I am looking for a sort of Review of some work that I did for a contest (I didn't win).

Personally I think that the business cards look awesome.

I used graphics and such from the client's site. I am not going to blur anything because the information is readily available and I see the Business card as my work because I was not paid for the design.

I would like to hear about my use of Technologies, WhiteSpace, Symmetry, etc. , and what I could do to improve my graphics from here on out.

Some of the text on the front of the card looks blurred, I didn't create these with a high resolution because I didn't want the pictures to be humongous when I was uploading them.

What principles of graphic design am I overlooking?


Front of Bored Paracord's Business Card


Back of Bored ParaCord's Business Card


4 Answers 4


The big issue I see overall is a struggle to make contrast work but a hesitancy to actually push the contrast to a readable state. All the semi-transparent rectangles behind information make for a very unclear business card.

Be very careful when you find yourself wanting to put outer glows and drop shadows on text. This is sure sign that there's a readability issue. There really should rarely be a need to separate text from a background with a glow or shadow. When there is, it's an indicator that the contrast between the text and background is too low. For a business card, where conveying information is the paramount issue, low contrast is just bad design. I notice on every single line of text, you've got a glow in addition to the background rectangle.

The logo is just horrible - in both design and name. (Seriously? Putting "bored" with a question mark in your company name and logo? Bad idea) But I don't know how much you had to do with that specifically. Typically clients can supply the logo. If that's the case, you're kind of stuck with it. Unless you try and up-sell them a better logo.

For the front of the card, the frayed scrap of paracord is adding nothing to the card. Honestly, it looks like a piece of trash on a black background. It's not dynamic or intriguing in any way. I'd remove it entirely.

My personal pet peeve.... the social media stuff. Social media is a great marketing tool, but the urls for every single one of them are really not needed. If you are a user of any of the social media platforms you know that simply searching a name will find a company. So really, all you need at most are the icons and perhaps something like "Find BoredParacord on..." once. There's no need to have the primary domains, the icons take care of that. Truth is.... today there's little added benefit to the icons or listings at all. No one ever listed "Yellow Pages: 1.555.555.5555" as a phone number... people know where to find companies if interested.

In addition, it's also a pet peeve of mine to list all the social media URLs but not have a listing for your own domain?? I, personally, don't place much stature on any company which only has a facebook or twitter page. If they don't have their own domain, they aren't serious. Now, the lack of the specific domain may have been an oversight on your part (it does exist). But it should always be part of the information on any company stationary. (I also feel lack of any mailing address has the same connotation - we're not a real business - but that's my opinion.)

For the back of the card, I'd agree with @DA01, the grenade is the most compelling thing about either side of the card. I'd move it to the front of the card. It also appears as though you "squished" the photograph vertically to make it fit the card.... don't do that! If you need to reduce, reduce proportionately. In addition, after a quick Google search, there are better images to use for it. For example....

enter image description here

Assuming you have permission from Greg Pastore to use the image

That yellow highlight is a fantastic element to play off. Set the type in the same bright yellow on a fatigue-green background and it'll pop for certain.

(Note there's also a grenade with a hot pink highlight which would work wonderful as well, but it may be a bit too feminine for some of the guys in the company.)

I'd also suggest not using the back of a card unless it's specifically designed as needed. For example, simply placing the logo and the paracord grenade on the front, then have all information on the back (without any photos).

Take the colors from the photographs you use... the yellow, greens, whites, and blacks. The reds and blues you used are not in harmony with the photography you used. The company doesn't appear to be set on any specific branding colors (they are all over the map). But as a designer, it's best to narrow that focus down to colors which are harmonious and solid when conveying information. You don't want 5 different shades of "blue". It tends to create chaos for the viewer.

A very rough mock-up with some random QR code on it....

enter image description here


enter image description here

Additional about the "contest"......

"Contests" are absolutely horrible ways to try and get work or exposure for a couple reasons. 1) There's never any feedback, as you've seen. There's no telling what the client did or did not like about your design. There's no way to know if you were "close" but just got edged out. 2) You're working for free, even if you do "win". The prizes for most of these "contests" amount to slave labor wages at best. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to avoid the "hey everyone work and we'll pay a winner 1/8th of what professionals want to charge!" avenues.

All that being posted... look at the winner.... what did that person do that you didn't?

  • This is perhaps meta in a horribly roundabout way, but font-identification for the font you’re using in the card? Looks really nice, but I don’t recognise it at all. Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 15:20
  • @JanusBahsJacquet -- Clan Pro
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 4:06
  • Oh wow—how in the blazes did I not recognise that? I've even used Clan as the contrast font in a book myself! Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 7:10

I'd start with 'lack of purpose'.

Take a look at each element and try to determine the purpose of it. There should be reasoning behind each decision made here.

Other issues:

  • information design: what does this company do? A simple explanatory sentence may go a long way here
  • decoration for the sake of decoration: why the shaded boxes? Why the color-glows? Why the type on top of an image?
  • lack of white space: give elements room to breathe.

If I may offer a suggestion:

Front of card: grenade background image (this is the most compelling visual element). On the left, list the company name, person and contact info in reverse type (white) left-aligned with adequate line spacing. I'd suggest a sans-serif face to better stand off from thebackground.

Back of card: Keep it sparse. White background. Smaller QR code. Add the 'vetran owned' info here and the social URLs.

Logo: See if you can omit it. It's not a very good logo.

Quick example:

enter image description here


Turning my first comment into and answer and expanding upon a few points:

The text on the first one is too difficult to read, especially the red text. The second one is better, but I think the text looks a bit cheesy on that one as well. I'm much more a fan of clean designs using minimal styles. For example, my drop shadows, strokes, glows, etc. are all just subtle enough to make the text stand out from the background but not draw attention to themselves (the styles).

I think there should also be more uniformity among the colors used (purple, red, gray, green...) it is a little too chaotic, for me anyway.

When I design cards, I like to keep the front very clean and simple (usually just the logo and/or a simple design, if I can) then place the contact info on the back, somewhat like you have already done. Maybe try flipping the card vertically and placing the chord grenade sitting on that sand paper looking surface with their logo above or below it.

For the back, I would ditch the logo (it's already on the front anyway) and also lose the purple chord in the back (it's not entirely clear what that is and the smudge tooling around the edges looks cheesy). Ditch the text boxes and play around with reformatting the text. If you really want the text to pop, try a lighter color - like white - instead of that red. I'd also say that if you can remove some of the social media things, maybe ditch YouTube and G+.

To me, it seems like it should read something like:

John Doe, Owner


John Doe

and then include his contact info. Having the company's name on the card three times seems pretty redundant to me, especially with the limited real-estate that the print size affords you.

When all else fails, Google image search and find some designs/layouts that you like. Don't copy them, but draw from them. A lot of the time, I never know what the hell I'm doing, until I play with ideas and see how they look. You discover things or see things incidentally as you experiment and sometimes the end result surprises you.

You can see the progression of a card that I did for someone a long time ago Here. It is not my favorite, by any means, but it is the only one that I have all of my revisions of - starting with the original concept given to me by the client and scrolling down to the final one. They wanted all of their info on the front of the card :/


I like the back of the card. The front was a little hard to read. It is pretty cramped and the contrast makes it worse.

I would also suggest to make the scan area smaller an put it in the top corner of the back. This would leave space for a notes area, which could be pretty useful for those people that have a lot of business cards from various businesses. With the notes area it allows the customer to write notes so they can destinquish one plumber from the other 7 they have in their wallet if that makes sense. Also depending on where you live, there may not be very many paracord companies out there to worry about this. Still, just a thought.

I will post some mockups when I get home if I can remember.

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