18 Design Tips For High-Performing Facebook Ads | Happy Nine To Five

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

18 Design Tips For High-Performing Facebook Ads

Successful Facebook ads are based on one principle: a visually compelling ad design delivered to the right audience at the right time. While targeting a finely tuned audience is essential to achieve your advertising goals, it is the ad's design that will ultimately cut through the noise and get your message across.

Your ads should not only be relevant but also visually appealing to your users, to stand out in their News Feeds and motivate them to click through. In this post, I will walk you through some design principles that can easily be applied in your Facebook ad designs, and what it takes to create a high-performing ad that compels and converts.


Currently, there are over three million businesses advertising on Facebook all over the world, each of them telling a different story and vying for the same space and attention in our News Feed. With so much competition from other advertisers, it is becoming increasingly more important to bring emotional intelligence to your online advertising, and design campaigns that will stand out, have a great impact and motivate the user to learn more about your offering. 

That's where ad images come into play. Your ad design can virtually make or break the campaign. It is the single most important element that can affect your ad's performance. You will need to create a compelling design that showcases your business proposition and highlights the benefits for the user while motivating them to click through and ultimately convert. 

In order to do that, you will need to identify your ideal customers, create highly personalized value propositions, and apply some core design principles that have been proven to deliver high-performing and visually compelling ads.


1. Set goals and create buyer personas. Start by choosing an objective for your campaign and design your ads around it. Don't underestimate the power of storytelling - there is so much competition out there that you will need to create a compelling ad that tells a great story. Once you've defined your main objective, start thinking about who your ideal customers are, and create buyer personas for each of them. You might need to design specific ads for each of them, based on their needs and what you can offer.

2. Use eye-catching images. You should always invest a bit more time in curating the best images for your Facebook ads. Whether you use stock photography or you create your own graphics, having the right image is pretty much non-negotiable if you want your Facebook ads to be successful. People are drawn to images that seem out of the ordinary and different to what they're seeing in the News Feed, so use funny images that show emotion and use contrasting colours to grab attention. Photo filters can make a simple image stand out, and blend in more easily with the rest of the content in the News Feed.

3. If possible, use images with people. Adding a human element to the ad design can increase the click-through rate because people are naturally drawn to photos of other people. Most of us go on Facebook to see what our friends and family are doing, so an ad showing people using your product (instead of just the product itself) will blend in much more nicely and won't come across as an intrusive ad. This approach works particularly well for B2B businesses, whose products or services are typically harder to advertise. Choose images with smiling people, ideally looking back at the camera - eye contact is incredibly powerful. A flash of red somewhere in the image would make the ad stand out even more.

4. Use high-resolution images. Depending on your chosen ad format, there will be different technical requirements you will need to pay attention to, but you should focus on always using high-quality images for your Facebook ads. You can find recommendations for all ad formats and advertising objective in the Facebook Ads Guide here.

5. Show a positive emotion. As mentioned earlier, you will need to use visually compelling images that convey positive emotions to motivate your users to click through. Think about your average customers and what their pain points are, and how you can address them through your ads. Focus on creating a genuinely positive and non-intrusive experience for your users and engage them emotionally through your ads. Even if they don't convert straight away, they will remember your ad and you have a much better chance of retargeting them later on.

6. Or a negative one. While the majority of Facebook ads have a slightly positive tone, instigating a negative emotion can be particularly effective if your ads are raising awareness about a real issue, such as animal cruelty or charity causes. This will create a sense of urgency and convince the users that something needs to be done, and ultimately determine them to click through.

7. Create visual contrast. Creating visual contrast is one of the easiest ways to catch the user's attention. While it is known that people respond to different colour combinations differently, our brain is naturally drawn to contrasts and elements that seem out of the ordinary. You can use contrast in many different ways to emphasize certain elements of your design, such as black typography against vibrant orange or yellow tones, or placing a brightly-coloured product on a white background.

8. Make sure the design has a focal point.  Every design needs to have a focal point to attract viewers and guide them to the main purpose of the design. In this context, the focal point can be a graphic, product shot, brand logo, fancy lettering or a distinct call-to-action. For example, you can use black-and-white illustrations to make a brightly coloured photograph stand out. 

9. Maintain a visual flow. Once you have defined your focal point, you need to make sure that your ad design is structured in such a way that your viewers' eyes can navigate the layout easily. In design this is known as visual flow. You can achieve this by using repeated patterns to make the design feel cohesive, and leave plenty of white space between design elements so they don't look cluttered.

