I was excited to start my own business. I love change. It was a new adventure, a new era, and I had a lot to learn.

Business cards, for instance. Who knew the subject could be so complicated!

My preferred style of design is fairly simple. I like the “clean” look. But I appreciate that people may want to put lots of information on their business cards because they want people to know as much about them as possible when they’re holding it in their hands. So, some people print two-sided cards. Some people get folded cards so they can quadruple their space and turn it into a small brochure.

Sometimes people want to stand out from the crowd, so they get a non-standard sized business card — a square one or a round one. They may get glossy business cards or have metallic accents added*. They may reverse out the type — print light type on a dark background.

How will these decisions affect you?

I’m at a networking meeting and I meet you and find you interesting. I want to make a note on the back of your card. Or I want to note

where I met you in case I don’t get it into my computer right away. But it’s glossy and my pen actually won’t write on the back of the card. Or, the back of your card is printed so there’s no room to write.

I have been going to networking meetings very regularly, and I come home with 15-30 business cards from each. I scan this stack through a card reader which runs it through OCR (optical character recognition) to turn it into text. Sometimes the non-standard cards can’t be read as easily.

Sometimes people have their e-mail addresses on the back. Or the logo and artwork take up so much of the card, that the vital information — name, phone number, e-mail address — is hard to read.

I hear you thinking, “I want my card to stand out — I don’t want you to scan it and forget about it.” I appreciate that you want your card to stand out. But I can tell you if it doesn’t scan easily, I might put it to the side to deal with later when I have more time, and when I get tired of looking at it, then I’ll throw it out. And since your round card doesn’t fit in my business card box, I may throw it out right off the bat.

When I was starting out in the graphics business, in my 20s, I would get frustrated with internal clients who always wanted the print material to have a larger type than I thought was needed. If I was told once, I was told 100 times, that our target audience was older, and they might not see as well as they used to. They just needed bigger type.

Guess what. I’m older. Tiny type is hard to read. Reverse type is particularly hard to read. Tiny type on a reverse background is impossible. I was given a card once that I studied under bright light with my readers on and I still couldn’t read the e-mail address that was printed in white on a dark red background. I handed it to a 20-something who also couldn’t read it.

When it comes to business cards, I’ve learned this: Keep it simple. You need a logo, your name, your e-mail address, your website address and how you can help people, in a few short words. If people want the rest of your story, they can go to your website.

*For the record, since my business is called Platinum Impact, I have added a metallic accent to the logo.