Re-thinking Business Cards

GoUsability

Introduction

When I started my own company in Sweden, I needed a business card. Even though my focus was on online user experience, I felt that I could apply the same design processes to create something better than the standard business card. In this project, I did everything myself.

Traditional business cards

I started by listing all the assumptions around the traditional purposes of a business card. These were the assumptions I was going to question:

  • The only information on the card should be: name, title, company, and contact information.
  • The only thing that matters is the appearance.
  • It is only an exchange of contact information.
  • All business cards have the same impact; it is your pitch that matters.

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Collected information

I started my information gathering by conducting an online search. Most of the information I found was about graphic design, such as font selection and avoiding clutter. However, this information did not seem to be based on actual research, so I went ahead and conducted my own. I observed people at some networking events, and these insights turned out to be more interesting.

  • Many people wanted to give cards away as they seemed to view it as a classic form of marketing: get as many eyeballs on the company and eventually someone will need your service.
  • People ended up with 20+ new business cards due to this classic marketing view.
  • Many people had a pen with them and wrote notes on the card to remember the person and what they offered (i.e. it was hard to know which card belonged to whom).
  • Everyone had a perfect elevator pitch to describe what he or she did.

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Define my purpose

I used mind mapping to ideate the purpose and goal of my business card. With these goals in mind, my business card would:

  • Help people remember me after the networking event.
  • Educate people about what I do to support my elevator pitch.
  • Function as a good conversation starter, leading into a story to set me apart from others.
  • Bridge the gap between meeting people and receiving a potential phone call from them.
  • Peak interest and create a desire to find out more about me.
  • Provide traditional contact information to allow for direct contact if needed.

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Creation

After defining my goals, I started to ideate potential solutions. Being by myself, I relied on mind mapping, using things around my office to spark creativity. One of the breakthrough moments was when I noticed the web analytics book in my bookshelf. This led me in the direction of using offline to online tracking. It also led me to glance over all of my other books. One of those books was “Made to Stick” which highlights how a question can hook an audience.

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Making it visual

Initially I sketched out the design idea. The main components I created in the business card were the following (image below of the final design):

  • Design it to look like a website to convey that I primarily worked on software products.
  • Insert a picture of me so they could remember me easily after a networking event.
  • Insert an interesting question to peak their interest in my competence. (How can you make a button of 1×1 pixel easier to click than a button of 10×10 pixel?)
  • Did not provide the answer to the question, instead I provided a link to my website where they could find the answer.
    • This helped me push more potential clients to look at my website and check out my services.
    • The link also provided me with the ability to perform A/B testing of my business cards. I could have different business cards with different links and then see which ones generated more traffic.
  • The backside was plain white so it was easy to write any potential notes.

Image of the final design, not the sketch.

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Feedback

Before I asked for feedback I wanted to make it highly visual since a traditional business card is primarily focused on graphic design. Therefore, I used my limited graphic design skills to create an initial design. I printed it out on paper and collected feedback guerilla style. I received mixed feedback when asking about the first glance impression. Some thought it was OK, while some thought the graphic design was slightly poor (eg. including an image of myself).

After the first impression feedback, I shared the pitch that went along with the card with the participants. The feedback was very positive once they understood how the pitch and the business card worked together. People appreciated that my business card was thought through and not just a general card like everyone else’s.

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Iteration

Even though some considered including my picture odd at first glance, I decided to keep it since my observations had clearly shown that people had a hard time remembering who the business cards belong to. The only update I made to the final design was to change some text color (initially some of the text was orange).

Outcome

By thinking differently and questioning common assumptions, I succeeded to create a business card that helped me connect with potential clients on a deeper level.