Creating Shareable Visuals is Easy with these 7 Online Design Tools

We all know that when it comes to consuming content, text alone no longer makes the cut. We are multi-sensory beings and the more we can plug into our senses to absorb content, the bigger its impact.

Adding visuals is key to beefing up impact and engagement – be it in a blog post, social media post oremail. You can say goodbye to your audience if you cannot hold their interest for longer than a few seconds. Not only will including visuals help get your point across, it could entice your audience to share your content with their networks.

Creating visuals is easiest when you have existing content to work with. But sometimes you don’t have that, or things come up last minute and you don’t have the resources or time to devote. That’s OK. There are tools out there to help you create unique and enticing images that are sure to increase engagement.

Whether you’re a blogger or a marketer, creating visuals for your content should not be a painful process. Here are 7 tools that will help facilitate the design process and give your content a splash of life:
 

1. Canva

Canva is a free and exceptional design tool that people with zero design skills or experience will find easy to use. From blog graphics to posters to Facebook ads, you can start any new design from scratch, or start with a layout if you need a little guidance. You can upload your own images or choose from a wide array of backgrounds. It also has quite the selection of premium stock images, which cost $1 when you publish. Currently in beta.
 

2. Pixlr

This free online photo editor integrates design and paint tools to create custom content. Many of its features (or tools) are similar to what you find in Photoshop: you can choose from various filters, fonts and experiment with different layers. Although Pixlr may seem a little rough around the edges, it’s fairly intuitive and its open form allows your creativity to take rein over your content’s direction.
 

3. Picmonkey

With PicMonkey you can edit, touch up, design or create a collage. It is similar to Pixlr in function, but its interface is much more user friendly. Although users can edit and create images free of charge, one can upgrade to Royale for added effects, fonts, and textures. The monthly cost for Royale is $4.99 or you can opt for an annual membership of $33. It is a great tool for anyone who needs a quick photo editor with a short learning curve.
 

4. Quozio

Quozio is a quick and effortless tool that will give a simple quote a nice pop. Just provide a quote, pick a predetermined style and share. It’s that easy! There’s even a bookmarklet that makes it even more convenient to create an eye-catching quote – highlight text on any web page, click the bookmarklet, and your text is delivered into the tool for a hassle-free experience. The only downside to Quozio is its lack of font choice and custom styles. However, its favorable price tag – free! – and the convenience of no registration required makes this a charming, great-to-know tool.
 

5. Share As Image

Share As Image is a seamless tool that turns any text into a shareable image in seconds. This works just like Quozio, only it offers more options to customize font and background. Users can also play around with filters to add texture to their images. Once an image has been created, users can download it or easily share it on social media. You can use this tool for free if you’re open to having the Share As Image watermark at the bottom of your image. However, upgrading to the PRO account for $8/month will add your own branding, get access to premium photos, and manage your images. This handy tool is great for creating web images to accompany your content in any occasion.
 

6. Skitch

Skitch is a free application from Evernote that helps you create insightful content. This isn’t an exhaustive design tool, but rather a tool to bring out qualities within a screen shot or your own image — because sometimes all you really need is a little detail to strengthen your visuals. Fully equipped with bold arrows, text, shapes, pixelizer and a color palette, Skitch can turn a boring and unclear image into a resourceful asset.
 

7. Coggle

Sometimes, you may be dealing with a difficult subject that can be daunting to your audience. A great way of inviting your readers to dive into your post is to create a mind map. This visual can help guide your reader through complex ideas that otherwise might have gotten lost in translation. Coggle is a free, straightforward mind mapping tool that allows you to work independently or invite others to work on the map as well, after signing in with Google. Just double-click on the main Coggle to get started and the rest is cake.

How do you incorporate visuals into your content strategy? Tell us below!


Visit Visual.ly for the first version of this story.

7 Top Tips For Successful Infographics

What makes a great infographic?

Infographics are all around us. Although they have come under some scrutiny in recent years, done well they are an extremely useful way of presenting data in a cohesive way that allows you to easily compare and contrast key findings. With good creative work, they can also be a really attractive piece of marketing communication.

When pulling your data together for an infographic, you must focus on a topic that is engaging to your target audience. However, once you have all the data, have created a beautiful image, and have it all set to go, you’ll want to maximize its effectiveness, so here are our top seven tips for doing just that:

Size matters
Always provide a high-resolution version of your image. If press or bloggers want to share it, they’ll need it in high resolution, so don’t limit your options before you start.

It’s also a good idea to build a smaller version of the infographic, or an “infogram,” which will appear as a small, attractive image when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Typically an infogram is a concise part of an infographic that can be viewed as standalone content.

Though not essential, this will make outreach a lot more successful, as you can offer bloggers an infographic to host on their site and an infogram to share online. The infographic must look great, but you should make sure it is also the right size for your website.

What’s in a name?
Get your title right. The page should have a catchy title and an introductory paragraph, as well as a few more paragraphs outlining the highlights. If posting into a blog, make sure you have a catchy post title that can be easily shared on external sites and by bloggers who may want to reference your work.

Brand it
Don’t go overboard with the branding; less will usually be more during the outreach process. Bloggers will appreciate being affiliated with an established brand, but they know their worth and won’t feel comfortable providing free advertising for you. Make a judgment call that makes sense for your audience.

Break it down
Breaking down the infographic into sections can help make data easier to digest. If you take this approach, you should still provide the full infographic at the bottom of the page so that users can still view your creation in all its glory. A great example of this can be seen here.

Offer your insights
Don’t leave your infographic as a standalone piece of communication. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to showcase data-led insights.

The infographic is also more likely to be shared and linked to if it offers real value to people. Adding extra tips/stats/data could turn the onsite page into a resource that would be easier to pitch to bloggers and journalists. The bonus info also will encourage people to share it.

What’s more, providing insights to back up your statistics will increase the topical relevance of the page, enhancing the chance your content will rank well in searches.

Reference
Enhance its credibility by referencing all the great data sources you’ve used to compile your infographic. Make sure you use clickable URLs so that blogs/sites can actually find all the information in case they want to add something when publishing the infographic. This includes referencing research that you may have completed in-house as well. These should be placed at the bottom of the page.

Build it, and they will come?
Finally, you must consider the visibility of your infographic; after all that hard work, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. Make sure you share it across your social networks, as well as engaging with your influencers to share it through their sites.
The content will generate SEO value for your brand, so ensure that appropriate links are included.

Written by Matt Carrington, April 2014
Matt Carrington is a digital promotion analyst at iCrossing UK, a digital marketing agency specializing in data driven strategies to build connected brands. This post was originally appeared in http://bit.ly/1hb0ZrS via @PRDaily