Business Card Design and Data Entry

I recently returned from the Convergence 2007 conference in San Diego. At such events one acquires a neat little stack of business cards. I finally got around to entering them into our CRM system the other day and I had some interesting observations.


Firstly let me just say I love my CardScan. It eats up those little cards at a decent rate and the OCR is reasonably reliable. The CardScan is a very popular piece of kit and most serious sales people own one (they work with Microsoft CRM and some of our competitors). However it seems that people love to design insane business cards which the CardScan has some troubling coping with. I don’t blame the CardScan: I blame the business card producer. Some areas which I found problematic where:

· Company slogan where the company name should be.

· Overlaid graphics which plays havoc with OCR.

· Insane text layouts (strange justification, portrait instead of landscape etc).

· Non standard phone number formatting.

· Non standard card shapes. This was by far the most common and worse ‘feature’.

Manual Data Entry

I opted for a mix of Card Scanning and Manual Data Entry as I wanted to have the ‘full customer experience’. I found many business cards extremely inefficient for manual data entry. Frequently I encountered cluttered fonts, small font sizes and the worst offender: white text on a light gray background. After a couple of dozen cards I found myself entering more data in the system for the cards with better usability and only the bare minimum for the crappier cards. Consider this: after I enter your card (with as much info as I can stand to enter) I shred it.

Business Card Suggestions

Here are some simple suggestions for those of you about to design/re-design your business cards:

· Landscape layout.

· Standard Card Size with square corners.

· Use a single font for the entire card.

· Keep your logo away from the text.

· Make the font as large as the card can handle.

· Do not use a narrow font (eg. Arial Narrow).

· Use bold and italics with caution. A bold company name is bad. A bold or italicized URL is not.

· Test your prospective card with an OCR device.

· Place complex ancillary logos (eg. Microsoft Certified Partner) on the back of the card.

· Create at least twenty fake cards and practice some data entry.

· For multi-lingual cards do not mix languages. Use one side for one language and the reverse side for the other.

· Format the mailing/physical address using the standards set down by your country. Most of the cards in my ‘stack’ fail to meet these standards. Examples: Australia, USA.

· Place some text on the back of your card which describes your role. Charlie Wood, one of our ISV Evangelists does this. His card was a ‘hit’ at Convergence.

· If you are going to create a ‘sexy’ card then really make it sexy. Don’t do half a job. The sexiest cards I ever say were from a printing company back in Australia. Their cards were a mix of transparent text and holograms. Now that was sexy. Steve Wozniak’s Metal Card is sexy. Putting rounded corners on your card: not sexy.

Form Layout

Performing a business process ‘for real’ vs. ‘designing a process’ always brings up new subtle revelations. I redesigned my contact layout a couple of times creating an optimal pattern. This is what I ended up with. For some reason we use the Last Name, First Name full name concatenation rule. It drives me nuts as Microsoft is a very informal company where we typically refer to people by the first name or their email alias (eg. Bill or BillG). You will also note that I have removed the Salutation and Middle Name from the form. Since we aren’t using this DB to conduct marketing I found these fields to be redundant. It is trivial (<1 minute) for me to re-add to the form if a user requests it. Since my name is on the form an internal user can make this request quickly and easily.


BTW: The persona drop down matches our Persona Model. Essentially it is a form of arbitrary contact segmentation.


Overall I found that the usability of a business card had a profound effect on my impression of a person/company. Are your cards getting the impact they deserve?

Philip Richardson

Comments (13)

  1. Neil Benson says:

    Hi Philip, nice post. A couple of other improvements might make Microsoft CRM even easier for frequent contact creators. These are some of the requests I hear most often from my customers:

    1. All-in-one screen. It’s relatively straightforward to create a Lead and then convert it into a Contact and Account, but this is tiresome for mass-inputting. A combined Account and Contact entry screen is better.

    2. Better address normalisation. Microsoft CRM stores two sets of addresses on the Contact and Account entities, which drives me nuts. All addresses should be normalised into a separate table. When you create a new Contact at an existing Account, the system should ask you which address they work at.

    3. Drop-down country list. Using a text field for the Country gives rise to all sorts of mis-spellings and variations. Creating a Country picklist is a very common customisation request, but it shouldn’t have to be.

    Otherwise, keep up the good work.


  2. Fancy business cards are a temptation for every business owner. Lately, I’ve received business cards

  3. Tim Long says:

    Fancy business cards are a temptation for every business owner. Lately, I’ve received business cards

  4. "Putting rounded corners on your card: not sexy."

    For sale: box of 1000 business cards (957 remaining), new in box. Read "Matthew Wittemann, Microsoft CRM Consultant"

    C’mon, Philip! I like the rounded corners! Granted, I can’t use them to un-stick that cardamom seed from between my teeth after eating some curry, but they slide in and out of your wallet easily…

  5. Pessoal, todos sabem que a apresentação conta muito na vida de um profissional de informática. Nos dias…

  6. Very nice info and tips from your side. Business card plays a very vital role in uplifting your business.

    I want to add some

    Should have a authentic email

    Should add Some Color for attraction

    always leave the back blank

    quality should be great

    font should be good and attractive

    These five tips helps you in printing quality business cards.

    Thanks for posting such nice information. really it helps.

  7. john merle says:

    Great post, useful for me, thanks.

  8. Kapinder says:

    Thanks for the nice tips given in this post. Although I know a few of them. But still a good post to read.

  9. Data entry says:

    Nice post. Your work is appreciated.

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  11. Data Entry says:

    I missed lot of your suggestions in my business card. I appreciate your tips and follow it on my next business card. Thanks.

  12. plastic printing says:

    Great post. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which ought to do the trick.

  13. Data Entry Services says:

    Very nice info and tips from your side. Business card plays a very vital role in uplifting your business.

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