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Facebook Ad Design: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide (2020 Edition)

Published on
June 29, 2023
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Facebook ad design is is like art and science combined. It's also the hardest thing to get right, especially when you first get started.

How in the world do you get more people to pay attention to your ad when there are 6 million other advertisers on Facebook fighting for eyeballs?

You not only need to think about your audience & their buying stage, but also your message, choosing the right ad images, writing kickass copy, conforming to ad sizes & creating engaging visuals.

No wonder that even the most clued-up marketers constantly struggle to deliver ad creative that attracts and converts.

With the right guide at hand, though, this process gets a lot easier.

In this post, we’re going to share everything you need to know about Facebook ad design and how you can stand out.

Ready to dive in? Let's go!

Visual Facebook Ad Design is More Important Than Ever

Facebook advertising is tough. And it gets tougher every day.

If you can't create scroll-stopping creatives that grab the attention in a user's feed you're simply wasting your money (& your time).

But how do you go about creating engaging ads?

In a nutshell, high-performing ads have professional images, use emotional triggers and have a catchy copy that aligns with your key message.

According to Facebook's best practices, visual content contributes to 87% more engagement than text-only.

Why is that?

  • People want to see visual elements rather than text
  • Visual elements are easier to remember - they stick!
  • Visual content boosts traffic to your site as it's more likely to be shared

Here are some more stats for you:

John Medina, the author of Brain Rules, says:

"When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if the same information is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later."

Consumer Acquisition even found that images are responsible for 75%-90% of ad performance.

Hence, your ad image needs to rock!

How to Choose The Right Images For Your Facebook Ad Design

Your Facebook creative needs to represent your marketing message.

Courtesy to Digital Marketer

But you can't just create a design full of marketing fluff.

In fact, Facebook has always had an issue with too much text in images.

If your image (not the body text) contains more than 20% text, you will get a "reduced delivery", according to Facebook's official ad design guidelines.

Pro Tip: Use Facebooks's own text overlay tool to check if your image qualifies

Facebook Ad Design: Text Overlay Tool
Facebook's Text Overlay Tool

So now you understand the importance of visuals and that images can't contain too much text, it's time to explore various types of Facebook ads and it's image sizes.


Image Ad Dimensions For Most Common Facebook Ads

TLDR - Feel free to scroll down to the next section if image ad dimensions don't interest you at this stage.

Below are three of the most common visual facebook ads.

Don't worry, you don't need to remember any of these ad sizes. You can simply head over to the official Facebook ad guidelines and look them up.

Here's a quick summary, though:

Facebook News Feed Image Ad

Facebook Ad Design
Facebook News Feed Image Ad

The official ad sizes and specs for Facebook Feed Image Ads are:

  • Recommended file type: jpg or png (animated GIFs should be uploaded as a video ad)
  • Recommended image size: 1200 x 626 (1080 x 1080 for 1:1 images)
  • Optimal image ratio: 9:16 to 16:9 (without link), 1.9:1 to 1:1 (for lead ads, offers & event responses
  • Images should have no more than 20% text
  • Text: 125 characters (if there's no link)
  • Headline: 25 characters (any more will truncate)
  • Link Description: 30 characters

Facebook Carousel Ads

Facebook Carousel ads allow you to feature images (or videos) of multiple products & services in one ad. Users can swipe through the various slides to see the different items.

Autopilot's carousel ad is a great example:

Facebook Ad Design - Autopilot
Autopilot Facebook Carousel Ad

The official ad sizes and specs for Facebook Feed Image Ads are:

  • Recommended file type: jpg or png
  • Recommended image size: 600 x 600
  • Optimal image ratio: 1:1
  • Images should have no more than 20% text
  • Minimum 2 cards and max of 10 cards per carousel ad
  • Text: 125 characters (if there's no link)
  • Headline: 40 characters (any more will truncate)
  • Link Description: 20 characters (optional on Instant articles)

Facebook Story Ads

Facebook story ads allow you to showcase three images within a single ad, each with its own link. They're great because they give you lots of vertical real estate to showcase your products or services.

Facebook Ad Design - Stories
Facebook Story Ad

The official ad sizes and specs for Facebook Story Ads are:

  • Recommended image type: jpg or png
  • Minimum image size: 500 x 500
  • Optimal image ratio: 1.91 to 9:16 max
  • Minimum & Maximum of 3 cards
  • Text: 125 characters
  • Images should have no more than 20% text

Remember to leave 250 pixels at the top and bottom of each slide as this is where the profile image and call to action will be displayed.

Let's move on.

How Does A High-Converting Facebook Ad Creative Look Like

Rule number 1: "When choosing images, don't go for the cheesy-looking stock images showing businesspeople shaking hands."

Just kidding, it's kind of obvious.

Again, it's all about getting the value proposition right and connecting with your ideal audience through the right message & the right emotions.

Here are some rules:

  • The Big Idea: This can be conversational, fun or thought-provoking, emojis welcome
  • Short & Sweet: Make your ad headline short and sweet and be to the point
  • Create a Vibe: This is the most important. Make it relevant and project the lifestyle you want your ideal customers to long for
  • Action-Oriented CTA: Uses a verb to hint at what you’re going to get when you click.
  • Create Urgency: Use 2-3 sentences in your ad text to get more into detail and create urgency

More of a visual type (no pun intended)?

