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8th January 2019 Amy Firth

DIY Infographics: Three free tools

Infographic on phone

Infographics can be a great way to get complicated information across quickly and visually. If you’ve been on our Infographics That Wow online training, you’ll know what to include in an infographic and how to best plan and structure that information. So you’re all set to create your masterpiece…  but what tool do you use to do that?

If you’ve got some design experience, then you can dive right in to tried and trusted Adobe platforms like Creative Cloud – but if you’re not a specialist, or don’t have access to a paid platform there’s some free packages out there you might want to consider.

Most of these packages are somewhat limited in the free functionality which they offer, with the option to upgrade for more advanced features, but you can still produce respectable infographics with relative ease. A basic grasp of design principles is always helpful, but if you’ve already been on our infographics training you’ll have enough to get you going.

I take a quick look at three of the most popular free infographic tools and their pros and cons below, based on my own experience of using them.

Pros:

  • There’s a range of pre-set infographic templates which are easily adaptable.
  • You can upload your own images – or select from a range of free icons etc.
  • You can choose you own colour scheme, from pre-selected options or by selecting specific hexadecimal colours.
  • It’s a pretty intuitive interface and you can download the file in multiple formats (PDF, JPG, PNG…)
  • You can access some of the teams functionality, to share work, within the free package.

Cons:

  • The infographic templates are limited to 800 x 2000 pixels – you can set your own dimensions to start with a blank sheet, but the existing templates won’t work, so more work required on your part.
  • The range of fonts is a little limited, and you won’t see trusted favourites like Arial – instead having to scroll through to find Canva’s own versions, like “Arialle”.
  • If you want Canva to remember your preferred colours/fonts etc, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version which provides a “brand kit”.

 

The paid version has some handy tricks like automatically resizing your content for different purposes – so you can adapt your infographic to optimal Facebook post size, for instance, but this can be a bit hit-and-miss in how well it works. It still saves time, but you’ll likely need to do manual adjustments to get the look you want. You can get a free 30 day trial of the paid version to see whether you think it’s worth the investment of around $13/£10ish a month.

 

Pros:

  • There’s a much more extensive range of templates and different dimensions to choose from.
  • You can add marketing features like content gates (e.g. so that content is obscured unless people sign-up for your newsletter)
  • The fonts are more standard than the ones in Canva, and you have a similar range of icons available to use

Cons:

  • The free version is very limited – you can’t export your infographics or upload your own images, for instance.
  • In the free version, you can only publish online, and your infographic is automatically published in Venngage’s own gallery (so not ideal if you want to create infographics for internal use only)

 

In terms of the interface, it’s similar to Canva, but if we’re comparing the free versions, Canva offers more flexibility. The inability of Venngage to export content or to upload images is very restrictive. If you’re a non-profit, then the price is roughly in the Canva ballpark. If not, it’s $19 for an individual, but the number of image uploads you can get is set at 50 max, and your export options exclude high resolution and interactive PDFs unless you upgrade to the Business package, at $49 a month.

 

Pros:

  • The templates are great if you have a lot of “number-based” information you want to convey through an infographic
  • There are many free photos available through Visme to use in your infographic – and you can upload your own images too
  • You can download the image as a JPG (but not a high-res JPG – you have to upgrade for that and other file formats)
  • It’s more geared up for infographics than Canva – you have more control over your representational graphics, icons, etc.

Cons:

  • The colour schemes are limited to a few pre-set options unless you upgrade to the paid packages
  • The interface is a bit less intuitive to use than Canva (in my opinion)
  • You can get up to 5 projects in the free version, and the Visme branding will appear on your work.

The end-product from Visme can be very good – but it can be a bit more work to your infographic from scratch than with Canva. On the one hand, it stops you being lazy, and your template is less likely to be used elsewhere, on the other, it does take a bit longer to get to the end point than Canva. Visme also uses standardised fonts, unlike Canva – you can find Arial and others with ease.

Visme’s Standard package is $13 a month – so pitched at the same level as Canva, in terms of investment, however you do have to pay annually. That gets you all the premium assets, 15  projects, and you can create your colour palettes. The Complete package is $22 a month, and again is annually billable. If you do upgrade to Complete, then you can download in HTML5 format – and Visme will let you do some nifty animations with your infographic.

 

Summary

There are of course other tools out there, but if you’re on a tight budget and looking for easy ways to create an infographic, you should be able to get something decent from the ones I looked at here. The pricing was correct at November 2018, and based on functionality available at that time, and the review is based on my own personal experience. Don’t forget, AMA’s Infographics That Wow online training includes plenty of practical help and advice on creating infographics that connect with your intended audiences.

Blog post by Amy Firth, Head of Marketing – Membership at AMA

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