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Considerations Before Setting Up Your Companies Plastic ID Cards

Jan 16, 2008
Before you begin designing ID cards for your organization, here are four elements you should review before starting to layout your creation. After being in the industry for years and assisting in the design for thousands of companies we realize the many uses of an identification card. No matter what your reason for creating an ID card, these elements should at least be reviewed.

Portrait VS Landscape

The primary method of the card being used is the first thing to consider when it comes to the orientation of your card. You may want your cards to be worn at a specific event or function and if so, then a portrait card would best suit your staff. If you want your members or staff to carry the card in their wallet then commonly it's best to choose a landscape card giving you more room for personal information and lengthy titles.

If you want your staff to wear their identification on their jacket, lapel or worn on a lanyard, then it's best to use a portrait setup. Wearing a landscape card commonly gets in the way because of its width. Also, it doesn't seem to stay as upright and keep your staff looking as sharp. A portrait card hangs better simply because of the effects of gravity. Also when you want your staff to wear a card, you should consider what information you want to be displayed to the world on their credentials.

Personal Information

The amount of personal information that you place on your staff's identification cards should be limited to the information that you want the readers to have access to. If the card is going to be displayed or worn, then it's best to limit the amount of information to the individual's name and title. If the card will be carried in a wallet, then you can put more information on the card helping to either identify the individual with items, such as height, sex, and blood type.

If you are creating a card for a specific industry or to comply with the regulations for identification set by another organization then make sure you are following their guidelines. One example of this is police identification cards. Several states have created legislation that describes exactly what is required and these specifications must be followed. Another example is for organizations that do contract work for another entity. Commonly these entities have suggested some guidelines to follow. Be sure to check any requirements set by organizations such as these.

In a nutshell, we suggest that you limit the amount of personal information for your identification cards. The caveat is for people that need information in cases of emergencies such as police officers, fireman or any dangerous profession or industry. In these scenarios, we even recommend putting any specific medical information that would be beneficial in the event of a medical emergency. Alternatively, most people would not care to show the world their medical conditions at a trade show.

Back Side of the ID Card

The back side of the card can be used as valuable real estate that many do not use wisely. If the card is formatted in a landscape fashion, many organizations choose to put additional personal information about the carrier. If the card is going to be worn, then it can be used for the company's mission statement or the company's statement of purpose. Even adding the company's mailing address to the back of the card can be beneficial in the event of loss. We have seen the post office deliver cards just because someone dropped the card into a mailbox.

Other things we have seen this real estate used for are things such as important phone numbers, barcodes for job tracking or time clock tracking.

Other Uses

Before you begin to design your card it's best to consider what other uses you might be able to make of your companies new identification cards. There are time clock applications that can use the cards by adding a simple barcode. There are more sophisticated solutions that have to do with access control, but this commonly adds a much larger investment for the hardware to read the cards and unlock access to secure areas.

In summary, it's most important to start with the primary reason you need identifications cards for your organization. Their benefits come in many ways ranging from corporate reorganization and branding, to having critical medical information available for individuals in hazardous industries.
About the Author
Allen Richardson is the founder of Virtual Tournament Director, a company handling registration and ID cards for amateur sports participants around the nation, and http://www.fullidentity.com a company that provides similar services to the business community. He also serves as consultant to Southwest Airlines, Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway as well as several other companies in the United States. Additionally, he is the author of Personal Discipline: Tools for Consistent Success.
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