of the tale – purchasing your greeting cards!

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