The 5 Best Practices for Designing Ads

Key takeaways:

  • Following time-honored practices for designing ads helps ensure your campaign’s success.
  • You’ll get much better results when you have a plan for your ad design process.
  • Industry best practices can help you get the highest ROI out of your ad campaign.
  • If you have questions about ad design, asking an expert can get you the answers you need.

If you’re winging it on designing ads, you’ll learn fast that spontaneous decisions aren’t the best way to craft creative assets for your campaign. Instead of making decisions on the fly, you should use visual ad design best practices to make sure you’re thoughtfully designing ads.

For instance, it might seem like you should cram a lot of text into your ad so that you’re conveying every product benefit. But, visual ad best practices say that this is overcompensating and actually counterproductive.

It’s important to choose elements based on how they convey the message about your brand and product. For example, only use a color palette that’s relevant to your brand, not one that’s popular in your industry (unless it also conveys your brand seamlessly). You don’t have to choose a font you see every day like Roboto – you should choose an easy-to-read font that’s part of your brand kit.

According to CMO Council, 65% of corporate digital marketing leaders say that visual assets are incredibly important in communicating their brand stories. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. The question is, does your ad tell the story you want it to tell?

What is visual ad design?

Visual ad design is where marketing meets design. It’s like any other type of design except the end goal is to sell a product, service, or brand. In ad design, you use visually exciting images (and other design elements) to convey your brand and product. Designers use specific principles or best practices to create the best visual ad designs.

What visual ad design includes

Visual ad design includes the entire design process from start to finish and all of the elements and processes that go into creating a successful ad. In short, ad design includes the type of ad, the design elements, and the approach you use to accomplish it.

Ad types

You might immediately think of display ads when you hear about visual ad design. That’s an important type of ad design but it’s far from the only one. Ad design can include:

  • Video ads and commercials
  • Display ads
  • Social media ads
  • Direct mail ads
  • Outdoor ads (e.g. billboards)
  • Email marketing ads
  • Newspaper and magazine ads

As you can see, visual ad design encompasses many different kinds of ads, but your approach should be the same for all of them. Whether you’re designing digital ads or print ads, it’s important to use best practices to tell the right story.

Design elements

The design elements are all the moving parts that go into a visual ad. They include the font, the color choices, the ad copy, the call-to-action, and the imagery or graphics. They can also include the format, alignment, scaling, and negative space.

The approach

The approach encompasses the design principles you use. For instance, simple ads perform better than busy ads, so be mindful about how much copy and imagery you use. Contrast can make your product and logo pop – and that can be color, line, or font contrast.

Using patterns and repetition can help you catch your audience’s eyes and highlight your value proposition. You can use a visual hierarchy to highlight the ad’s key point by using a larger font size or placing key elements higher in the image.

That’s just a quick overview of what ad design includes. You should still follow best practices while designing campaign ads since those practices will help your campaign succeed.

The 5 best practices for designing ads for campaigns

1. Know your goal

What do you want your ads to accomplish? In other words, what’s your CTA? Figure out early in the design process what you want the viewer to do after seeing your ad. Are you hoping to get them to buy a product or contact you for a consultation? The goal of the ad frames the rest of your process for ad design.

2. Have a structure

Put a specific format in place that you want to follow for your ad. This gives you a framework for the rest of the design process. Your ad format probably depends on where you’re going to publish the ad – for instance, Facebook ads and Google ads have their own specific formats. Know where you’re going to publish your ad ahead of time so you can follow best practices for that platform.

3. Be brand-consistent

Your ads should be unmistakably on point with your brand. If you have a brand kit that includes preferred fonts, color palettes, and design directions, put it to use here. If you don’t have that, then it’s time to put one together. It can be a simple document that aligns design with your brand and logo. It will come in handy for far more than just ad design.

4. Choose minimalism

Less is more when it comes to ad design – you don’t want your message and CTA to drown in busy imagery and too much text. Keep your word count concise and edit, edit, edit so every single word serves a concrete purpose. Have the same perspective when you’re putting graphic or photo elements into your ad: be mindful of purpose and if there isn’t a good reason to use it, it gets cut.

5. Use flexible sizing

Choose flexible ad sizing to ensure that people can view your ads easily whether they’re using a tablet, a smartphone, or a PC. There are standard ad sizes and specs that you can utilize to keep the sizing flexible. Some sizes that perform well on all screen sizes include:

  • 300 x 250 pixels (medium rectangle ad)
  • 336 x 280 pixels (large rectangle ad)
  • 728 x 90 pixels (leaderboard ad)
  • 300 x 600 pixels (half-page ad)

These sizes are recommended for flexible sizing because they can automatically resize to fit most available ad placements. For the best results, limit your sizing to these preferred dimensions.

Get answers to your questions about ad design

When you have questions about ad design for your campaign, it’s always best to ask the experts instead of struggling through it on your own. Talking to an expert can get you valuable insight into what makes an ad well-designed, especially if you’re not a design specialist yourself.

At Model B, our team of world-class creatives is always happy to talk to you about your ad’s creative assets. We’ll help you drive growth with scroll-stopping ad campaigns that represent your brand and speak to your audience. Contact us today to start winning hearts and minds!