Got no idea which direction to take your banner design project?

You should always ask your clients the key questions that establish the general direction the Creative Banner design should go. There two questions which should not go unasked:

  • What is your client’s objective (what do they want their users to do)?
  • What performance indicators will be used to measure success?

These two questions will be the anchors upon which the entire project rests. You need to know what you’re designing for and how it will be measured for success, first and foremost.

A lot of secondary aspects of a Banner Production design project should also be considered. This is where these following five questions should establish what you need to do:

Digital Banner Production: Ask which Banner Ad Format to Use

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s standard banner ad formats offer a diverse range of choices that your client can choose from; you need to know if they need mobile, rich media, high impact formats (such as IAB’s Rising Stars, Homepage takeover, et al), or others. This is the most common technical question that should be asked first to gain a distinct idea of the direction the rest of the design will take. Digital creative agency clients might have a previous arrangement with a publisher regarding the placement of the ad, which means they’ll already know which formats would suit their purposes best. For clueless clients, however, you’ll need to guide them to the right decision yourself.

Ask (Recommend or Suggest ) a File Format to Use / High impact ad formats

flash vs. html5 ads

flash vs. html5 ads

HTML 5 ads and Flash dominate the rich media banner ad environment today and are the same file formats being pushed by the IAB for standardization. Your client, however, may have a few other ideas that they want to implement. To make it simpler, it’s best to recommend the standardized formats instead of openly asking what format your clients want their banners designed in; take command of the situation and look the part of the expert authority on designing banner ads.

Ask about the Specs

Rich Media Vendors

Rich Media Vendors

Some clients might not know the exact specs they need to work with, in which case, you simply ask about the platform where the banner ads will be published and base your specs on those platforms. It’s best practice to always consider the lowest common denominator when designing Responsive Ads that will be published across multiple platforms to avoid having to design the same ad for lesser specs. As for the rest of the common creative specs, you should always be recommending them rather than asking for them, proving to your clients that their banners are in good hands. Some common creative specs to consider include performance specs, audio and video specs, and the expansion and collapse actions of the banner ads, if any.

Confirm Dynamic Creative Optimization

Dynamic banner production

DCO is the best practice of creating different versions of one ad to more effectively deliver its marketing message to a certain subset of a targeted audience. If your client requires DCO design, you’ll need to find out about their target profiles and buyer personas. Ascertain what sort of target audiences you need to design for and plan ahead to limit the creative process of designing multiple versions of the same marketing message. This ties in with the most important question above: what is the goal of the ad? Is it intended for direct response campaigns or brand advertising campaigns?

Find out Your Client’s Creative Preferences and Limits

no one asked

no one asked

As the rich media banner ad designer, your creative control is limited by the preferences of your client, and your first goal is to deliver an ad that not only communicates the marketing message your client wants, but also blink test proof. Passing the blink test ensures that the ad you design is actually seen by its intended audiences – they need to be noticed first and not ignored for them to be able to deliver their sales pitch. Find out how much creative control you have and what your client’s creative preferences and limitations are, and combine this knowledge with your expertise in creating a Creative Banner that balances the package, the appeal, the message, and the interactivity into one high quality ad.

Remember, however, that each design project is different, which means that these five general questions would have different sub-questions under them depending on the banner ad you’re designing. Also remember that a goal without a plan is just a wish… 🙂


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