The UX of Business Cards 2013

I recently was handed a special business card.  The woman actually spread out a deck of cards with about half a dozen different styles.  (Imagine she said “Pick a card, any card!” like a magician).  They had all different images on the back, all original illustrations.  She had them in 2 card stocks.  One was matte and the other with a satin finish.  See below:

piehole-bizCards

The first is the glossy style and the second the matte finish.  The matte was also heavier than the first one.  I held both in my hands and really soaked in the UX.  I immediately thought these were the best cards I have seen in a long time.

Matte or Satin
Interestingly, I did a little test.  I put the cards in people’s hands and asked them which they liked more.  People looked at them both, but the matte finish had an interesting side-effect.  People kept rubbing it with their thumb.  They couldn’t stop touching it.  The Satin was sharper, more resistant to degrading and cheaper to produce.  However, the Matte got all of the hand attention.  People didn’t even realize it was happening until I pointed it out.

Look at the image above.  You can see how much more touching the Matte received.  I’ll use the analogy  The matte is like a vinyl record and the satin finish is like a CD.  The CD is better in every measurable way.  However, the vinyl created a stronger experience.  It was more fun to collect.  It was a lasting experience, BECAUSE of the flaws, not in spite of them.

Making things perfect is never the goal.  Creating a strong experience is the goal.  When people realize that, they will make much better products.

Great Business Cards
The first and most important aspect of a business card:
It should leave an impression.  People get cards all the time and most of them end up in the trash.  You need your card to grab a hold of someone and tell them, “Hey, this is special!”.  This is especially true for creative types, but even for something like an accountant, you want your business card to stand out.

The second most important thing is to: Not suck.  Here is a quick list of business card don’ts.

  1. Don’t make tiny/enormous business cards.  In fact, don’t stray from the basic dimensions for your country.  In the US it’s 3.5 x 2 inches.  They are a pain in the ass to carry and don’t improve the UX.  It stands out, but in a way you want to throw away immediately.  Wrong impression.
  2. Don’t show perforations or other signs of cheapness.  There is nothing lamer than knowing the business card was printed at your house on perforated cheap paper.  If it’s worth giving out, spend the money to get a decent card.
  3. No QR Codes or other advertisements.  It’s tacky.  It takes up room and detracts from the experience.  Your card has one purpose, to communicate who you are.  Don’t try to make it interactive.  Don’t try to sell other ideas.  It’s not a billboard.
  4. Don’t put in too much information.  Do people REALLY need your fax number?  REALLY?  Do they need your physical address?  Less is more.  Stick to the basics.  They need to contact you, give them the best way.
  5. Don’t make the card all dark colors.  People often want to write something on the card.  Give them space and light backgrounds to do so.  Make it easy to write on.

One great place to get great custom business cards is Moo.  They have great paper and the web app works very nicely.  Browse their designs and you will see many creative ideas.

Having a great business card doesn’t cost much, but you have to think about the details and the experience.

One Reply to “The UX of Business Cards 2013”

  1. As always I love your observations. They make me think!

    As a tip, if you don’t need biz cards that often it is worth while spending the same amount for a smaller batch, then for a larger batch of cheap cards with a not so great UX.

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