Design is an integral part of marketing that complements the content and context. Here is a list of free design tools you can use to enhance your content marketing strategy.
A marketer needs to know the fundamentals of the various disciplines that move marketing as a function and its peripheral activities. For example, a growth hackermarketer should be aware of a little bit of coding so that they can make minor tweaks on the go without relying completely on programmers.
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The future of effective content marketing is not in solutions that enable marketing teams to do the same activities with just more volume and efficiency
Similarly, apart from possessing persuasive writing and management skills, understanding the basics of design is important too. Adobe Creative Cloud is a powerful software suite that enables you to create stunning designs, but two major obstacles prevent its adoption across multiple departments:
The investment required to subscribe to the suite is quite heavy on the pocket, and may not be the right choice for marketing departments working on a shoestring budget.
- &#; Adobe Creative Cloud comes with a steep really steep learning curve. So, even though you could be very creative in visualizing, materializing your ideas can often be daunting&#;
- &#;So, let’s leave Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to design creative pros for now, and look at free graphic design tools to better your content marketing strategy.
Graphic Design Tools
Let’s start by looking at what prompted you to click on this link. Here are four free graphic design and photo editing tools that you can use to create visuals that look like the ones designed by pros.
Designers across the spectrum use Canva. It started as a simple design tool with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface and has now evolved into a full-blown tool that enables you to create logos, posters, presentations, resumes, business cards, email headers, social media designs, etc.
Canva can be used through both web browsers and mobile apps. Powered with a set of icons, vectors, images, and fonts, Canva is my personal go-to application to design anything.
GNU Image Manipulation Program GIMP is a free and open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop. GIMP is an excellent choice if you’ve worked on Photoshop, but are not ready to invest in it at the moment.
GIMP is a cross-platform software and works on Linux, Windows, and macOS. Another plus point of this tool is its compatibility with various file formats. So, a file created using Adobe Photoshop PSD, can be edited in GIMP.
Pixlr Editor is a browser-based graphic design app that allows you to create and edit images with all the essential tools effects such as smudge, blur, sharpen, bloat, pinch, etc. you expect from a graphic design tool.
Pixlr also offers Pixlr X, a photo editor that consists of a bunch of filters and effects along with retouching and drawing tools. It is also available as a mobile app on Android and iPhone.
BeFunky is another online graphic design tool that offers similar functionalities to Pixlr and Canva.
Using BeFunky, you can add effects and filters to your existing photos or create banners, flyers, or cards using templates, but an area where it stands out the most is its collage feature. Creating a collage is simple with BeFunky — all you have to do is, upload photos, choose a layout and image resolution, arrange the images as per your liking, make minor tweaks, and you’re done!
Learn More: How Content Marketing Impacts Website Design
Infographic and Data Visualization Tools
Infographics make it super easy to comprehend stats and data, which is why they have become a popular form of content marketing. Marketers use infographics to portray complex information crisply to make it memorable.
Here are three simple-to-use tools you can use to create compelling infographics.
Piktochart started as an application dedicated to infographics, but lately, has branched into other formats as well. The power of Piktochart lies in its vast library of infographic templates categorized based on various use cases.
Its free plan allows you to download infographics in JPG, PNG, and PDF formats. You can also embed infographics on your website, blog, or other digital properties to make them interactive and reap SEO benefits.
Venngage features a library of templates and a gallery of infographics created by the community that you can use for inspiration while working on your infographic. While Venngage works along the same vein as Piktochart, you need to upgrade to a premium plan to exportdownload your work.
Infogram is another tool to create amazing infographics and data visualizations. You can upload your data in various spreadsheet file formats to generate data visualizations. Infogram offers over interactive chart types and map types along with basic animation effects, which your users can view when you embed these on your website.
Free Stock Photos and Icons
Here are a few resources that allow you to download photos, icons, and vector files for free. Before using them, make sure to go through their policy to understand how to give credits to the original creator.
Unsplash has over ,, high-res images that you can use. You can use their images anywhere you like without the need to credit the original creator. But to express gratitude, you can always mention the original source.
Unplash has an enormous collection of images categorized topic-wise, and its API is used by various applications and platforms such as Typeform, Medium, Squarespace, Canva, etc. to enable its users to import images from Unsplash directly.
