Oct 30, 2018

5 design tools for dummies

Read Brady Mason's review of 5 design tools that are easy, efficient and free to use.
Brady Mason
Freelance UX/UI Designer

We have all experienced a time in life when certain tasks, skill sets, or abilities have been put to the test. For many startups, SMBs (small to medium size businesses), or even individuals, building creative assets is definitely one of these times. Thankfully, there are grip of tools out there that are extremely easy to use, time efficient - and most of all - cost efficient. If “FREE” isn't within your budget, you definitely have some issues! 

I tested out 5 different design tools that will help kickstart your next website, social media post, infographic, logo design/ illustration, or personal resume. Along each step of the way, I clocked how long it takes to set up an account and create a design. Granted the designs are not my best work (quite shitty if you ask me), but I think you will get the picture I am trying to paint here. Whether your team is starting from the ground floor or already developing, these products are a great resources to add to your toolbox.


Canva is a tool I am sure you have heard of by now. Its drag-and-drop features create a dream world for those of you who feel they lack creativity. By the end of your first project, all those doubts will be thrown out the window. You'll feel like a graphic designer in no time!

With thousands of templates for social media, poster art, blog graphics, album covers, menus, and more, you will have no problem following the existing layouts set up for you. In addition, Canva also has an extensive library of photos (plus filtering capabilities), free icons and shapes, and a vast variety of fonts.

Notable stats: 100M+ designs created and 10M+ users

Setup time
Creation time

30 seconds is quite impressive, especially considering the onboarding process that is setup to specify the needs and interests you are focused on.

Canva design example
The design

I was able to create a basic social media event post in 2 minutes! If only hiking were as easy as that. 


Illustrio is a tool you can use to customize icons and build other web-based designs. Their icons are organized by visual categories, so all you have to do is click! Easy, right? Each icon can be customized with pre-existing color palettes for you to quickly choose the color scheme that fits your style.

If you want to take it one step further, you can upload your own custom icon and create a custom color palette that fits your brand guidelines.

Setup time
Creation time

This took me a measly 13 seconds to set up! Thats pretty damn fast in my book.

illustrio design example
The design

Pretty cool looking “b”, yeah? I know. I did this in only 48 seconds. I wonder if Beats by Dre used Illustrio? ;)


Easel.ly is a creative asset that turns your boring data dumps, timelines, and personal information into visually captivating images. With a preset of template options, you simply choose which style fits your fancy and begin to make your edits. One thing I really like about this product is it walks you through ways to tell a visual story. As a company or individual, you are constantly fighting to be seen and heard. Words on a screen - no matter what you say - don´t cut it anymore. 

This tool is a great additon to help bring your thoughts, research, and personal information to life!

Notable Stats & Award: Over 300,000 registered users and won the Best Website for Teaching & Learning Award from the AASL (American Association of School Librarians)

Setup time
Creation time

Once again, you see how fast it is to setup an account. 20 seconds later and I was ready to get to work (NOTE: it may have been even faster if I chose to login via Gmail or Facebook, which all these other tools provide as an option as well).


easel.ly design example
The design

Look at that hunk! Thats me. In under 4 minutes, I was able to whip up a unique personal resume highlighting my design style, skill sets, passions, and a short bio about myself.


Piktochart is another great source for building visual stories. Companies like TechCrunch, Forbes, MOZ, and many more are using this tool to boost their level of communication.

To help spice up your infographic, Piktochart gives you the ability to customize charts and maps, upload your own photos or videos, or pull from a large list of industry specific icons. The integration to share online, present in a slideshow, or download and print is all built into their system.

Notable Stats: From 0 to over 2M+ users in 36 months and 20,000 paying customers

Setup time
Creation time

Similar to Canva, Piktochart has a unique way of bringing you on as a customer. The sign on process consists of 3 easy steps to help customize the tool to fit your personal or business needs. 50 seconds! Bam. That was a quickie ;)

piktochart design example
The design

It took 2 minutes to build a quick infographic about the city I come from. We gladfully admit we have the best snow on earth. Beklager, mine norske venner ;)


Stencil is seriously an imaging editing tool for dummies. I know this because I tested it on my grandmother about an hour ago just to make sure. They are firm believers of efficiency and quality, which in return, helps bring to life your business or personal brand.

Just like the other tools, they use drag-and-drop features to help you add backgrounds, icons and graphics, logos, images, and customized templates. Editing text, changing fonts or font sizes, altering opacity, and much more is done with one click. They have a heavy focus on social media image optimization, so you won't have to worry about proper dimensions or requirements.

IMG_0130 2.PNG
Setup time
IMG_0131 2.PNG
Creation time

Oh shit! This is the second tool that took 15 seconds or less to set up. Well done, Stencil!

stencil design example
The design

No, this is not the design my grandmother put together. But I am sure she could! This template was built for a social media post. As you can see, I was able to add a background image, graphics, and text to explain the post.

Moral of this story, time is money people. Don't restrict yourself by thinking you have limited creative abilities. No matter what task you need to achieve in this day in age, there is always a way to achieve it. Some may take more work and extensive time, some may not take any time at all - like these examples. But whatever it may be, the information world is here to help us all out.

If you still think you need help, that's where Graphiq comes into play. They will connect you with hand-picked designers, videographers, and website developers to deliver timely and top notch work.

Click here to get a price estimation for your next project!

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