10. Balance your design elements. Just like visual contrast, symmetry is another visually appealing aspect of design that can easily catch your viewers' attention and motivate them to click through. Unbalanced design elements can be off-putting and divert attention from your ad's message. The easiest way to use symmetry to create a perfectly balanced design is to make use of white space and make sure your design elements are nicely spaced out to allow your viewers to navigate the ad easily.

11. Use a harmonious colour scheme. The way you choose your colour scheme can have a tremendous impact on how your ads are perceived. Ideally, you will want to stay clear of clashing colours or unusual colour combinations that can hurt the eye. Fortunately, you don't need to be an expert in colour theory to do that - there are plenty of tools, such as Adobe Kuler, which can provide you with beautiful colour schemes to use in your designs. 

12. Use fonts that work well together. Facebook allows you to add a little bit of text on your ads to enhance your message and offer further proof to your viewers that they should click the ad. If you decide to make use of the limited text space available (which should not exceed 20%), it's important to choose fonts that work well together. Combining one serif font and one sans-serif font typically can be a good starting point. Any fancy fonts that are too overpowering could easily distract your viewers from your ad's message. 

13. Include a clear Call-to-Action. Use a call-to-action button to emphasize product benefits and tell the user what they have to do once they click the ad. This is especially important if you're asking them to do something more complex, like filling out an online form or making a purchase. If a user knows what to expect after clicking the ad, they are more likely to convert. Over time, a strong call-to-action could improve your overall conversion rate and reduce your cost per conversion.

14. Add social proof. Further to the call-to-action button, adding some sort of social proof would build trust with your customers and reassure them that you're advertising a trustworthy product. If you've already got a large following, showcase that in your ad design or copy (e.g. "Join 100,000+ customers who use Dropbox"). 

Have you ever wondered what's the most powerful emotion in our decision-making process? It's fear. It's human nature to be somewhat scared of making the wrong choice, missing out on a good opportunity or wasting money on a product that's no good for you. That's why adding social validation is crucial to reassuring the user that if a lot of people are already confidently using your product, they'll most likely be happy with it too.

15. Include a logo. People interract positively with brands they know well and trust, so don't hesitate to include your logo in your ad designs to convey your message and add a bit of authenticity. Placing a logo within your Facebook ad image helps the product resonate with the brand, which in turn builds customer confidence and motivates the user to click through and convert.

16. Create consistency. Your ad's design, copy and landing page should always be consistent. If someone clicks your ad, something in your ad's creative has caught their attention, and the landing page should underline the same message you shared in your ad. Maintaining consistency will definitely improve your landing page conversion rate and consequently reduce your cost per conversion. On the other side, an inconsistent landing page could make a user lose interest or doubt that your message is genuine. 

17. Use carousel ads for a more personalized experience. This format works particularly well for e-commerce and retail brands, who often need to display multiple products within a single ad. This typically requires minimal design effort and it's incredibly effective as you can give customers more options to navigate through and over time improve your click-through rate. Read more about the Facebook carousel ad format here.

18. Test different designs. Finally, take time to experiment with different ad formats and designs before you decide on the best-performing ad creative. Take into account the different ad placements you are going to use (Desktop Newsfeed, Mobile Newsfeed, Right-hand column, Instagram, Messenger, etc.) and always preview your ads to see how they are going to look across all platforms.  You can read more about all the different Facebook ad placements here


Once you have identified the best-performing ads, be prepared to optimise frequently - Facebook ads have a very short lifespan and unlike AdWords, showing your ad continuously to the same people wouldn't work, ad fatigue would quickly set in and the cost per conversion would be driven up by users who are not taking any actions. 

Keep an eye on your ad freauency as this is the metric that will tell you how effective your ad design is. When the frequency goes up and your ads start under-performing, consider changing your ad creative or target audience. Your Facebook ad design, no matter how good it is, it's not going to work forever, so be prepared to make changes and adjust as necessary.

These are just some of the things designers, marketers and advertisers consider to create visually compelling content. Knowing what images to use, what fonts are easy on the eyes, and what a colour combinations work well together will make a significant difference to ad design process.

If you need more inspiration, you can have a browse through AdEspresso's Facebook Ad Gallery, an extremely useful library with over 68,000 examples of Facebook ad designs.


1 comment

  1. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe that this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, Thanks for sharing! Facebook Marketing Expert


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