Watch TV for five minutes — or surf the web for even less — and you’ll see advertisers of every shape and size using interesting graphics. Beautiful charts, perfectly placed text, and a host of visual effects make ordinary images engaging and exciting. For years the ability to create these kinds of visual assets was limited to graphic designers or amateurs dedicated enough to learn the software and techniques professionals used. Well, no longer. The game has changed and even those of us with limited graphic skills can still put together impressive, high-impact visuals.
No conversation about creating high-impact graphics would be complete without acknowledging Adobe, the 800-pound gorilla in the creative software world. In recent years Adobe launched the Creative Cloud, which offers access to the company’s graphic design products at a much more affordable price in a pay-as-you-go model. Adobe has also changed the products themselves to make navigation easier for new users. But even with the changes, many Adobe tools are still geared toward professionals, which means a steeper learning curve. Luckily there is a new breed of design tools for users who need high-quality graphics but don’t have the time to learn complex software.
Canva allows anyone to create beautiful designs and documents. Using its tool, users can create anything from Facebook ads to postcards and then easily integrate with social media tools to post their creations.
Visage features similar graphic capabilities as Canva, but it also provides the chart-building capability. Much easier — and prettier — than excel, Visage’s chart builder is a powerful tool.
Speaking of charts, PiktoChart has similar features to Visage and Canva but with a greater focus on infographics and charts. Infographics were white-hot a couple of years ago, faded a bit from overuse, but now seem to be back and can be very effective when used correctly.
Another player in the chart and infographic category, Infogr.am also creates interactive data visualizations, so your charts can take on entirely new dimensions.
It’s a brave new world out there for small business owners who are looking for visual design flare but who may not have the time, talent, or patience to become graphic designers. Thanks to these new tools, you can keep your day job and create professional-quality visuals.