Save money with these design tools for non-designers
April 22, 2020
At bellette, we are major fans of cloud-based solutions. We run our whole office using various online platforms that give us the freedom to work from anywhere at any time with ease. As a marketing agency, we have also been loyal disciples of the Adobe Creative Suite since our inception, working closely with Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro and the other Adobe products. These systems have been our primary tools in creating high-quality designs and footage that meets our clients’ brief.
Like any craftsperson, creatives are only as good as their toolkit and know-how (with a bit of natural flair thrown in there too). Adobe has long been the professional standard for designers and film editors, with our team having spent hundreds of hours to perfect their craft. Adobe knowledge has been a ‘must-have’ for most jobs in the creative space for the past few decades. Our creatives can use these tools for almost anything - from designing a mascot for a sports team to creating giant billboards and award-winning movies - the sky’s the limit!
But as with so many industries, technology has crept its way into the creative space to make everyone’s lives easier - and to challenge the role of the formally trained designer. With online creative software becoming more accessible to the general public, it’s time to question the way we all approach creative content.
Rather than fight this change or scramble to prove our validity in this new world of robots, many creatives (including us!) are beginning to pivot and adapt. We’re embracing these new technologies and trends to be able to pump out creative content faster, provide more value within budgets and deadlines, and optimise our time to really get creative, with artificial intelligence and templates doing the heavy lifting.
Because! Content really is king - we know, the phrase may have become a bit of a cliche, but it remains truer than ever - especially online.
The internet is now FULL of cheap, easy to use software that businesses can use to create a whole suite of beautifully visual content. They even use the miracle of artificial intelligence to help you out. People don’t necessarily need to put in the hard slog of design or editing training or spend hundreds of hours learning Adobe programs to produce good content. Design work has become much more accessible to the average Jo.
Here are a few of our favourite cloud-based programs we’re bringing into our workspace and why we think they’re changing the face of content creation forever.
For those quick, multi-use design tasks and for keeping your whole team on-brand.
Canva is a drag and drop design tool created by a pair of innovative Australian’s - we love seeing Aussies disrupt the system! The tool has been around for a while now and has three tiers:
- Canva (free)
- Canva Pro
- Canva Enterprise
We are super excited about Canva Enterprise. We’ve implemented it internally and are helping our clients set up their own accounts with the service. It’s been created with businesses in mind, hosting all of a business’ commonly used templates but locking down the essential features and brand elements. It helps protect the brand identity, and restricts employees ability to deviate from the business’ brand - no Comic Sans in sight!
Canva’s templates (once setup) mean it’s super quick to create new business cards, email signatures and posters. You only need to change a few small details and send it off to print. Previously, you would have had to rely on the designer who made the original to make this small change. Using their Adobe software they would reopen and reload, adjust and export for print/web and then send it back off to the printer - a task that you can now step in and quickly do for yourself. No waiting for someone else’s schedule to open up!
This platform gives our clients freedom and control over their designs, to make minor changes to their collateral. From our perspective as your on-hand designer, it means we can spend that freed up time thinking of new, more creative ways to promote your services to customers and clients (we love a good problem solving task and the extra room for creativity!)
For whipping up some great, eye catching videos to use online.
Lumen5 is new to the online space, with free and paid options just like Canva. It has super-smart artificial intelligence integration, and can even auto generate a video for you when you give it your script or website URL! You can create your own videos by dragging and dropping your uploads, or choosing from millions of free stock footage options into a sequence. These videos are aimed to be quick and easy and focused on content for social media, rather than the silver screen.
You can add in audio tracks, title sequences, input your own brand colours and fonts - keeping everything on track.
We use this platform for our social media posts. A post on social media might only have a shelf life of a few seconds - very different compared to a TV commercial that might run for 10 years! For that reason, it doesn’t seem worth spending hours of budget on a quick little video for social media - tools like this make valuable social media content very efficient and cost effective.
Lumen5 gives us the freedom to get really creative in our shooting and reduce our turnaround time when we head back to our Edit Suite to do the movie magic.
We do find though that Lumen5 can be super restrictive with editing colours and transitions, so once we’re done whipping up our quick vid, we put it into some Adobe software to tidy up additional areas to really give it the WOW factor once shared online.
Figma is a bit more on the technical side - but is super accessible for the average Jo if you’d like to give it a go! Figma is an online web design tool, allowing people to collaborate on one project - no matter their computer operating system (it’s like Google Docs but for design). It tracks everyone’s input, and even integrates with another favourite tool of ours, Slack, so that team members can live chat about the project.
Figma also makes it super easy to share website designs with our clients, and we can even make changes in real-time. Interested to see what something might look like green instead of blue? You can make a live change and see it straight away - making client meetings super productive and interactive!
We can also prepare our website files super quickly, cutting out a whole heap of steps for both our design team and our web development team. Files are all available online, so if a member of our team is working from home, they can pick back up from their home laptop without the need for any Adobe software.
It’s a super intuitive program, allowing our team to really focus on the creative idea and chatting with our friendly clients, instead of wasting time doing grunt work in version control and saving out each individual feature.
We love cloud-based programs, the power they give our clients and the ability they give our team to really focus on the creative side of things to help them think big. Once you’ve set yourself up, jobs that may have previously taken days of admin can be completed in a breeze.
As for the designer’s role in this new robot driven industrial age, they are still of vital importance. While all this easy, online software takes away a lot of the small jobs - the big creative thinking work is still there to be done. We’ll say it again, content is king, and the quality of your content matters.
Think about what you like to watch. If you’re watching a YouTube video with a story that doesn’t make sense, or animations that seem clunky and random, you might not come back and watch more. Just because the tools are there - doesn’t mean quality content is guaranteed. With Google, Facebook and Instagram preferring content that looks good (and even penalising content that doesn’t) and algorithms that are changing every minute, relevant, quality content is what you need to stand out from the crowd.
A designer can help start you off on the right path with these tools, or perhaps take what you’ve started and turn it into something bigger and better than the robots could have achieved. Design work is far from obsolete. We’re just excited that tools like these allow us to focus attention on the bigger picture.