Creating accessible business cards

Posted by on 10th June 2013

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Oliver Smith for Vistaprint. While it focuses on creating accessible business cards, we think it’s a great guide for creating any document! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Business cardsIn this technological age, the humble business card is one paper-based commodity beyond digital replacement. Charged with the simple task of communicating the name, nature and contact details of your business, here we’ll look at how a few design tweaks can increase its accessibility to the widest possible audience. You know it makes sense!

Paper matters

Use

  • Uncoated matte paper.
  • Make sure it’s thick enough to avoid print on the other side showing through.

Avoid

  • Glossy, coated paper.
  • Glossy surfaces reflect light, creating a glare that makes text harder to read.

Font size – get the point?

Consider the font size that’ll make your text legible to most people. For example:

  • People with dyslexia prefer text of minimum 12 – 14pt.
  • Visually impaired people prefer text of minimum 16pt. This may not always be feasible so try to use at least 14pt where possible.

Font type – less is more

  • Avoid elaborate, decorative fonts:

Hard to read

  • Use plain, evenly-spaced fonts:

easy_to_read

  • Sans serif fonts are easier to read:

serif-sans_serif

  • Use a font that clearly differentiates between letters and numbers of a similar shape, e.g. 3 and 8, 5 and 6.

OpenDyslexic by Abelardo Gonzalez is a good example of the many open source typefaces available that have been developed by, with and for dyslexic people to make reading easier. It is free to download at dyslexicfonts.com

Font style – fortune favours the bold

Differentiate headings from other text by increasing the font size and / or making the text bold.

  • Avoid using underline: Confusing!
  • Avoid using italic: Distorted!
  • Avoid using block capitals: LOUD!

Contrast – it’s not all black and white

People with dyslexia find black text on a white background hard to read. White appears dazzling, like the glare of glossy paper. Visually impaired people, however, find varying shades of colour hard to discern.

The best compromise for all is:

  • Use dark but not black text.
  • Use a light but not white background; pastel shades are most suitable.
  • Avoid greens, reds and pinks as colour-blind people find them hard to distinguish.
  • Avoid images as backgrounds; they confuse the text.

Left alignment – the end justifies the means

By aligning text to the left it’s easier for visually impaired people to see where lines begin.

  • Avoid justifying text. The spaces between letters and words will vary, potentially confusing a visually impaired person as to where lines end.
  • Avoid vertically aligned words:

They are hard to read!

Conclusion

Taking these few minor design considerations into account will make your business cards, or indeed any document, more accessible. Thinking about what really needs to be included is likely to result in a clear and effective design, beautiful in its simplicity!

Created by Oliver Smith on behalf of Vistaprint.