Fgo card design guide (1.16MB) - [PDF Document] (2024)

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The Card Design Guide Book2


Introduction 2

ID Card Anatomy 3

How to Design an ID Card 4

ID Card Gallery 18


Welcome to our step-by-step guide.

If you have been charged with

designing ID cards for your

organization, you have an

important responsibility.

Creating an effective ID card design

involves more than meets the eye.

However, with a little planning and

consideration of the best practices

discussed in this guide, it will be an

enjoyable experience.

After reviewing this simple step-

by-step overview and our gallery of

existing ID cards, you’ll be ready to

begin — or enhance — your own

design. Creating dynamic, effective

and secure ID cards has never been


Good luck!



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Technology Card FeaturesHolographic overlaminate

Smart chip contacts

High Definition Printing (HDP®) Film

Technology card top

Proximity antenna

Smart chip antenna

Technology card bottom

The Anatomy of a Secure ID Card


Holographic overlaminate

Smart card contacts

Custom background photography

Over-the-edge High Definition Printing™

Custom graphic design

Customized Card Features

A secure ID card is more than a name and a photo. It requires visual security elements to protect itself from tampering and forgery. Technology cards include embedded electronics, antennas and smart chip contacts that usually affect card design.

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ID card program objectives will strongly influence your ID card design parameters.


The Card Design Guide Book4

Define the parameters of your ID card design

Creating an effective ID card design involves

more than meets the eye.

That’s why this first step is so important. You

need to understand the objectives of your

organization’s entire ID card program.

While designing a visually attractive card is

also important, it’s secondary to designing a

card that helps:

o Enhance physical and logical security

o Increase efficiency and productivity

o Reduce vulnerability to counterfeiting

o Reflect the organization’s brand identity

These objectives will later help determine the

parameters of your card design.








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At the beginning of your process, consider talking with an expert in card identity systems. Whether your cards are designed to protect your organization or promote it (or both), authorized Fargo integrators are an excellent resource to help you define and achieve your objectives.

Here are a few questions about ID card objectives to help you start defining the parameters of your ID card design:

o How many employees, contractors and visitors do we have? Will we have separate card designs for each?

o How many different areas of our organization will interact with the cards? Will we need different levels of security clearance for each?

o Does our card design need to comply with any government regulations?

o How will we verify and authenticate the identity of each cardholder?



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The Card Design Guide Book6


Determine the level of visual security you will need on your card

A color photo on a plain white card just

isn’t enough anymore. Today, anyone with

a computer can create a legitimate-looking

ID card with ease. Proper card design can

help reduce your vulnerability to counterfeit

ID cards. Incorporating holographic

security elements that are difficult to

forge, yet easy to authenticate, should be

the first consideration in a secure card

design. There are choices for every need

and budget, from basic elements such

as a simple foil to sophisticated solutions

such as custom-designed holographic


An authorized Fargo integrator can be an excellent resource for determining the security elements in your next card design.


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Holographic overlaminates can contain an off-the-shelf holographic design, or you can create a custom design for even greater security

— and brand enhancement.

The starting point of any secure ID card design is a 300 dpi color photograph. From a design perspective, the larger and more vivid the photo is, the easier it is to authenticate the cardholder.

Holographic foils and images, like those found on credit cards, may be applied to a card’s surface or embedded below its surface for even more security.

Holograms can be loaded with high-tech, layered security features from microtext and fine line (guilloche) designs to optically variable devices (OVDs) like animated morphing imagery.




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The Card Design Guide Book8


Determine the technologies that your ID card will have

The card technologies your organization

uses will influence your card design.

They will also affect the selection of the card

printer/encoder you’ll use. But you can still

create a great-looking card, if your design

accommodates technologies such as:

o Bar codes

o Contact and contactless smart cards

o Proximity antennae

o Magnetic stripes

Whether on the inside or outside of the card,

these technologies can alter surfaces and

make printing any design more challenging.

Cards with embedded electronics like smart cards or “clamshell” proximity cards will affect your design and the type of printer that you will use.


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HOW-TO STEPSAchieving an effective ID card design involves three layers: functionality, security and graphics. When making decisions about these elements, it is smart to involve the experts, whether they are your security personnel, ID card system integrators or graphic designers.

Do you plan to utilize a bar code in your operations?

