One of the most challenging aspects of running a modern business is that you have to wear so many hats. Digital presence requires design skills at every level of the organization, and costly design softwares have been replaced with apps and web-based software. I use a lot of tools in my trade, but two have been in my box for a long time – the best free design tools for business – Canva and Picmonkey.
A Brief History of Design Tools for Business: Canva vs. PicMonkey
Picmonkey was one of the first browser-based design softwares, and it focused exclusively on editing images. It existed before apps and in many ways laid the groundwork for Canva. Picmonkey started out as a free software with a premium upgrade option. Several years ago, they locked many of the most impressive features behind the paywall. Now, they no longer offer a free membership – only a free trial.
Canva, on the other hand offers almost full functionality for free. Everything behind the paywall is not necessary for even advanced use – though many of the features like automatic smart resizing of graphics for multiple social media platforms are certainly worth an upgrade. But Canva doesn’t is more than just a photo editor; it’s a full-featured free design tool for your business.
Both products likely have a place in your business toolkit so read on for a more detailed review of the two best design tools for business.
PicMonkey: Monthly Membership for Advanced Filters
PicMonkey is all about editing photos. You can add filters, frames, stickers, and text. You can build collages from multiple images. Or you can even build a collage from one photo and blank space. This is a great way to make your horizontally aligned photos Pinterest friendly. If you want to make your photos beautiful or design an element for your website that is photo-heavy, you should definitely use Picmonkey.
Technically, you can design an image with just a background color, text, and stickers, using PicMonkey, but there aren’t nearly as many options as there are in Canva for actual design. When PicMonkey was free, I would edit my photos there and then move them to Canva for document/graphic design.
Now, the editing you get on PicMonkey can be better achieved through other free apps on your phone – or even with the new advanced filters and photo editing options directly in Canva.
The monthly PicMonkey membership starts at $7.99/month, and although I used to be a fan… frankly, I think your money would be better spent elsewhere.
Canva Is The Best Free Graphic Design Tool For Your Business
Canva is the ultimate free graphic design tool for your business. There are tons of free stickers, templates, and pre-formatted text boxes that can help you design the perfect image for your blog, annual report for your investors, or social media image. You can use an image as a background or choose from one of their numerous background styles.
When Canva first arrived on the scene, it was focused almost exclusively on layout and graphic design. It was possible to upload images, but the built-in filters and editing options were nothing compared to PicMonkey. But, my how the times have changed! Canva now has filters, photo editing, and advanced photo effects built directly into the platform.
Canva also features free photos from Unsplash and paid stock photography and creative assets for $1 per image. If you find yourself constantly searching for cheap stock photography, Canva might be a good option since it simplifies the process.
One of the best things about Canva is that you can save your design to your account for free (though you can’t change the size document dimensions without the upgraded account). For instance, I used Canva to design my Pinterest board cover images to create a cohesive feel to my Pinterest profile. Now, whenever I create a new board, I can just go in and use the old file as a template to make sure the styling is cohesive every time.
Tips & Tricks for Using Canva for Business
- It might be worth upgrading your membership. Premium accounts allow you to save header styling, logos, and color palettes for easy access when designing. The paid account also allows you to optimize any design for multiple social media networks with the click of a button.
- Don’t underestimate basic shapes. Using squares and circles to add callouts to your images can be powerful – especially when designing for social media. It can be tempting to go overboard with so many sticker options; but sometimes the basic elements make for the most professional designs.
- Search for fonts. Canva’s font search tool is really powerful. Yes, it can do the ordinary search and find thing, but it can also find fonts based on adjectives. Try searching for narrow fonts, pretty fonts, or wide fonts to see the best fonts for your particular needs.