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Whether you are an online new business owner or a seasoned entrepreneur selling your products or services, you would definitely at one time or another need to utilize or edit some images or graphics. Even though Photoshop is among the popular graphic design tools available on the market, not everyone can afford it legally. Besides, there are many features in Photoshop that are not needed by non-designers. Thankfully, there are many other good online alternatives, that can do the job equally well as Photoshop, if not better. Hence, here is a useful list that can help you pick up the right tool to manage your graphic needs better.
Please kindly note that some of these links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission with no additional cost to you. I only recommend tools I have used and believe are genuinely beneficial, not because of the small commissions I earn if you decide to purchase them. Most importantly, I would never ask you to buy something that you cannot afford or that you are not yet ready to adopt.
CANVA (Free and Paid)
Canva is every internet marketer’s essential online graphic design tool. It is a simple drag and drop editor. It has a simple, easy-to-use user interface (UI for short) and it is browser based. That means you can access the application anywhere, as and when you are on the go via desktop, mobile and tablet.
Canva for Work charges US$12.95 per month or US$9.90 per monthly if billed $119.40 USD yearly.
What I Like About Canva
- User interface is intuitive, fluid and smooth
- Get a free account to explore the features of the software
- A wide array of design templates readily available to choose from, namely social media, Powerpoint presentation, poster, Facebook post, blog graphic, A4 page, greeting card and even email header
- Create custom dimensions or even edit existing templates to custom fit your needs
- Share or download what you have created with your team members
- Upload your own custom logos, fonts, color palettes via “Your Brand” section
- Further, you can learn to pick design ideas and inspiration quickly, and the help icon given at the bottom of the page
Overall, it is quite fun to use this app. I enjoy using it personally.
What I Don’t Like About Canva
- No free trial with all premium features available for test-drive
The free account only limited to 2 folders to organize designs, up to 10 team members for collaboration of graphic files, up to 1Gb storage for photos and assets, and uploading your own images only. For full features like magically resizing your designs, upload custom fonts and set color palettes for your brand, you have to upgrade to a working account. Only then a 30 days FREE trial be given after one’s credit card info is entered. I find that is not very welcoming though.
- Costly if subscribing to an annual membership. This is even more so if you do not use the software very often
- Charges by the asset. This means that in order to use premium photos and additional graphics given in the library, you basically have to pay more
PicMonkey is an online photo editor, design maker and idea realizer. With PicMonkey, you can open images created in PicMonkey directly in any of these options: your desktop PC or laptop, Facebook, OneDrive, Dropbox and Flickr accounts.
This graphic design software offers a 7-Day Free trial to all premium features when you sign up for a paid account. Apparently, this seems to be a common strategy to hook up new users.
Premium membership for PicMonkey starts at US$7.99 monthly. To subscribe to an annual membership, it will be US$47.88. (US$3.99 monthly) Premium offers Hub storage for 50 images, the ability to sort and re-edit these Hub images, advanced touch-up tools, Primo effects, overlays and fonts, etc. There is also a new higher paying plan called Supremium, which is priced at US$8.33 monthly. (Annually is US$99.99) It offers more features like unlimited Hub storage and allows you to organize Hub with Collections.
What I Like About PicMonkey
- Great and affordable price point compared to Canva or Snappa
- Slick and fast user interface to work with
- Great flexibility in terms of opening up images saved from various storage media
What I Don’t Like About PicMonkey
- Banner advs in the software interface that can distract your attention if you are using a free account
- No upload of custom logos or graphics option
STENCIL (Free and Paid)
Stencil, a similar tool to Canva (though not the same), is designed to save you time. It is catered to help you create beautiful looking images faster. At a single price, it gives you excess to 840,000+ background photos, 200,000+ icons and graphics, 50 beautiful templates, the option of uploading and storing multiple logos, and 34+ custom sizes for all your needs. It also comes with easy-to-use Chrome and Firefox Extensions.
Open a free account to use, but limited usage up to 10 images, backgrounds and icons. Price starts at US$9 monthly Pro plan (billed annually) and US$18 Unlimited plan (billed annually) for unlimited images and favorites for power users.
What I Like About Stencil
- Bundle stock libraries and icons at one great price!
- Clean and neat and fluid user interface to work with
- Ability to store up to 100 favorites and 25 Instagram SMS per month
- 7-Day Money Back Guarante
What I Don’t Like About Stencil
- None so far.
