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Designer’s Checklist for Display Advertising

A good list is always the trusty sidekick on a project here at our office. We front-load effort to be ready to execute quickly, without missing any details.  This list will do the same for you on your next display ad project. Remove any obstacles in the way of your creative process and watch your productivity blast-off!

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

― Alexander Graham Bell

Prepare

Gathering resources and information is going to make your decisions in the creative direction much easier. We’re trying to facilitate the efficiency of actions and focus effort on being productive instead of wasting time trying to find everything.

Goal
What are the specific goals you’re looking to achieve? Remember SMART; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Sometimes the creative process can meander around a bit so keep a clear goal to stay on track.

Completed?

Where – Placements, Targeting, Social
Determine where exactly your ads will be showing. Is the goal to place your ads on certain sites? Be aware of their design style so your ad doesn’t blend in with the rest of the page. Are you targeting an audience instead?  Define exactly who with a buyer persona and it’ll be easier to define targeting on Google Ads and Facebook.

Completed?

Audience (New, Current, Both)
The messaging will be different if your goal is new prospects versus offering a promotion to existing customers.

Completed?

Three C’s (Compelling, Concise, Clear)
Google recommends to always keep the three C’s in mind when designing ads. A clear message or call-to-action will focus your effort with laser-like precision and this distillation will go a long way in creating a compelling message.

Completed?

High-Quality Assets
High-quality ingredients help make the best meals. Quality assets will be critical for a well-designed ad.

Completed?

Value Proposition
Clearly define any value offers this project has before getting to work. It’ll be easier to reference and stay on track.

Completed?

Design

This is where the real magic happens – the work. Get to it and keep this list in mind!

Layered PSD File
Remember to layer your design files. Don’t use artboard.

Completed?

Flatten or Remove Smart Objects
This will help mitigate formatting issues.

Completed?

Font File Formats (.tiff, .otf)
Remember to have fonts in the proper file format.

Completed?

Sizing/Aspect Ratio
Certain sizes of Google Display ads deliver better results. Search engine marketing image ad sizes to design in are;

  • 728×90px — Leaderboard
  • 300×600px — Half Page
  • 300×250px — Medium Rectangle
  • 336×280px — Large Rectangle

Sprout Social has a great comprehensive guide to social media image sizes

Completed?

Brand Identity (Consistent experience to a landing page)
Keep a consistent experience for the user in mind. Stay congruent with landing page design elements and colour.

Completed?

White Space
Effective use of white space will be more effective at drawing attention to your message. Otherwise, you could run the risk of it being too busy and draw attention away from your goal.

Completed?

20% Rule (text vs image)
Facebook has a 20% text to image ratio rule. This is good practice for other platforms as well.

Completed?

Buttons (contrasting colours, etc)
Be tasteful with the colour choice of buttons or clickable elements. Use a contrasting colour to your image background but make sure it’s not an overly abrasive or loud choice unless it fits in with the brand.

Completed?

Clearly Defined Frame
Our eyes will be drawn into a framed subject. Where applicable try to frame a key focal point of your ad to make it more noticeable.

Completed?

Text Readability/Style (leading, kerning, tracking)
Be careful of font size and choice. Be aware of how the words in your ad flow as well. Adjust the typographic details, they’re important in making the text read and flow properly.

Completed?

Animation
Behaviourally, our eyes are drawn to movement. Case studies show that an animated online advertisement will perform better than static versions.

Completed?

Instill Urgency
Your call-to-action and value proposition should be phrased in a way that will instill a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). The urgency with limited offers or time restrictions are ways to get people interested.

Completed?

File Size Restrictions
Minimize file size as much as possible. Each platform has file size restrictions and worst case your ads will load slower than the placement content and people will have scrolled past your ad already

Completed?

Would you click it?
When everything is being finalized and final versions start taking shape, be honest with yourself. Would you click it? It’ll go a long way in stretching your creativity and abilities for better results.

Completed?

Go Forth and Create!

The ebb and flow of the creative process can sometimes leave a designer grasping. Creating anything can feel impossible at the worst of times and others, feel effortless. Factor in deadlines and uninspiring projects and you can be left wracking your brain trying to create something worth putting out into the world.

Faced with the expectation to create, most of us will have times where it feels like the mojo disappeared. These are the moments where the true professional will shine. Regardless of the circumstances, a pro will always find a way to deliver the goods.

You got this, now go out there and crush it!