Dr. Banner – The Banner Doctor: LeyLines

Patient name: LeyLines
Age: Less than one year old.
Patient Origins: LeyLines is about “a brother and sister questing for truth. An ex-slave consumed by revenge and a guard captain with a terrible secret. A shadow monk who pays for his powers with his memories and a banished seer who sees visions of war. Secrets and riddles bind them together. Unraveling the will of the gods may be the only way to save their world — or destroy everything they’ve ever known.”
Patient History: The main goal of the banners is to “attract an audience, although building a brand is definitely a secondary goal. Currently LeyLines is very new, and based on analytics I’ve reached as far as my current network can go on its own.”
Banners presented for initial review: Three 160×600 skyscrapers featuring three different characters (see below).

Doctors notes:
Robin has featured characters in simple yet intriguing poses. The logo is prominent and uniquely displays the URL. The tagline is featured in banners as well.

Initial diagnosis:
These banners need to do a lot. They need to convey the mystery and complexity of the story while making the characters interesting and relatable, while communicating the plot. Overall, we’re not going to have to completely rebuild them, we’ll just need to help bring focus and build intrigue – give the person a reason to click thru. While I think the font for the logo and tag line are very hard to read, they support the style of the story and art.

Recommended treatment:
My first thought was to consider that since the comic is new, the title isn’t going to be the strength of what draws people in. So that should be moved to the bottom. I liked the visuals of the characters and with a little positioning and scaling, we can hopefully build intrigue. Let me show you what I mean.

The following banners are the originals. I chose one that “technically” features a woman floating in a mystic type of cloud. I know that because I researched the image and saw the original. I could say it really features a woman who looks distress with either a child’s sandal or fog machine in her hand. Obviously, I’m kidding but you could argue that a casual glance at the image could give you that impression.

Since I didn’t have the original artwork, I borrowed a part of this same image from Robin’s Deviant Art page. All of the originals are pretty basic and clean which is a great starting point. We’ve talked about moving the logo to the bottom, that gives us the header of the banner to feature the complex story line. I visited Robin’s “About” page and found a lot of great copy. I played around with the background behind the text because legibility should be given major consideration when you’re placing your text, ESPECIALLY with a font that is not easy to read. I tweaked the copy and added an invitation to the tag line, something that’s often overlooked or forgotten. It’s not a bad thing to invite someone to come check out your comic – that’s usually the reason you advertise!

Below are multiple images that hopefully convey a little of the progression.

The banner on the left was a little wordy, so I cut back the copy. In the center two banners, you can see how the head and taglines cross over for the two character banners. The last banner brought more of the mystery aspect of it so again, I dipped into Robin’s ‘about’ page for copy inspiration.

The images may need additional tweaking since I just lifted the low resolution web images to fill the open areas – and there is some bitmapping because of how I had to scale one of the characters. Robin may want to consider using different headlines based on the types of sites she’s advertising on. It’s best to keep testing these banners to see what works and what doesn’t.

Follow Up:
I sent the article for Robin’s review so I could add her feedback, which was kind – but she had additional questions that I thought I’d share.

Thank you for your input! I was really curious to hear your thoughts. I think you have a good point with moving the logo to the bottom, and I find the “call to action” that you chose interesting. I couldn’t figure out how to make a call to action — for some reason my brain wouldn’t grasp the concept!

I can see now what you mean about the font. In my previous batch, I tried the font I use for lettering, but that didn’t fit either. It seemed no matter what I chose, it would either be hard to read, or would clash with the feel of the story! What would be a better font to use?

I am curious about your choices on where you re-focused the images. What was the rationale behind the changes? I’ve also tried angling the images to give them more visual “drama” and movement — is this a good idea, or a bad one?

Thank you for taking the time to look over my banners!! Your insight is much appreciated!

First off, I’m glad I can help! Next, here are my replies to Robin’s questions.

Which font would be best to use? Really, that’s up to you since it should incorporate your vision for the comic – but here are some basic recommendations. The font you should use should be easy to read in a basic text format. Don’t challenge your viewers eyesight. I would look at a decorative form of a basic Serif or Sans Serif font. DaFont.com is a great resource for Free and Shareware fonts. Also, your site is dark so I would stay away from a thin font. Aldo on DaFont.com is a decent example. Another option is Google fonts. The benefit of using a font from there is that you could apply it to your site so you’re not generating graphics but actual searchable text (which is great for gaining additional organic traffic). I would recommend using a font with more than one style, but I only found two that I thought were interesting and might try to see how they look on your site: Voltaire and Aldrich.

Refocused images and the rationale: Using the art you had already employed, I was trying to build intrigue, pique the reader’s interest and trying to spark them to take action and click the banner. That being said, since you’re the artist, you’re unlimited in the art that you could use in that instance. I love the darker image with the smoke – that’s intriguing to me. Drama and movement is okay as long as you’re keeping it within the design of the banner. For instance, don’t have the character looking off the banner with the text behind them.

There you have it folks! Robin’s comic is full of mystery and intrigue, and unraveling. Plenty of unraveling. I’ll be interested to see how the updated banners do and whether she adds some additional tweaks of her own.

I’m always looking for volunteers to let me help them improve their ads and together we’ll ask readers for their feedback. If you’d like to volunteer your comic’s banners, send an email to rtswebmail [at] gmail [dot] com – make sure you put ‘Dr. Banner – the Banner Doctor’ as the subject. Not all banners will be reviewed, but I will try to get to everyone.

Ken Drab sporting the thin faced lookKen Drab (me) has a small brain but a savant-like interest in branding, marketing and design. He better, that’s what he gets paid to do in real life. In make believe – he’s a webcomicker.

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  1. I really like Aldo and Voltaire looks like a fair fit as well. Hmm…I may have to do some site over-haul as well. I like the BlackHole font, but it is just such a pain to read that I changed it on half of the site already. May as well be consistent!

    And is there anything that Google doesn’t make? I swear, in 20 years I’ll be buying intelligent Google mattresses that adjust their softness based on how I shift in my sleep to optimize the efficiency of my rest! Or fleeing from Google Terminator Spiders. One of the two.

    Thanks again, Ken!

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