Similarly to Canva, Snappa provides almost a similar set of toolset for non-designers who publish content online. It’s super easy to use and has a great set of templates. You can sign up and set up your graphics online within a day. You will have access to 25,000 plus HD photos and graphics, unlimited professionally designed templates, social sharing, ability to save to multiple designs and folders, and the best feature – magic image resizing at a low cost!
In addition, Snappa offers comprehensive video tutorials, FAQs and provides in-house support. You can create a free account, but you can’t use the preset templates until you upgrade to a paid account.
Snappa is available for US$15 monthly while you save 33% by paying yearly at US$10 monthly.
What I Like About Snappa
- Lot of options on templates to choose from
- Decent user interface design and intuitiveness
What I Don’t Like About Snappa
- Can be costly if paid on an annual basis. Especially if you have a super tight budget to operate on
- No direct saving options to other storage platforms such as Dropbox or OneDrive
BEFUNKY (Free and Paid)
Befunky Photo Editor lets you apply photo effects, edit photos and create photo collages with collage maker. This wonderful online image-editing tool contains 3 modules namely the photo editor, collage maker and designer. The photo editor is fun to work with, easy to use with smart enhancement tools that can fix common problems such as poor lighting with a mouse click. You can also swap between the web and mobile UI with photo editor easily.
Next, comes the Collage Maker that enable you to create breathtaking online photo collages through the Collage Wizard. There are custom layout templates which make layouts for Pinterest and Facebook unique and outstanding from your competition.
Sign up Befunky Plus for 1 year at US$34.95 (US$2.91 monthly) or US$4.95 monthly.
What I Like About Befunky
- Streamlined user-friendly interfaces
- Drag and drop photos into collage template
- Customize background colors and patterns, etc.
- Save work to your computer, Facebook, Google Drive
- Freedom to design exactly the way you want it
What I Don’t Like About Befunky
- Banner advs in the software interface that can distract your attention if you are using a basic account
- Limited photo effects, designer and graphic templates, and up to only 2500px for high resolution output for basic accounts
PIXLR (Free and Paid)
Pixlr, which is developed by Autodesk, the author of 3D software, comes in desktop, mobile and web app platforms. It is a powerful photo image editor that allows you to create a personal touch by blending 2 photos with effects, overlays and borders to create your own unique results. An unique feature in the Pro membership is Text Masking, which allows you to mask your text with with an pattern, color or texture background!
It is free to setup, but requires membership of US$1.99 monthly (billed yearly at US$14.99) to subscribe.
What I Like About Pixlr
- Beautiful, intuitive and clean interface to work with
- Almost like Photoshop, but with a twist and refreshing change
- Super affordable and attractive price point
What I Don’t Like About PixIr
- Advanced features missing in FREE version, such as text masking, custom gradient masks, double exposure inside masks and blends modes to overlays
- No layering feature in FREE version. Once text is applied, it cannot be edited anymore on edited images
This is a very basic tool that allows you to choose a wide variety of shapes to create diagrams and charts. Essentially, it the bare minimum number of features that may be useful if you just need to put a basic photo with a normal title header. In terms of comparing with the rest of the graphic design software, it will be not be able to very fanciful designs or layout.
What I Like About Google Drawing
- It is FREE and online
- Well integrated with Google Drive, which means saving files are a breeze
What I Don’t Like About Google Drawing
- Too simple, may not be able to cater to more graphic needs in the future
- Lack of options and choices. Eg. No transparency option for creating shapes.
This software has been around since 1996. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and open source image editor, that is available for Linux, OS X, Windows and other operating systems. While it can be used to create icons and design elements and photo retouching, GIMP is a high quality framework for scripted image editing and programming language support such as C, C++, Perl, Python and more.
What I Like About GIMP
- It is FREE to use!
- Contains different operating platforms that you can choose from
What I Don’t Like About GIMP
- Complicated user interface which may not be suitable for beginners or non-designers
- Higher learning curve to master the usage of the tools
- Not web-based application, so you cannot use it on mobiles and tablets
So, there you have it. These 8 graphic design apps serve different graphic needs. There is no perfect software in this world. Rather, to base on your budgets and graphic needs is more important in getting the right and relevant tool for your business.
Personally, I would recommend the “newer” online graphic design tool like PicMonkey, Stencil or Canva. They are more mobile and that allows you to create a header or image even on the go. That alone, can be a very important factor in productivity if you need to get the job done quickly.
This is awesome, Brian. Thanks for sharing.. the video tutorial on Canva is particularly helpful since I’m so used to taking 10-15min to make a blog header image in Photoshop. I’m thinking Canva will be a much quicker solution for me moving forward.