Business card front

Business card front ...

Business card back

... and back

A couple of weeks before we attended PAX East, we realized that it might be nice to have business cards to hand out. We created designs for the front and back, then looked for a site where we could upload them as JPEGs and place an order. In the process, we learned a few lessons.

Get feedback on your card design before ordering. Our initial design for the front of the cards used a palette of earth tones. When we showed it to our team of design experts friends, however, everyone said it looked like crap. (Literally, in a couple of instances.) We tried a few other palettes before switching to a simple but effective solution: we reused the main color of the back, which everyone had liked.

Be careful with colors. Some colors don’t look exactly the same in print as they do on a computer screen. We used a light, creamy yellow as an accent color, but the saturation level was low, and on the printed cards it doesn’t “pop” the way it does onscreen. The cards still look nice, but we’ll use a more saturated color on the next run.

Account for the “bleed” area. Print companies typically recommend that you reserve at least 1/8″ on all sides of your design to account for minor variations in where the cards are cut. (Many provide templates with the exact dimensions to use in pixels.) Text and foreground elements shouldn’t stray near this “bleed” area, as they might get cropped or lack a suitable margin depending on where the cards are cut. Backgrounds, on the other hand, should be “full bleed” and extend across the entire area; otherwise, you might end up with a bit of white around the edges of your cards.

Card size varies from country to country. 3.5″ x 2″ is the standard in the U.S., but the U.K. uses something closer to 3.31″ x 3.17″ (85 x 55 mm), and other dimensions are used elsewhere. We discovered this because we used Moo, a company founded in London, to print a set of cards showing off the fantastic portrait art Chris Rahn has done for us. (We’re up to six portraits in the Bastion gallery, with four more on the way.) When we decided to get our business cards from a U.S.-based company, we found that the dimensions needed to be different.

Research pays off. After looking at more than half a dozen online printers, we settled on Zazzle, which promised a remarkable turnaround time — just 24 hours to create the cards and get them out the door — at a fairly low price. And they delivered: the cards arrived on time and look snazzy, the issue with the accent color notwithstanding.

If you’re an old-school RPG player, you might have noticed a resemblance between our cards and certain adventure modules and maps. If not, we hope they’ll still catch your eye and give you a hint of what drives 10×10 Room: a sense of fun.