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How to Design Facebook Ads that Work

Facebook is the home to billions of users and millions of advertisers. The Facebook ad space is a lot more competitive than it was five years ago. However, you can still get a great return on investment if you design your campaigns and your ad creatives effectively.

While there is a strategic approach to the campaigns themselves (more information on that here), this article will focus on – how to get more clicks & engagement with your Facebook ads.

Check out the Competition

If you go to your competitor’s websites and then go back to Facebook, the chances are that you will see some of their “remarketing” ads on Facebook.

You can also go over to their Facebook page, scroll down, and click the “page transparency” text on the left-hand side. Scroll down, and you should be able to see any ads that they are running. Chances are if they have been running the same ad for a long time, it has been performing well.

You can also make a note of any ads that you like. Just swipe and crop any time you see an ad that you like on your newsfeed. Keep all the advertisements that grabbed your attention in their own dedicated folder on your mobile and your computer. These can be great for idea generation.

High-Resolution Images

Clean and simple design do well. If you run an eCommerce website, then the quality of images on your website and all of your ads is vital.

There is no better way to sell a product than by putting it front and center! Facebook is full of low-quality images, usually of babies and gyms; make your advert stand out using the highest quality images possible. Clean, simple, but high resolution.

The Nike advert shown above is clean and straightforward. The color scheme is minimalistic – making it stand out against images that contain many colors – and the text is short and to the point.

If you are selling multiple products, you can showcase up to 10 images and products with a carousel advert format.

Colors Matter

Color has its science – color psychology. When we grow up, we start to associate colors with different emotions and different situations. Green represents nature; blue tends to mean intelligence to most people, and yellow signifies happiness.

Using a color wheel can be an effective way to choose a color scheme for your ads. The color picker or the color wheel is essential to use because colors convey your brand personality.

First, some color wheel lingo:

– Pure colors/hues – these are seen on the outer edges of a color wheel 

– Tints – are pure colors with white added to them

– Shades – are pure colors with darkness or black coloring added

– Tones – a variation of tints and shades are known as “tones.” Tones are pure colors with white and dark colors added to them

– Color Schemes or Color Harmonies – warm and cool colors are separated left to right on the color wheel. Warm colors represent heat and summer; cool colors are crisper and more cooler. Cool colors represent cleanliness, while warm colors represent coziness.

Color Schemes can be created using color wheels. Usually, you would look to combine complementary colors or analogous colors to create a color scheme.

– Complimentary colors – opposite colors on the color wheel are called complementary colors. Avoid using two complementary colors 50% each in your ad designs. Instead, go for an 80/20 split

– Analogous colors – these colors are aligned next to each other on the color wheel. Use one color as the dominant color and the others used as accents.

For more information on color wheel theory, see this great video from Visme:


If you are a business-to-business company, then sometimes, your imagery might be a bit dull! You can still, however, create attention-grabbing imagery with illustrations. Perhaps you run a phone answering company, and you have the choice between using images of phones or a stock photo that won’t grab anyone’s attention.

You can get a little creative by thinking of the emotions and frustrations of your target audience. Perhaps they get furious and frustrated with unwanted sales calls, or maybe they are exhausted from answering calls during the evenings and weekends. If you can’t find or create any attention-grabbing photographs, consider hiring someone to develop a set of branded illustrations of an angry businessman, an exhausted businessman, or get creative and create images of an angry chimp or cartoon character answering the phone. Remember that funny images can work very well, but only if they are in line with your brand!

Make sure your images and illustrations are always of high quality. Remember, your brand’s perceived value relates to the perceived professionalism and expense of your adverts and other media assets.

Faces Grab Attention

We have evolved to pick out faces. Whether it is to spot our mother’s face when we are lost or pick out a rival tribesman’s face in the forest or jungle, it’s important from an evolutionary standpoint that we can pick out faces.

For example, this study from Lancaster University has shown that display ads, using faces, grab users’ attention more than standard, text-only ads. In addition, people will tend to look wherever the person’s face is looking. For example, in a Facebook ad, it can help to have the face in the ad, looking towards the name of your brand, the call to action button or the product.

“Results indicated that relative to other conditions, the condition involving faces with averted gaze increased attention to the banner overall, as well as to the advertising text and product. Memorability of the brand and advertising message was also enhanced. Conversely, in the condition involving faces with mutual gaze, the focus of attention was localized more on the face region rather than on the text or product, weakening any memory benefits for the brand and advertising message. This detrimental impact of mutual gaze on attention to advertised products was especially marked for vertical banners. These results demonstrate that the inclusion of human faces with averted gaze in banner advertisements provides a promising means for marketers to increase the attention paid to such adverts, thereby enhancing memory for advertising information” Link to Study here.


Be sure to test your ads. Create 2 or 3 ads exactly the same, in the same ad set, but change the imagery. When you have enough data, compare the performance of each image side by side. Try and work out why one performed best, and then create another image for your ad that takes what you think worked well the first time. Keep testing and tweaking until your ads are performing amazingly well! Hopefully!