How to Make a Banner Ad

So you want to know how to make a banner ad? Luckily, you’re assumption that banner ads take hundreds of hours of graphic arts and programming training is dead wrong. In fact, with just a few minutes of practice using a simple, free design program, you should be able to put together a functional, good looking banner ad in no time.

What You’ll Need

When learning how to make a banner ad, you’ll need to download at least one simple software program. You could go out and spend hundreds of dollars on Photoshop, but why? Unless you plan on becoming a full time designer or have the extra cash laying around, Photoshop is a bit overpowered for our needs.

Instead, head over to and download the free photo and graphic editor Paint.NET. The software has been around for a few years and provides all the basic tools you would get with a $500 copy of Photoshop, though without some of the bel

How to Make a Banner Ad with Paint.NET

When making your banner ad, first start by setting the canvas size. You can start with a set size such as 468×60, which is a fairly standard horizontal banner. However, there are any number of other sized ads that you can use, including block ads at 250,250 or long form ads at 60×960. Alternately, you can set the size at double or triple the dimensions so you have a higher resolution to start with. This will ensure that any high quality images scale down properly when uploaded to your site.

Once you’ve set up your canvas, you need to lay down a graphical base. A background can be simple, and monochrome or much more complex with a series of images. However, whatever you end up doing, make sure it is singular, doesn’t flash and doesn’t do anything else too fancy.

Most banner ads are almost entirely text. This is for good reason. You need potential visitors to get some information out of your ad. Unless you’re trying to setup a viral campaign or build a brand, image only banner ads will only confuse your readers and send them elsewhere. Images should be used to augment your text, not replace it.

Make sure to use complementary colors as well. Any program that shows you how to make a banner ad will outline how these colors catch the eye. Red is a fantastic color and can be powerful when paired with red or yellow. Blue and orange work very well together, as do yellow and purple. Avoid color combinations that are hard on the eyes like red and blue or green.

The ultimate design decisions for your banner ad are up to you. Many banners will have some form of simple animation which can work well to draw the eye. I recommend you minimize how much animation you use, however. Lots of moving images and flashing can actually send someone off the site completely.

Faster Design

If you’re not fond of building your own banner ads from scratch, there are alternatives. For example, you can use XHeader or XHeader Pro. This software will allow you to choose from dozens of templates, add shapes and text and put animations to work for a website header. Technically, the software is designed for headers, but some quick dimension adjustments will allow you to make a banner easily enough. And if you’re not interested in learning how to make a banner ad, don’t forget the option to outsource.

There are services like which will flip around a very simple, $20 banner ad in less than a day or two. Just remember that a banner ad, whether made by you or a pro needs to be high quality and eye catching. When you learn how to make a banner ad, remember that you want to make sales, not drive people to another site.