Remember to allow adequate space around it to ensure trouble-free scanning. Also, if your bar code is printed on a background color, be sure that background color provides sufficient contrast for scannability.

Designing a card with a magnetic stripe? Remember that some elements like this have fixed positions on ID cards.

The electronics inside proximity cards create an irregular card surface. For consistent image quality on prox and other technology cards, consider using High Definition Printing™ technology.

Most traditional direct-to-card printers can’t print tightly around smart card contacts without risking damage to their print heads. High Definition Printing Technology prints up to the contacts’ edges, and over the card edge for a high-quality appearance.





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The Card Design Guide Book10


For maximum effectiveness, explore both

portrait and landscape orientations.

There is no one right answer. As you arrange

the graphical elements of the card around the

technology elements (which usually can’t be

moved), ask yourself questions such as:

o How will the card be best displayed and

most used?

o Where do the electronics on the card fall?

o Will the card need a hole punch for a clip

or lanyard?

o Is there critical information printed on the

card that, over time, might be rubbed off

because of swipe abrasion? If so, consider

adding a protective overlaminate.

Determine your ID card’s orientation and layout

Don’t forget! If you’re going to have a lanyard hook directly onto the card, you’ll need to allow for a hole punch in your design. Don’t get caught with a hole in your organization’s logo.


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Divide your card into a grid and place fixed elements (i.e., smart card contacts, magnetic stripes, visual security elements or punched holes) into position first. You may decide that the back and front require different orientations for security.


Many companies utilize both orientations as an at-a-glance verification aid. Fully functional vertical cards are worn by full-time employees. Less functional horizontal cards are worn by visitors and short-term contractors.


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The Card Design Guide Book12


Select graphics and a type face for your card

When designing your ID card, keep in

mind that it’s more than just a security

device and functional tool — it’s also an

extension of your organization’s image

and brand. An attractive and professional

card will reinforce the right message about

your organization and its employees. And

because a well-designed card is more likely

to be worn, it will go a long way toward

ensuring the effectiveness of your entire

card program.

Get a quick preview. Fargo’s card selector online tool is a great way to visualize different layouts of technology cards. Just visit:hidglobal.com/cardselector


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Bright colors typically work best. Dark colors can adversely affect readability. Likewise, pastel backgrounds can look washed out.

A textured background minimizes flaws in the card surface better than solid backgrounds.

Contrasting colors are often used to indicate different levels of access or security clearance.

The cardholder’s photo is typically the primary feature. That’s why it is important to use images of at least 300 dpi and to make the photo as large as possible.

A good type face promotes easy readability for fast and accurate authentication. A “sans serif” font works best.

The use of only one or two fonts is suggested. Too many fonts can make a card difficult to read.

Online stock photo companies can be a valuable resource for desiging professional-looking cards with dynamic imagery.





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The Card Design Guide Book14


Print, encode and laminate your ID cards

Now that you’ve invested the time to

develop a custom design for your ID cards,

it’s important to choose the right card

printer/encoder to help bring that design to

life. If your card has simple magnetic stripe

technology, or no electronics technology

at all, consider traditional direct-to-card

(DTC®) printing technology. If your card has

embedded electronics, or if image quality

is of the utmost importance, consider High

Definition Printing™ (HDP®) technology.

Regardless of your card design, there

are numerous printing, encoding and

laminating options available to meet your

on-demand needs.

Visit hidglobal.com/compare for a side-by-side comparison of reliable printing, encoding and lamination products that can help bring your ID card design to life.


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Knowing the components and capabilities of your card identity system will help you design a card that uses the system to your best advantage. t

How would your new design look on a High Definition card? As their name suggests, High Definition printers provide the best print quality available in today’s desktop card printer market. From plain photo IDs to high-security technology cards, HDP technology helps designs jump off the card.


Advanced ID card printers not only print cards, they can encode multiple technologies and laminate them — all in one pass.


A holographic overlaminate lets you add a graphics-rich design layer to your card that substantially improves card security and durability.


Card issuance software can improve the efficiency of creating and producing ID cards, and managing card issuance.


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The Card Design Guide Book16


Test the image quality and functionality of your ID cards

Ensure a successful introduction by

performing comprehensive testing

prior to a large-scale implementation.

Identifying any performance issues at this

point will save significant time and money.

Things to double-check:

o Is the image quality consistent?

o Is card data successfully read at all


o If you’re using the cards to track

activity, is that data being accurately

transmitted to your systems?

