Invoices are our bill collectors. When we design our invoices well they don’t just collect payments. They communicate important information and build better relationships with our customers as well. So when you are creating an invoice, there are is more to keep in mind than what you’re owed.
If you aren’t sure how to begin creating an invoice or redesign your current invoice to improve its effectiveness, it can pay off to look at how others design theirs. While there is not one format for invoice design, some designs are more clear and useful than others.
First, gather up examples of business invoices you and your company receive. Get online and review sample invoices on various websites. Study all of them, and make note of what works and what doesn’t. As you do your review, ask these questions:
1. Which invoices are easiest to understand? What features make them more usable and useful?
2. How do they communicate important information like emergency phone numbers or instructions for online bill payment?
3. How do they use charts, graphs, and other visuals to illustrate information?
4. Where and why do they use spot color?
Make note of ideas that you might want to utilize in your own invoice design. After your new invoice design is mocked up, have several staff members and valued customers review it. This sort of evaluation can be invaluable. These reviewers are likely to notice things about your invoice that are confusing or unclear. By tweaking your design to remedy these problems, you will end up with a better invoice.
Here are some other points to keep in mind as you design or redesign an invoice.
Your logo is your brand and should be used in all of your communications. A well-designed logo at the top of your invoice sends several messages. For one, it says that your company is a highly professional and serious about business. It helps a customer quickly identify who the invoice is from. From a practical standpoint, a logo also can make it easier for a customer to locate your bill among the many invoices they receive.
Your logo is one aspect of your invoice that should be printed in color, but there are other parts of a bill that can benefit from the use of four-color or spot color. Using color is an effective way to draw attention to the most important pieces of information, especially for the amount due and date due. A tinted box might be used for messages that change month to month or are personalized to the customer. The most popular spot colors are blues, reds, and greens. Blues convey stability and trust; reds have been shown to spur action. Whichever color or colors you choose to use, you’ll find that next-generation color inkjet printers like our WEBjet 200D printer make it possible to now add color to invoices without having to preprint color shells and letterhead.
Another good way to use color is in charts and graphs that allow customers to compare things like their utility usage compared to previous periods, or show year to date expenses. This kind of information helps educate consumers and sometimes spurs them to take action like insulating their home, investing in programmable thermostats or fixing a leaky faucet.
The first page of your invoice should be simple and straightforward. Focus on making the most important information clear and easy to grasp. Here are the basics to include:
Some think of invoices as basic and boring, but there is arguably no document where thoughtful graphic design is more important. To create an invoice that is effective, you must use a typeface that gets good ratings for readability and make sure that the font size is good for reading.
Invoices can also relay valuable information to customers. Their bill can be itemized so that they know exactly how much they pay for what. If they receive an invoice each month, say, for a utility like gas or electric, an invoice can be used to show how much their utility use has changed month-to-month. If an invoice is for a medical expense, it can include health tips that might prevent them from landing in the emergency room or from getting the flu. An invoice can also outline the steps to take to sign up for online bill pay systems or for autopay through their bank. Moving more customers to these payment options saves money.
Again, use color or a tinted color box to spotlight the multiple ways customers can reach your company or have their questions answered. If your company has a portal that allows customers to access their account, include instructions for accessing it. Include numbers for emergencies, for customer services (including hours of operation) and for pay by phone.
In business, can we ever say thank you enough to our customers? Your invoice can double as a thank-you note. An enthusiastic “Thank You!” or “We value your business” or “We love doing business with you!” shows you appreciate your customers and the business they bring.
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