Creating an effective business card has a lot to do with the layout of the card. Layout is more than choosing whether you want your card to have a vertical or horizontal alignment. Spacing, opacity, shape, color--these choices all play a role in layout and in the visual impact of the business card.
What Goes on the Card
Before you start designing and laying out your card, decide what information is going to go on the card. Usually, it is some combination of the following: name of the business, name of the individual, title of the individual, email address, physical address, phone number, fax number, web address, slogan, business description, logo or services offered. Trying to cram every element onto one card is a bad idea. The more elements you include, the more likely your card will look cluttered. Limit yourself to the necessary elements. If you run a web-based business, there is no need for a physical address. Generally, you are going to need your name, the name of your business, your preferred contact method and something about what you and/or your company do, such as "Writer," "Real Estate Agent" or "Web Developer."
Arranging Your Type
Most of the information on your card is going to be text. Creating perpendicular text is one way to set a business card apart. On a horizontal card, include an element of vertical text, perpendicular to the rest. Do the opposite for a vertical card.
Group similar information. Place the contact information together. Put your name next to the title you hold. Grouping information in this way helps the brain assimilate the information easier.
Use fonts that are easy to read for essential information. Save the more difficult-to-read, creative fonts for labels such as "Phone" or "Address," since recipients will already know what those words mean. In this way, the label becomes an image element, creating visual interest and emphasizing the legible text that it supports. Alternatively, omit the labels altogether unless they are necessary for comprehension, such as distinguishing a fax number from phone number.
Working with Non-Text Elements
Make the logo semi-transparent and use it as the background element for the card. Let it go off the edges a little bit to add a dynamic feel. If you don't have a logo, group different shapes (lines, circles or squares) for the background.
To make a contemporary card, avoid pictures altogether and use colored lines in the foreground to add visual interest, as shown in the image.
When adding non-text elements to the foreground, understand that the larger the element, the more prominence it takes over other elements on the card.
Try to use your non-text elements to emphasize the text. Lines leading to the edges of words serve as emphasis for those words, much the same way as an underline does. Text bounded by symmetrical, small images is also emphasized.
Consider white space as another element of the design, as opposed to an absence of an element. Thinking of it that way will often yield a better, more visually connected result.