Congratulations. Once you’ve tested your

ID card system at all points in the process,

you can proceed with confidence.

Does your color, imagery print as you had planned?Take the extra time to make it right. You’ll be looking at your ID cards, and the design on them, for a long time.


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Testing your card design with the printer you intend to use will ensure that it won’t present any surprises during mass card production.

Your new ID card will bring a heightened level of security, productivity and efficiency to your organization.

Fine tune the imagery to your liking via graphics editing programs and your printer settings.




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Creating dynamic, effective and secure ID cards is something every organization can do.

While no two organizations are exactly

alike, many share similar goals and

challenges when it comes to securing

assets and increasing productivity.

Let’s take a look at some sample cards in

the ID Card Gallery. They may offer the

creative spark you need to improve upon

your own unique solution.


The Card Design Guide Book18

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fitness factorybaxter high schoolglobe labs, inc.hayes countymonroe university axess internet, pllc.garfield high school armstrong high school fitness 4 life health clubmount view universityenvironmental services agencyoakfield school district blue wave software, inc. mckinley airportclub physiquemedia wide publishingwilsonmayertriad manufacturing companymetro transitstaff pro


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The Card Design Guide Book20

COLLEGE & UNIVERSITYMOUNT VIEW UNIVERSITY: A highly regarded liberal arts university

MVU students and staff have convenient and speedy access to library and media center materials as well as recreational equipment — all thanks to a convenient scan of a 2D bar code.

A student’s identity and tuition account balance — read via the card’s smart chip — must be verified before they are allowed to register for each semester’s classes.

Mount View University was able to offset some of their card printing costs through a sponsored partnership with FastBank. The card’s magnetic stripe offers students and faculty access to FastBank self-service kiosks throughout campus.

Students’ identification numbers are used to authenticate the user in legacy campus facilities that do not yet have advanced card-reading equipment.

What better way to reinforce its reputation as one of the nation’s most prestigious and scenic campuses than by choosing a custom holographic overlaminate to go over a background photograph of its renowned Mount View Park.

Key Concerns: financial transactions, facility access, fraud prevention, brand enhancement

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The card’s bar code is scanned at the beginning of each class to automate the school’s attendance tracking. In emergencies, this can provide vital logistical information to responders.

A large student photo helps staff instantly verify individuals as students of the school.

With a simple swipe of the magnetic stripe, students can pay for their lunch, check out library books and access athletic facilities after school.

Vivid, colorful graphics enhance and reinforce the school’s image. Plus, the students love to show their school colors.

The card serves as a durable and reusable ticket to all school sporting events and other activities.

The Mustang’s principal and student council agreed their code of conduct should be on every card.

Key Concerns: cashless cafeteria, attendance tracking, school pride, book and equipment tracking

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The Card Design Guide Book22

Varying security clearance levels are communicated to security personnel via a prominent color-coded system on the front of the card.

The card’s smart chip allows virtually up-to-the-second security clearance changes for facilities and network access as events warrant.

A large cardholder photo on the card front and faint duplicate monochrome image on the back are an easy and effective way to deter counterfeiters who may only get a look at the front of an ID card.

The crisp, colorful graphics of the American flag are designed to add a level of patriotism and pride for cardholders.

The use of several technologies on a single card — one- and two-dimensional bar codes, a smart chip, optical stripe and antenna — are used to interface with both new and legacy systems in facilities of varying sophistication.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENTU.S. SECURITY DIVISION: A highly secure government agency

Key Concerns: regulation compliance, legacy system interoperability, security clearance levels

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The magnetic stripe facilitates tiered access to the building’s floors. Employee access to individual floors is restricted to their appropriate security clearance level.

Proud of its role in the waterfront redevelopment initiative, the Hayes County Government Center was eager to use professional photography of its new building on its ID cards.

The county used federal Homeland Security funds to augment the security of its card identity system by adding a custom holographic foil to the front of its cards.

Visitors to the restricted levels of the center can only be admitted with an escort and verified employee photo and signature.


To increase safety following an intruder incident in the government center’s previous location, the county mandated photo IDs for all employees — from judges to janitors.

