Imagine spending thousands of dollars on a terrific television ad campaign, only to discover that your target customers don't own TV sets. That's approximately what happens when companies create banner ads that confound viewers' hardware, software, and/or Internet resources. This checklist will help you ensure that your banner ads match the technical capabilities of your audience.

Design for Popular Browsers and Connections
Effective banner design starts with recognizing the limitations of the tools that will put your ad in front of your audience: browsers and Internet connections. Unless you are targeting a highly specialized niche market (such as Web developers), you'll want to design a banner ad that is fast to download and easy to view on the most common connection types and browsers. Use this checklist to determine which banner ad technologies are appropriate for your intended viewer.

Design within Standard Banner Ad Specifications
Banner ad design is evolving. As with anything else related to the Web, there are few hard-and-fast rules. However, Web advertising "pioneers" have discovered a few best practices, largely through trial and error. So why not benefit from their experience by following these guidelines in your own banner ad design?

Make Sure that Banner Ad Style Meshes with Audience Sensibilities
So you've researched your target audience's technical sophistication, and you've decided which technology you can safely and effectively use in your banner ad. This is a great start, but there's still something more you should know about your audience: their sensibilities. What appeals to them visually? What lingo do they use? Do they respond to hard-sell tactics, or are they alienated by them? Answers to questions like these will dictate the style of your banner ad, the wrapper around your carefully chosen technology.

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