Pexels hosts a wide variety of stock photos and images that are free to download and use. Regarding crediting the creator, Pexels is as lenient as Unsplash. It has Android, iPhone, Windows, and Mac apps, and Pexels also has a Google Chrome extension, Photoshop and WordPress plugins to simplify the image import process.
Pixabay has a collection of stock photos and videos that runs over million. Pixabay also offers over , illustrations and vector art, which is free to download.
The Pixabay API is used by Pablo, BeFunky, Pixlr, etc.
Freepik is another website that lets you download vector art and stock photos for free. It also offers PSD files and icons that you can use in your designs. Freepik has a premium plan that comes with additional downloadable stock content.
. The Noun Project&#;
The Noun Project allows you to download icons from their repository of over million icons. The Noun Project has designed apps for Mac users, Google’s office suite, and MS-Office. Noun Pro is a premium plan offered by the Noun Project that gives royalty-free access to the same set of icons.
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Miscellaneous Nifty Tools
This section consists of an assortment of tools that are complementary to the key graphic design tools seen earlier in the article.
Typography is an essential aspect of design that communicates essential information. Here are a few resources to find attractive fonts that perfectly represent your brand, messaging, and content.
Google Fonts: Google Fonts consists of free-licensed fonts that you can use in your designs.
- &#; Font Combinations by Canva: It can get confusing when you have to shortlist fonts that go well together from a list of over fonts. Canva has an amazing tool that shows all the fonts you can use that complement the chosen font.
- &#; Fontjoy: Fontjoy uses deep learning to generate random font combinations that go well together.&#;
- &#; . Colors&#;Another crucial aspect of any design is the color selection. The right color combination can make or break your design. Here are three resources you can use to identify the right set of colors for your design.
Canva Color Wheel: Is there anything that Canva doesn’t offer that’s related to design? Apparently not! You can use the color wheel to find out complementary, analogous, monochromatic, triadic, and tetradic color combinations.
- &#; Color Hex: Color Hex has branded itself as Color encyclopedia: Information and conversion. And rightfully so. By entering hexHTML, RGB color codes or by simply entering the name of the color, you can get all the information, shades, tints, tones, color combinations, color alternatives, etc. pertaining to that color.
- &#; Coolors: Your job would be much easier if you can just pick out colors from the image you are working on and find its related colors. Well, Coolors helps you do just that!&#;
- &#; . On-the-go Graphic Design Tools&#;There are some instances when you are either crunched for time or don’t need to invest a lot of time to design something. Here are two such tools you can use in such instances.
Pablo: Pablo is a nifty little tool developed by Buffer that enables you to create simple graphics on the go. Keep in mind that it serves a limited purpose and can’t be used for complex designs.
- &#; MockU Fitting screenshots of your website, mobile apps in mock phones or desktops can be time-consuming if you’re trying to fit them in stock images. MockUPhone is a powerful alternative that lets you fit screenshots and images in a range of devices which you can use for appwebsite design, presentation, or promotion.&#;
- &#; . Annotation Tools&#;When working on explainer or how-to types of content, screenshots can help explain the series of steps. You need to annotate the screenshots with numbers, arrows, etc. to describe the flow of steps.
To make annotation easy, here are three tools that you can use to crop, blur, and annotate images.
Skitch: Skitch is an annotation tool developed by Evernote. The only shortcoming of this app is that it is compatible exclusively with Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
- &#; Zoho Annotator: Zoho Annotator is a browser-based plugin that offers similar features to that of Skitch. Zoho Annotator is presently available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox as a downloadable pluginadd-on.&#;
- &#;Learn More: Why Design Fails Hint: It’s the Data
Over to You
You need to choose the tools that fit well within your existing framework, and that’s why we have created such an exhaustive list. Many of these tools offer restricted functionality if you are on their free plan. For example, Piktochart attaches their branding at the bottom of infographics if you are a free user. Once you are well acquainted with these tools, you can upgrade to their premium plan so that you can collaborate with your team members and unlock additional features.
What design tools are you using currently in your MarTech stack? Tell us on LinkedIn or ; we’re always listening!