Key Concerns: access control, security clearance levels, reputation enhancement, public safety

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The Card Design Guide Book24

LARGE CORPORATE CAMPUSWILSONMAYER: A global high-tech engineering conglomerate with multiple divisions

The card’s magnetic stripe can be reprogrammed to allow temporary access to facilities during long-term projects.

All elements of the identity card, including the smart chip are FIPS 201 compliant — ensuring that WilsonMayer is approved for work with government agencies at all levels.

A customized holographic overlaminate provides a sophisticated layer of security and protects against UV light — helping to protect the firm’s investment in several thousand cards.

The victim of a recent industrial espionage incident, WilsonMayer incorporated biometrics and a smart chip to control employee access to sensitive floors of its headquarters. Note the visual identification of color-coded security clearance.

WilsonMayer incorporated marble pillars into the background of its cards as a subtle nod to the firm’s extensive experience working with government agencies.

The complex “turbine” hologram around the WilsonMayer logo reinforces the company’s origins in the space engineering field.

Key Concerns: ultra-high security, card durability, government compliance, access control

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Triad Manufacturing is committed to providing our customers the highest quality product possible through our skilled and dedicated employees, our patented products, and our state-of-the-art manufacturing processes. Triad employees will serve our customers with the highest level of professionalism and technical knowledge in the industry.


Field employees scan their bar code at the beginning of service calls to initiate a client project tracking system at the corporate office.

Triad opted for a tamper-evident holographic foil as a cost-effective deterrent to card counterfeiting.

The recent merger yielded a new mission statement now proudly shown on the back. Every employee carries an ID card, and therefore, every employee carries the mission.

The use of a large company logo on the front of the card plays an important role in reinforcing the company’s new brand identity following a corporate acquisition.

Swiping the magnetic stripe before using copy center services automatically tracks the subsequent costs to the appropriate cost center.

Key Concerns: job and time tracking, inventory control, card security, brand enhancement

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The Card Design Guide Book26

HEALTH CARECHILDREN’S HOSPITAL: One of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals

A smiling face and the use of animal shapes on the front of the card help provide a measure of comfort for the hospital’s young patients.

New patient-safety measures require caregivers to scan their card’s bar code and then the patient’s chart before administering drugs. That information is then transmitted to a central patient database.

The card’s custom holographic foil not only provides a strong measure of security, it’s often a starting point for communication between hospital staff and shy patients.

The card’s colors and simple design were chosen for their ability to communicate the hospital’s pediatric focus.

The magnetic stripe restricts floor access and reduces unwanted traffic through intensive-care units of the hospital.

The hospital’s CEO requested that the hospital’s mission statement be included on the back of the card “as a daily reminder of the importance of our mission.”

Key Concerns: access control, security, data tracking, brand enhancement, patient experience

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The club chose to include a custom holographic foil on the card as a graphically appealing way to protect against counterfeiting and reduce fraud.

The magnetic stripe facilitated the introduction of silver, gold and platinum membership levels which provide access to special sections of each facility.

As the new kid on the crowded health-club block, Fitness 4 Life aggressively looks to reinforce its brand and mission with existing members and prospects.

A sign-in /sign-out bar code tracks the use of individual memberships and provides the club with valuable information used to initiate member-retention strategies upon periods of non-use.

The magnetic stripe links to individual member profiles and provides positive reinforcement and encouragement to individuals on the workout machines as they approach their fitness goals.


Key Concerns: attendance tracking, equipment access, fraud reduction, brand enhancement

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For more information about card identity systems that can enhance your ID card design, as well as make your organization more productive and secure, contact your authorized Fargo integrator today.


This brochure is for informational purposes only. Fargo Electronics makes no warranties, expressed or implied, in this summary. Company and product names and data used in sample output are fictitious. Specifications are subject to change without notice. Fargo Electronics is certified as meeting the requirements of ISO 9000:2001. High Definition Printing and UltraCard are trademarks, and HDP, DTC and Fargo are registered trademarks of Fargo Electronics, Inc. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective companies. This is not an offer of sale.

© 2009, HID Global. All rights reserved. SL1454-REV08A

CorporateNorth America Tel: 1 800 237 7769 Tel: +1 949 732 2000

Card IssuanceCenter of Excellence Tel: 1 800 459 5636 Tel: +1 952 941 9470

Asia PacificTel: +852 3160 9800

Latin AmericaTel: +52 477 779 1492

Europe, Middle East & Africa Tel: +44 1440 714 850

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