This is a very popular question. To answer it, I’m going to point you in several different directions because there are a few things you need to consider and remember as you make your banners and buttons.
First, please don’t forget that you should not use someone else’s artwork without their express permission. There are many sites that offer free or reasonably-priced artwork. We’ve listed a few of those sites already. In addition, Microsoft.com has lots of free clipart you can use.
Second, you will need some sort of graphic editing software. Unless you are a professional graphic designer, Photoshop is probably more powerful than you need (not to mention wicked expensive!). However, Adobe offers Photoshop Elements–a watered-down, but very functional version of Photoshop–for a reasonable price. PaintShop Pro (by Corel) is another way to go. You can download a trial version for free, then purchase if you like it. You can also use whatever graphics program came with your computer (e.g., Microsoft Paint).
If you just want a pre-made button with custom content, you can do that easily. This article lists a few sites to help you out. A word of caution: blinking, moving, crazy buttons are fun for you the first few times, but they are not crowd-pleasers. Try to control yourself. You’ll thank me later.
If you want to start from scratch, you’ll need to decide on the dimensions of your banner or button. Jules of Everyday Designs has written a post for us that is a good place to start. The standard for measuring graphics (i.e., banners and buttons) online is a pixel. The best thing to do is start with Jules’ article, try your own, and edit from there. It’s trial and error until you are used to working with graphics.
I have found two tutorials for you to peruse to get yourself up and running with a banner (just make the dimensions smaller or crop your image to make a button).
- The first tutorial is hosted at Design Mom and was written by Amy M. It has lots of screen shots and walks you through everything you need to know.
- The second tutorial is hosted at Etsy Labs. It’s not quite as thorough as the tutorial mentioned above, but I think you’ll get the idea.
A good size for a button is roughly 150×150 pixels. Most sidebars are about 200 pixels wide. If you want to ensure that your button works with most blogs, 150×150 should get you where you’re going.