Design Tools For The Non-Designer
Resources for the Marketer in a Design Pinch
We’ve all been there, you write the perfect blog post, build out an amazing audience segment and are ready to launch when you realize you are missing a critical element, an eye-catching image (or two). Without the right imagery attached to your post you’ll see a drop in overall CTR, engagement, and shares. Luckily, we’ve come a long way from the days of cringe-worthy stock photos and Word Art. And while the best case scenario is to grab someone from your graphic design team in today’s fast-paced work environment it’s no longer realistic to expect every post to be expertly crafted in Photoshop. That being said, there is no excuse for letting a sub-par image hold back the success of a blog post or Facebook Ad set you’ve spent hours on. Leverage the design tools below to quickly generate graphics that showcase your work.
Adobe Post is a mobile app that allows users to create graphics designed specifically for social media. At first glance Adobe Post appears like a Canva copy-cat but choosing to roll out an app instead of a website (like Canva’s) is bound to set the two apart and speaks to the fact that most of us spend a good amount of time on our phones. For now it also seems highly Instagram-centric which is perfect for brands or bloggers with a large presence on the platform.
Canva pioneered the way for non-designers when they launched back in 2012 and filled the void for people like you and I who appreciate good design but might not want to learn how to work their way around Photoshop. Three years later and they’ve launched Canva for Work which gives users for templates for presentations, proposals, business cards, and more. Better yet, if your company has an in-house designer they can design some standard templates and users can then quickly edit them for each project. Even if you don’t have a designer you could contract a freelancer to build out templates for the next year.
PicMonkey is another great design tool that has some great photo editing features for those of us that don’t believe the right filter can fix any photo. One key feature that sets PicMonkey apart is that you can use your own fonts so if you want to keep everything branded to your unique font you can easily do so. They also have a large variety of font options to choose from which is always great to see.
Pro Tip: Change your images to fit each social media’s sizing guides. Sure, taking the extra few minutes on every image can quickly add up but in the end, the extra engagement you’ll see is worth it through and through. Especially if you are publishing something with a quote or visible text, when things get cut off you risk people mistaking your work for sloppy. Luckily many design sites will have pre-set sizes for each social media channel. If you’re going to be promoting your content on Facebook using paid traffic reference the Facebook grid to make sure your ratio is on-point and your ad will get approved.
Use Adobe Kuler if you don’t have set branding colors or are looking to change it up for a holiday or a special post. This is a great way to identify complimentary colors or even choose your own branding colors.
Sadly, while we would love to just grab a gorgeous user-generated photo off Instagram it’s important to play by the rules and use images that have been designated as royalty-free for all of your promotions. User-generated content is great to include (and cite) throughout your post but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the overall promotion of posts. Oftentimes the hardest part about selecting images is making sure that it truly fits with your brand, sometimes I find an image with the content I am looking for but with a look that just doesn’t align with the image my client wants to portray. So without further adieu, here are my favorite places to find high-resolution images:
I’ve been using Pixabay for the last year and in that time they’ve nearly doubled their inventory of free images. You can quickly search through images of everything from nature to business. You can download large files with a free account and can donate Wikipedia-style when you are feeling generous. Pixabay has a good mix of trendy and traditional stock photos making it one of my go-to stops whenever I’m searching for that perfect photo.
Dollar Photo Club
Dollar Photo Club is the only paid resource I use when it comes to finding royalty-free images, as you may have guessed by its straightforward name each photo is available at the consistent and low price of one dollar. We use this for a number of clients and are able to save each photo we purchase into a separate folder making it easy to stay organized. As with Pixabay they have images for just about any occasion.
Unsplash is another awesome resource that has different photo collections you can sort through to find beautiful images of everything from a city-scape to a cluttered desk. Unsplash is a great resource to pull all of your free images from for social media or blog posts. If you plan to pull all photos from one place this would be the one to do it from, no matter what the subject of the image is there is an undeniable element of consistency throughout the majority of images on their site.
When it comes to creating share-worthy graphics it’s all about finding whatever tools work best for you! One tool isn’t necessarily better than the other, it all depends on what you are most comfortable using so play around with each and find your go-to so when you need to create images on the fly you are more than ready.
Have another favorite design resources? Share them in the comments below!