Having a designer turn your ideas into a beautiful presentation can be a pretty magical process, with results that are impressive to the ones that matter, from customers to potential investors. But when the time is short, the budget small and the business busy - finding, hiring and briefing a designer to whip up that new post graphic for your Facebook campaign or poster design for your event is often not an option. Lucky to have a designer on your team? You may be finding their to-do list is longer than the hours they have in the day, so they will work on the big stuff leaving you, the one with no design skills to make that thing you need for your meeting last minute leading to the dreaded some-of-our-things-look-awesome-but-not-this-one-pager-I- made-for-my-meeting situation. Eep.
Never fear person without design skills, we have put together a list of some online tools to make your next in-house design job look awesome. Covering everything from easy infographics, to display advertising and photo editing tools to make your product shots look great. As a designer, I'm not going to say your work will get you invited to talk at Semi Permanent anytime soon but will empower your team to make beautiful, striking and effective designed material using templates and simple to use tools. Better yet, we have looked for options that are FREE, which if they have add-on costs are as affordable as possible.
The deets: Easy to use, Canva lets you choose from a selection of templates that cover everything from pamphlets, posters and gift cards, to post graphics for Facebook and Twitter. Alter designs as you wish, using their selection of free photos and graphical elements ( including icons, charts and photos) or upload your own bespoke items. Share your designs with other people so they can collaborate with you, and download your files in everything from JPG to PNG.
We really liked the fact: The plentiful free elements and templates make this a virtual one-stop-shop for whipping up something quickly. Being able to share designs with team members makes collaboration on projects possible, and means your designer could set up some templates on here for others to use when they are busy on gruntier projects.
You may be sad about: Canva is great for print, but if you are looking for an easy way to make an animated video for a presentation this is not the tool for you.
The Cost: Free for basic, or upgrade for $12.95 USD per month
Examples of Canva poster templates
The deets: Want to create a quick grid of images? Or you want to put a cute quote over your Instagram photo? Maybe you have a photo of yourself perfect for the website of that event you are speaking at but you wish you could just finesse that image a bit. If any of these things apply, then PicMonkey is for you. You can choose to edit a photo, touch up a photo, create a design from a template or make a collage. Within these options, you can choose a variety of super easy to use tools to get your desired result.
We really liked the fact: This makes photo editing a no brainer, allowing you crop pictures, adjust lighting and even add some jaunty frames. They have an app too, which means you can do things on the go too.
You may be sad about: The seasonal filters, tools, and elements may be only available to premium members.
The cost: Free, or upgrade to a Royale membership to get all the features and seasonal elements starting at $5.75 a month.
Four things we made in 15 minutes total using PicMonkey
The deets: Visme comes with a huge range of templates, covering everything from banner advertising, to Twitter adverts and presentations. The big point of difference between this and Canva, is that Visme allows you to animate your designs, upload video or even include audio. This means you can make slick presentations or animated adverts. You can also track analytics associated with your designs, moving this from a simple design tool to something a bit more powerful.
We really liked the fact: That this tool is really geared towards presentations and advertising banners, things that many people without design resources struggle to make work for them!
You may be sad about: Naturally, a tool that allows you to create animations, or embed video is going to be slightly more complex to use than the other tools. You will also find some limitations to the free option.
Cost: Free allows you to create 3 projects - but you will have to pay for a monthly membership starting at $7 USD to get what you really need out of this tool.
The deets: Unlike the other tools which tend to keep it broad, Piktochart is about one thing - infographics. The tool is incredibly easy to use, even making sure you know where the cut-offs are on your images if you are thinking about printing your infographics and providing a gallery of creations to get the inspiration flowing. Hyperlink objects within your graphics, import data from excel, google sheets or survey monkey to make accurate charts or use their map tool. You can download your file or publish your graphics online.
We really liked the fact: If you are making an infographic, Piktochart is hard to beat, because the focus is so defined the result is simple, effective and packed full of features.
You may be sad about: While there are good options for free, you will find that many of the templates are only available with a paid membership. If you do choose to go down that route, you will get access to over 500 templates, with templates updated weekly!
Cost: Free gets you in the door, upgrades start at $15 USD a month
Examples of some of the free Infographic templates on Piktochart
A designer who is the daughter of an artist and sister to two award winning designers, Anya knows a thing or two about making things pretty. When she is not wrangling brand & marketing for us you can find her on twitter here.