Fact: The web’s gone visual. And social media is at the forefront of the change.
Even I, a professional writer, feel the need to drum up my graphic design skills if I want to stay in business.
It’s just… I don’t have much talent (to put it mildly). Creating such amazing visuals as the guys in our design team at AdEspresso do is out of question for me. But…
You see, I may never become a professional designer. But thanks to some killer online design tools, I can easily create stunning social media visuals. And I do, both for myself and to promote my clients’ content.
So, this week, I decided to show you 5 design tools I use to create visuals for social media.
But first, let’s clear something up…
What Makes a Good Design Tool (At Least for Me)?
There are probably hundreds of tools allowing to create social media graphics.
And having tried and tested many of them, I came to a conclusion that to me, a good design app should meet three criteria:
- Using it for someone like me, a non-designer, should be dead-easy.
Goes without saying, right?
I don’t understand anything beyond the very basic design terminology. And I have no interest in learning more about it just to use an app.
All I want to do is click a couple of buttons, drag few things and BAM!… have my image done.
- It should also give me access to design elements to use.
I admit, I don’t even dream of creating elaborate visuals for the web. But having said that, I like to go beyond just putting text on top of an image, although there’s nothing wrong with that approach, of course. And even if I wanted to do that, the last thing I want is to have to sign up for some image gallery to find relevant photos for my visuals.
I want an app to have it all.
Granted, not every app I use offers that ability. But some form of templating and access to royalty-free images and graphics certainly helps.
- It should allow outputting visuals directly to social media or Buffer
This one’s kinda obvious, no?
I want the ability to fire off my visual directly to Buffer and skip the hassle with having to download it, file it, and then switch to another app to schedule its publication.
After all, our time is precious, isn’t it?
So, with that in mind, here are 5 tools I currently use in my work.
Oh, let me tell you: Snappa is one heck of a design tool.
It’s dead-easy to use, offers access to countless visual elements, and outputs files directly to Buffer.
I use it to create around 90% of all my and my agency’s clients graphics.
Snappa focuses on graphics, rather than photos. And that’s good because graphics and icons offer more flexibility and versatility when creating visuals.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Snappa provides simple tools allowing people like me, non-designers, to experiment and create almost any type of image.
It includes templates for a breadth of visuals:
Social media posts
Blog graphics and Social profiles images
And various social media and display ads
Once you’ve selected the visual size (by the way, you could also start with a custom size), you can create a graphic either from a template or start from scratch.
In Snappa you construct visuals from four elements (plus various effects that you can apply to the entire visual):
- Background. You can use an image, pattern, or a color for that.
- Text. You can choose from three presets (header, subheading, and main text) and customize each to your liking.
- Graphics. My favorite part of the app. Snappa gives access to tons of icons and visuals. Plus, you can upload your ones. And then, resize, rotate, and change their colors to make them fit your idea.
- Shapes. Finally, you can also add various geometric shapes, and scale and edit them to your liking.
For me, the beauty of Snappa lies in its versatility.
The tool is primarily icon/graphic based. What this means is that you can design pretty much anything by matching or juxtaposing symbols and graphics. And it’s robust editing tools allow for almost endless experimentation until you create something that you’re happy with (and yes, that’s exactly how I do it J)
Here are two examples of visuals I created with Snappa:
A quote/tip image I designed to use in tweets promoting one of my posts (note, I didn’t feature it in the content but used the image solely on social media):
And a featured image I produced for the latest post on my agency’s blog:
Pretty good for a non-designer, eh?
You can use Snappa for free for up to 5 downloads and shares per month and with access to limited templates. $10 a month unlocks everything in the app.
I admit: You don’t always have to create sophisticated visuals to rock the web.
Sometimes a great looking and relevant image with some text placed on top does the trick equally well.
And that’s what Pablo, a tool by Buffer, helps you to do. With this tool, you can create amazing, picture based visuals you could then send directly to social media (or download).
Pablo’s interface contains only three elements:
- Left sidebar with pictures gallery that allows you to find an image you want to use in the visual.
- The main graphic area, displaying your image and text overlay, which you can edit.
- Right sidebar where you specify the size for your graphic, apply some basic filters, position the text, and add your company’s logo (if you want to, of course).
And, that’s it.
To create an image with Pablo you just have to select a picture, customize the text, add filters if needed and … voila… your image is ready!
Here’s an example of a visual I created with Pablo to tweet about one of our clients’ posts:
Pablo also offers pre-set templates, saving you time on searching for the right image to use.
Buffer provides Pablo for free. So if you’re stuck with creating simple, picture-based visuals for social media, head on to https://pablo.buffer.com and get cracking 🙂
Recite does one thing only but it does it extremely well: It allows you to create those funky looking images with quotes you see all over the social media.
Recite’s interface includes only two elements, a text-field where you paste your quote and a list of templates you can use.
The tool offers no editing options, making it super-simple and fast. Just paste a quote, select the design you want to use (and don’t worry, you can always change it later), and click Create.
Your quote based visual’s ready in a couple of seconds.
Here’s an image I created just now, while writing this post:
Recite is free to use.
I took every screenshot in this post with Skitch. Because, you see, that’s exactly what the tool does (and it does it so well).
It allows you to take screenshots and annotate them, add text, arrows or circle what you want the viewer to look at.
Unlike the other tools I mentioned, to use Skitch, you have to download it to your computer. Not that it presents any problem but thought I’d mention it.
Also, Skitch doesn’t share images on social media. You have to save a visual and then use another app to share it. Unfortunate thing but given everything I can do with the tool, it’s a minor annoyance.
Skitch is also a free tool.
Pablo, a tool I mentioned earlier, gives you access to pictures you can spice up with some text to create engaging social media visuals. Over, on the other hand, allows you to do the same with your photos.
Over is a mobile app (iOS and Android) you can use to add text and customize fonts, colors, size, and add a couple of basic effects.
The tool is ideal for brushing up images before posting them to Instagram, Facebook or any other image-based social network.
So, if you’re looking to add more action to photos from a particular event you’re attending, show a more personal side of your business, or let your audience behind the scenes of a company outing… Over is a tool to do it.
Here’s a quick visual I created with the tool just now:
And before you ask, yes, that is my office today, and that’s where I wrote this post.
What do you think?
Have you used any of these tools before? Or are there any other design apps you prefer to create social media visuals? Let us know in the comments.