No doubt you’ve noticed, visuals are amongst us almost every minute of the day. A considerable amount of people are visual thinkers. We all know the quote: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In websites and social media we use more and more images to differentiate the message from the gray text masses.
A tweet with a photo is more likely to be recognized or retweeted. An update on LinkedIn is more read, liked or shared when an image is used. A post with an image attracts more likes on Facebook. Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram are among the fastest growing social media channels. We can safely conclude that images are necessary to get a message across.
We used to draw with ease…
So why is it so difficult to make an image for a social media update? Of course a designer can help you. They would probably use Photoshop or Illustrator to make something eye candy. But why can’t you do it yourself? You need expensive software or you are not allowed to buy or install software on your company computer. Besides, you probably don’t know how to use it. Back in the day people could easily draw. The written word came much later. Even with all modern equipment at our fingertips (laptops, tablets and smartphones), creating images and editing photos is still a challenge!
Have you heard of Canva or Snappa? Both are online cloud solutions that give the power of designing images and editing photos to everyone for free; at least the basic functions. It is simple to use since both solutions are designed for ease of use. Both tools have several templates for flyers, business cards, and resumes and offer templates for designing a cover image for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. Everyone can make a nice cover image now without the daunting task of searching for exact measurements.
Making visuals with Canva
Visit http://canva.com and you can start by logging in via Facebook; or create an account. Then you can select what kind of template you want to use and if you like it pre-filled with clipart. Be aware there are free templates and paid ones at $1. Canva is free for personal use. The also offer business accounts which offer very good value for money. Besides fixed template dimensions, it is also possible to make a custom dimension. Canva offers several typo sets that can be used for leaflets, headers and such.
Recently Canva has launched Canva for Work: a business suite for designing a visual identity: leaflets, business cards, Facebook cover, invitation, presentations styles, etc.
When you have discovered the ease of use you will be wondering why you did not try it earlier!
Go to http://snappa.io and you will find an easy to use online graphics editor in the cloud. You can make images for email newsletters, ad campaigns, blog posts and social media. It is also possible to use a custom dimension to make a graphic. Non-designers can make graphics now with a big set of templates, vector images (parts to make an image) and photos to use. Not all templates are available in the free version.
You can start for free and make 5 graphics or pay up to $10 per month to use it unlimited (paid per annum). If you want to save a design you have to register and pay up.
Where to get good images?
Both Canva and Snappa.io offer you a set of photos that you can use. But you probably need more photos to really get started. You cannot simply Google an image and use it, at least not for commercial use. The best is of course to shoot images or hire a photographer. If you do not have the time, or camera or budget to hire one, then you need stockphotos but those are often expensive and non-exclusive. Fortunately there are some stockphoto sites which offer royalty free stock photos of good quality: Pixabay, Stocksnapp, Photopin, Freestocks,Negativespace, Kaboompics and Pexels.
Just register with one of these services and start browsing and downloading high-resolution photos. The photos are good quality and often less commonly used. Deathtostock offers monthly high-quality photos packs directly in your email.
Finally everyone can create images again!
Everyone has the ability to create images for all kinds of usage and also edit photos. You also have some sites where you can get royalty free images. Hopefully you feel empowered to use images again without asking a design department and make sure your message is noticed in the crowd.