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Q. What’s one piece of design advice for creating a banner ad people will actually click on?

1. Have a Clear Incentive
Juha LiikalaDon’t try to be too clever with your ad copy. Chances are, if viewers have to think for more than two seconds about what you’re trying to sell, then you’ve already missed the train. Offer a clear and tempting incentive on why they should click. Use language that your audience understands. Also, make sure there’s a design continuity when they arrive to your actual sales page.

Juha Liikala, Stripped Bare Media

2. Test It
josh weissIt’s tough to predict how customers will respond to an ad without testing it. Come up with a bunch of variations and test them. Once you see what’s working, come up with similar variations to try and beat the control. As you continue down this path, your metrics should keep improving.

Josh Weiss, Bluegala

3. Tell Them Why They Should Care
Dustin LeePeople are already skeptical of banner ads. You need to give them a powerful reason they should care instantly. Get to the point and use only as many words as you absolutely need to communicate your message.
Dustin Lee, Playbook

4. Make It Relevant
Ha PhanIf you want to design a banner ad that people will actually click, don’t make it look like an ad. Make it relevant. The ideal ad strategy is to integrate it with content strategy. For instance, if your content is about a skiing event, then provide sponsorships or ad widgets that enable users to book hotels for the event or purchase winter sporting goods.
Ha Phan, Porch

5. Make It Look Like Text
Nathalie LussierIf you keep your design clean enough, you can make the ad look as if it’s part of the website — almost as if it wasn’t an ad at all. The benefit of this approach is that people are more likely to notice and read the ad; this overcomes ad blindness. Therefore, they are more likely to click!
Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media Inc.

6. Feature a “Click Here” Button
Nicolas GremionSounds simple, right? But the kicker is a “click here” button works incredibly well. Simply telling people (and making sure they know they can) “click here” is often that little extra push needed to make them do so.
– Nicolas Gremion,

7. Choose Your Own Adventure
Andrew HowlettThe best banners are those that let users create their own outcome within the banner. Create an interactive banner that lets people make choices, preferably in a fun and engaging way. They’ll learn about your product along the way and have a favorable view of your business afterward.
Andrew Howlett, Rain

8. Know Your Audience
Thursday BramYou can’t make just one banner ad and hope it will work for every site you could ever imagine. You need to make sure that you’re creating an ad that will appeal to the specific audience you’re trying to reach. It’s not unreasonable to tweak your ad for every site you run.
Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

9. Collect Information in the Ad
Brett FarmiloeSome banner ads take you to another place, which makes users hesitant to click. Some banner ads collect information in the ad (like an email address), which eliminates the step of taking the user anywhere. If you can design the banner ad to collect information, you’ll most likely have a higher conversion rate. These ads are great to implement on your own website.
Brett Farmiloe, Internet Marketing Company

10. Be Startling
Seth TalbotYou have to stand out — period. Use language and imagery that is stark and simple and will jar the viewer out of his normal flow. He needs to see something that doesn’t blend in but also isn’t offensive or hard to look at. Find a way to use a viewer-friendly voice in describing a problem or a solution; don’t use a corporate-speak or jargon-filled one.
Seth Talbott, AtomOrbit

11. Offer Something Irresistible
Natalie McNeilWhen designing banner ads, first and foremost make sure it’s a beautiful extension of your brand. There are so many banner ads that look the same and use stock photography that everyone else uses. Hire a designer and do something different! Also, make an irresistible offer — preferably give something for free. Why should someone click? What’s in it for her, and what value are you offering?
Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

12. Have Multiple Ad Sizes
Michael SeimanDesign your ads in more than just the main three sizes. Using all of the seven standard sizes, as well as flash and HTML5 versions, gives more opportunity for you to test, see which ads are converting, and pump more money into the ones that are performing best.
Michael Seiman, CPXi