We created a little cheat-sheet you can use 👇

Facebook Ad Design Cheat Sheet
Cheat Sheet For High Converting Facebook Ad Design

Additional resources: This guide is for beginners. If you want to learn about Facebook ad designs secrets, check out this guide by AdEspresso

Hold on, we're not at the end yet.

The best way to showcase some awesome  Facebook ad designs is by showing examples, right?

Let's do that now!

4 Outstanding Examples of Facebook Ad Design

The are a trillion facebook ad examples available to check out online, but that's not what we're here for.

And that's why we hand-picked four examples for your inspiration

#1 Slack's Facebook Ad Design is Short, Tangible & Quirky

Facebook Ad Design - Slack
Facebook Ad Design Slack

Visually, this Slack ad features a woman riding a pink unicorn which immediately stands out in any feed. The contrast of the playful image alongside the simple, straightforward copy catches the attention of the person scrolling through the feed.

Slack gets to the point addressing the main benefit in a tangible way - reducing meetings by 25%. A snappy, and memorable tagline "Slack: Make Work Better" doesn't need much thinking to understand its value.

#2 FreshBook's Facebook Ad Design Goes Niche

The visual in this ad displays a situation most of us find ourselves every day (our workstation, accompanied by a large cup of coffee and mobile phone), which makes this ad super relatable.

Facebook Ad Design - FreshBooks
FreshBooks Facebook Ad

The colors used in this ad stand in contrast with the color of the feed. About 62 - 90% of people assess a product or service based on color alone, according to research. It just shows how important it is to pick the right color that stands out.

Additionally, the tag line "Online Accounting Software for Non-Accountants" will certainly exclude accountants, but it will also address a niche audience of people who will clearly identify themselves as "accounting is not expertise".

You can't please everyone, can you?

#3 Eventbrite's Facebook Ad Design Triggers Emotions

B2B does not stand for boring to boring.

Eventbrite's ad shows people at a concert & sparking emotions of fun and belonging.

Facebook Ad Design - Eventbrite
Eventbrite captures emotion

But you don't always need to limit yourself to positive emotions. Depending on your core message and your value proposition, you can explore playing with emotions of melancholy, surprise, sadness or happiness.

#4 Sumo's Facebook Ad Design Talks Numbers

No one says you need to limit your Facebook ad design to imagery to boost click-throughs. Infographics or other visual representations can work nicely as well.

Sumo uses a diagram to show its website growth someone can experience when using Sumo.

Facebook Ad Design - Sumo
Sumo uses stats to convince & convert

Wouldn't everyone want website traffic growth like this 😮?

The guys at Sumo did a great job portraying the outcome when using their software.

Mentioning something that your target audience definitely wants (viral growth) and then offering the perfect solution to achieve that goal (Sumo) is a great formula.

The diagram visual is plain & simple, and never over-engineered, for everyone to easily understand.

Can you spot how Sumo also sprinkles a tiny tad of social proof to give people just enough motivation to hit that Sign Up button?

Nice work!

Facebook Ad Design: Choosing The Right Colors

I get you, you might have strict brand guidelines that also include the use of color.

But color can also be a useful tool to stand out, without being too far off-brand.

Remember, your goal should always be to design your ad so people stop scrolling through their feed.

Promo - Choosing the right color

We won't get too much into color theory, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Use colors that are opposite the Facebook blue, like red or yellow
  • Adding a colored border around your facebook ad image can double its CTR
  • Purple is the favorite color of 23% of women, and 0% of men
  • White background can also be a great way to differentiate your ad in the feed
  • Test, test & test: A/B Testing different image variants is key

Talking about testing, being successful in Facebook ad design means you need to constantly tweak, test & analyze your creative.

Hence, it's best to always design multiple versions of a Facebook ad, which brings us to the next point.

Who in the hell is doing all these designs?

Facebook Ad Design Services: How To Get Your Designs Done Professionally

You might be great at building and growing your business, but you probably suck at designing.

Luckily, you're not alone.

Besides services like Upwork & Fiverr where you can hire design freelancers, you can also opt for unlimited graphic design services.

These services can not only help you with your ad creative, but they can also design all of your other marketing assets like blog headers, web banners, t-shirts or sales brochures.

Wrapping Up

Pulling off Facebook ad design from scratch is difficult.

There are so many factors that go into creating a high-converting Facebook ad campaign. Your ad needs to have a strong, emotional, motivational and cohesive design.

Always remember to keep your audience in mind and test different Facebook ad design strategies to see which perform better.

There are so many factors that go into creating strong, high-performing Facebook campaigns.

The targeting, the copy, the offer, the bids, and even the placements all have to be right. Even if they are, however, your ad can still fall short if they lack strong, motivational, cohesive designs.

Combined, these 22 tips are the most effective ways to design killer Facebook Ads that we’ve learned over the last 10 years.

Remember to keep your specific audience and goals in mind when designing your Facebook Ads, and to thoroughly test these different design strategies and tips to see what your audience is most responsive to.