Make your own Banner
A banner is usually one of the first things that a reader or a visitor on your blog sees – regardless of where your traffic comes from (direct, search engines, etc.).
For obvious reasons, your website’s banner needs to be good, especially in terms of aesthetics. It needs to be well-designed and attractive. And at the same time, it needs to be unobtrusive and a good banner should never take attention away from the content. Moreover, a good banner is reasonable sized as well – so that some of your content always remains above-the-fold.
A good banner adds value to your blog, it’s appearance and aesthetics, and it’s content. Besides, a banner is a great place to provide your visitors with valuable information. Whether you’re running a blog in WordPress or any other blog-host, having a good banner is very important.
Before we actually begin the process of designing a banner, there are a few things you need to think about with regards to your banner:
1. Type: Decide what kind of banner you want. Remember that the banner needs to be a reflection of your blog, in the sense that it should provide visitors with an idea of what your blog is about in a matter of seconds.
2. Text: Decide what text you would want to put on your banner. Look at other websites and blogs in (and out) of your niche. Come up with a creative tagline for your blog – which goes beneath the name.
3. Size: Decide the width and height of the banner. Remember that the banner can either be full-width (stretches from left-to-right), or in-line with the rest of your blog.
4. Colors: Ideally, it should match the color scheme of the theme of your blog.
5. Flash or no Flash: Flash banners are animated banners that usually play an animation in a loop. They are bandwidth-heavy, and not easy to make.
6. Access to your website’s files: Last but not least, you’ll need to have access to your website and it’s files – either through FTP or the file manager in your web host’s cPanel. This is required in order to upload the banner once it’s been prepared.
Right, so here are ways which you can use to have a good banner header designed for your blog:
PicMonkey is a free picture editor that allows anyone to easily create a banner or a header within just a few minutes. Its super-easy and totally free to use, and the best part is that there are no downloads required – you can easily design your header online.
Here’s an excellent tutorial on how to design a banner for your blog using PicMonkey.
99Designs, as you may or may not know is an excellent one-stop-shop for any and all your design-related needs. As the website says, there are almost 250,000 designers on the website, ready to create dozens of designs for you.
The process is simple: you fill out an online design brief, detailing what you want to be designed, and how much you’d be willing to pay for it. This creates a contest, open to all designers on the website, for a maximum of 7 days (which can be extended for a little extra money). The designers submit their designs, and you can provide them with feedback so that they can improve their designs.
In the end, you choose the design you love best. The designer gets the prize money, and you get a banner of your liking.
Simple enough, right?
The best part is that since it’s a specialist website, you’re almost guaranteed to get a few good submissions!
3. Freelancer Contest
99Designs is good, but getting a good design on 99Designs can be a tad expensive. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more reasonably-priced, it might be a good idea to start a contest on Freelancer.com.
Freelancer contests function pretty much in the same way as a contest on 99Designs – crowdsourcing. You crowdsource your design by explaining what you want and set prize money, you get designs from freelancers, and choose a design that you like, receive your files and release the payment. Easy enough.
However, one good thing about a Freelancer contest is that you can spend a small amount of money too if your budget is limited. For instance, I ran a logo design contest last month with just a $30 prize and got some excellent designs.
Naturally, the more money you spend, the more designs you’ll get (larger prize money will interest more designers), and the better their quality will be (larger prize money will interest better, more skilled designers).
Depending on (a) the kind of design you want, (b) your level of skill and expertise with the above-mentioned programs, it might be a good idea to design your own banner on either Photoshop, CorelDraw, or Flash – depending on which of these design software suites you’re familiar with.
WiseBanner is a great set of PS action plugins aimed at both designers and non-designers, which help them produce static and animated banners, with only a few clicks.
In addition, here’s a great eHow.com article on how to design a simple banner header in CorelDraw.
If however, you’re unfamiliar with any of this software, it might be a good idea to hire a designer to work for you on either Freelancer, Elance, Fiverr or oDesk, for instance. Or alternatively, see point no. 5 below…
Did you know that you can design a great banner header for your blog on Picasa… for free?! If you’re not familiar with Photoshop or any other design-and-publishing tool/software (like me), Picasa – a free download by Google – may come in handy.
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