One of the major things I have noticed that could need improvement among newbies on Etsy is the design of the shop banner. Since I went to art school, I inevitably took some graphic design classes, and I am constantly using Photoshop for one thing or another so I hope I can give some advice to those who might not be graphically inclined.
The design of your banner is very important, it is the first impression people get of your shop, it shows them what you sell, and most importantly your creative style. If you have a banner that is not well done, or that is not accurate to your shop, it could put a buyer off. So having a good banner is a must!
First the Do's and the Do Not's
1. Include your shop name
I cant tell you how many times I have been to a shop to just see a plain picture of something for a banner, or nothing at all. This is your chance to show people who you are! Make them remember the name of your shop! If your name is prominently displayed it will sick in your buyers heads.
2. Include pictures of something you currently sell in your shop!
Do not use out dated pictures, they give the wrong impression to the buyer. If your banner is old and shows a picture of something you no longer sell then its time to update! And please never show pictures of things you never have and never will sell in your shop, thats just not doing anyone any good!
If you have these first two things you are off to a good start! But making a good banner doesn't stop there, there are a few design no nos that you will have to remember in order to make a good impression with your buyers.
1. Never scale up an image to fit the size you need!!
If you find an image that you want to use but it is smaller than the size of your banner, it is NEVER acceptable to scale up your image. This causes the image to become blurry and pixelated and that never looks good! Find high resolution images that you can scaledown to size in order to ensure your images look good. If your using google images to find pictures you can change the search options to only display images that are medium to large size, those should be adequate for use on your banner.
2. Use a font that is readable, and clear!
Choosing a proper type face is a very important part of graphic design, and it has a big impact on how people view your design. There are lots of cute fancy script types out there and I'm sure that they are just adorable, but you have to remember the purpose of your banner is to clearly display who you are and what you do, if your font is too small or two complex it may be hard for people to read and that is not what you want!
3. Never make your text multi-colored or any bright color
Alternating colors on text makes the words extremely hard to read, red text is also hard to read on computers since the color red bleeds very easily. If you want your text to be any color besides black you need to have a background that is light enough and neutral enough to not clash with your text.
4. Choose one type face and only use one
Once you have found a nice type face stick to it, don't confuse readers by using more than one! If you have to use two, never use more than two.
5. Do not compress your image.
A banner that is 760 x 100 pixels at 72dpi should have a small enough file size to be able to save out at 100% quality without compression and still be within Etsy's requirements for file size. When you are saving out your file from your software make sure you check your settings and deselect any boxes or any setting that mentions compression. In Photoshop its very easy to save out an image at 100% quality but I have noticed in other applications sometimes it compresses automatically when saving as a .jpeg. If you are noticing that your file size is still too big then check your resolution, since this banner is for the web it should be no more than 72dpi, you may have opened the document with a default setting of 300dpi which is used for printing. Compressing your image is another thing that can cause your banner to have poor quality, it makes the banner look pixelated and blurry. If you find that your image looks great in your software, but bad when you open it after saving this is probably your problem.
Now that I've pointed out some of the big mistakes I see most on Etsy I want to try and explain some basic design rules to those who might have never heard them, once you take these things into consideration your design sense will become much better!
Focus: You can draw the buyer's attention to important elements by using contrasting size, colors, and position.
Directional Flow: The way you organize your text and images effects the way people view your design, this is important to remember when creating your banner.
Negative Space: The space where there is nothing can be just as important as the space that is filled, make sure you pay attention to the way images and text align with eachother and don't forget your negative space.
Kerning and Spacing: You can adjust the amount of space between letters, this is called kerning, some fonts create uneven kerning simply because of the way they are programed into the computer. Always try to even out your kerning and always make sure your letters never intersect each other. Spacing is the amount of space between one line of text and the next, this can also be adjusted and the same rules apply, even and never touching.
Text on Background: Use color and type carefully. Contrast, separation, and vibration are all important issues that effect readability. ( as I mentioned before)
Audience: Remember who you are marketing to, your banner is for the buyer not for you so think about your audience when you think of your design.
Image Editing: There is not a single picture in a design that is straight out of the camera, if you take your own pictures or even if you find them on the web remember there are lots of things you can do to adjust the image. Play with the brightness/contrast of the image, adjust the hue/saturation. Change the opacity (transparency) of the image. There are lots of things you can do to your pictures to better integrate them into your design.
There are many many many more aspects to design than I have mentioned here but hopefully after reading this you will be able to make an attractive banner for your shop that will be clear and easy for buyers to read and look great at the same time!
If you have any questions on how to do the things I have mentioned please ask! I can help you especially in Photoshop to find any tools or menus you may need.
If you still feel you are unable to make a good design, whether because of time or lack of proper software, please feel free to ask me to help you! I don't mind making banners for people if they need me to! Anything to help a fellow crafter!