designing ads billboard example

4 Things to Think About When Designing Ads

Designing ads, whether it is for social media, email campaigns or banner ads online, is something you will be asked to do a lot. There are a few core components of these design requests that you need to keep in mind to keep your ad designs as effective, and beautiful, as possible. Balancing the marketing mission with glorious design is part of the fun, so let’s get cracking.


As in all aspects of design for marketing, you need to keep the objective of the piece at the centre of your mind when you are designing. It is too tempting as designers to make things look cool (after all, that is what we do) but doesn’t convert it is unlikely to keep your clients coming back for more.

designing ads mission

Keep the messaging used clear and concise, ideally with a single focused message shining out. This helps prevent confusion and makes it more likely viewers will take the desired action.


Depending on your design’s intended destination, the size of your ads will vary. Designing ads that work in their final environment (most likely a social media feed or on a website as a banner ad) is crucial to making sure they are a) seen, b) effective and c) high enough quality to look swish, but not impact the loading time. You can find an excellent set of dimension guidelines here, or get the specifics from your client before you begin.

designing ads billboard example
Photo by Paige Muller on Unsplash

Content & Elements

Understanding the psychology of colour, font and imagery has all be covered in this blog, but keep a reference guide handy when you are beginning to plan out your designs.

designing ads example planning
Have a plan in mind when designing ads

What is the intended feel of the ad? What emotions do your clients what to inspire and more importantly, what actions do they want viewers to take upon seeing the ad? Think about the composition of the photography and image elements used and how they interact with the text and colour schemes. Is there any negative space that could work with text for example?


Keep it simple, stupid

Every Designer Ever

When using colours in ads remember not to over do it. Like fonts, stick to a restricted number for maximum efficiency and keep in mind the connotations certain colours have. It is also fun to have a play with the contrast of the elements on your design, will your message be more effective with high contrast or are you going for something more subtle?

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