Card backs provide valuable real estate for students in need
Valuable real estate
Determining what information to print on the back of the ID is only half the battle. The other challenge is figuring out how to fit all the necessary data within the confines of the available space.
Unlike the front of the card, where the entire face can be subject to a university’s design whims, the backs of IDs offer little in the way of unused space, posing a challenge when a university wants to print specialized content.
“You can only put so much legible information on a card given its size,” says Dan Gretz, senior director, market development at Blackboard Transact. “You can’t print over magnetic stripes or contact chips, and if barcodes are needed, they take considerable space.
The required “bugs” associated with a banking relationship often have specific placement and space requirements, which can affect a university’s design and layout options, says Gretz. “With bank partnerships the design is typically more controlled and restricted,” he says. “Generally having a bankcard relationship limits the amount of real estate the university has at its disposal.”
Hogging the most space on the backs of IDs, unsurprisingly, is the card’s technology, but for some institutions, the mag stripe is just the beginning.
In recent years, it has become common for cards with banking partnerships to feature dual mag stripes. This second stripe leaves little space for anything but the banking contact information. “Dual three-track mag stripes – each one-half inch in height – severely limit what can be put on the backs of cardstock,” he says.
Many institutions also opt to print a bar code on the reverse of the card so the front design is not impacted, says Heartland’s Emery. “Additionally, some still choose to include a digitized signature or a signature panel such as those found on standard credit cards.”
An invaluable resource
The backs of IDs are largely forgotten, but if given the proper attention it can be both important real estate and a valuable resource for students and faculty in need. In terms of the limited space, there are workarounds.
“In cases where card real estate is truly limited, a campus can choose to post the card disclaimer or legal text to a website and simply print the website URL on the card,” says Emery.
As for altering the legal jargon, it’s something that should only be done with the correct people involved. Still, it may be worth going back to the drawing board every now and then.
“It’s always a good idea to evaluate what is needed on a card on a periodic basis and before any major issuance event,” says Blackboard’s Gretz.
And yet, the most important facet of the discussion is the prospect of providing students and faculty with vital information or contacts in a time of need. Sure, a student could use a smartphone to look up a phone number, but if the campus card is already on their person at all times why not use it to provide valuable information that could make all the difference.