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Siteground: The Best WordPress Web Hosting Compared To Other Hosts?

Siteground: The Best WordPress Web Hosting Compared To Other Hosts?

I am sure you can easily find a lot or expert reviews on Web Hosting on the internet while looking for the best and affordable ones. But to find the best WordPress web hosting and to experience the best service and support may not be possible until you have signed up for it. So the best thing is to read up on genuine and legitimate testimonial and reviews to ensure you have the right choice. And that’s precisely why I am providing this special personal review here in this post.

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.

Accordingly, this is what I have found online after scouting around for real answers to my problems in web hosting…

User testimonials on SiteGround’s speed and performance

User testimonials on SiteGround’s security

User testimonials on SiteGround’s support

Additionally, SiteGround has provided me some useful yet vital information and statistics about their speed, security and support during my enquiries about their services. These will give you a better idea and perspective about the level of support and service that you can get.

The results on this page are based on tests with real accounts on 12 of the most popular web hosts on the affiliate market: Bluehost, HostGator, iPage, Fatcow, Justhost, AsmallOrange, InMotion, WebhostingHub, Arvixe, GoDaddy, GreenGeeks and A2Hosting.

 

General Loading Speed

SiteGround had used Pingdom to test the loading time of identical WordPress websites hosted on the 12 different hosting companies. The faster loading result for SiteGround was achieved with the SuperCacher switched on for the website.

 

Performance

Apart from loading speed, SiteGround had tested how many hits can be successfully handled in two minutes by each of the 12 accounts with the same test WordPress website. The test was done with the help of the Siege testing and benchmark utility. The higher number of handled hits by SiteGround was achieved with the SuperCacher switched on for the website.

 

Hack Protection

SiteGround tested a WordPress and Joomla related vulnerabilities announce publicly more than a 1 month before the test. On all 12 tested hosts both vulnerability were still exploitable with no problem. At SiteGround both were patched on server level at SiteGround in up to 48 hours after their public announcement: WPTouch vulnerability patch and Virtuemart Vulnerability patch.

 

Account Isolation

SiteGround were the pioneers in applying effective account isolation mechanisms to the shared hosting environment. Nowadays, most of the shared hosts apply similar techniques but it is still possible to see an environment that is not properly isolated.

 

Phone

When you call on the phone you usually have a pressing issue. Having your call picked up immediately is really important. Unfortunately this does not happened everywhere.

 

Chat

SiteGround contacted the LiveChat of the 12 tested companies and SiteGround with one and the same simple request and recorded how much time was need for the issue resolution including the wait time before the chat was picked up.

 

Tickets

SiteGround asked each company 3 questions over their ticketing systems: one general, one WordPress related and one Joomla related. We averaged the first response time and the resolution times for each company base on these three questions.

  • Only SiteGround and 4 other companies resolved all the three issues.
  • Average industry resolution time: 11 hours.
  • SiteGround average resolution time: 31 minutes.

 

Personal Testimonial

Well, I have been using SiteGround’s GrowBig web hosting plan for the past 4 months. I am very happy with the service so far. The main reasons for the switch from JustHost were performance and support issues. Basically, I could not put up with slow accessing speed with JH and super long-wait queues for technical support. SiteGround does not give me that kind of problems; any Live Chat enquiries to tech support are immediately addressed within 2 to 5 minutes. I am really impressed with their service. What hooked me in is the Supercacher used and speed performance in assessing my sites that I am able to get out of WordPress hosting at SiteGround. For the price that I am paying, these features are a huge bonus and time-saver for me. Therefore, in my opinion, SiteGround is one of the best web hosts in terms of cost vs benefits on the market today.

While researching on the web for WordPress web hosting providers, I have also found a very good and detailed review about SiteGround. Here’s a great and detailed review on SiteGround for WordPress Web Hosting.

Expert WordPress Hosting

SiteGround provides superior WordPress hosting focused on speed, security and customer service. They take care of WordPress sites security with unique server-level customizations, WP auto-updates, and daily backups. They make them faster by regularly upgrading our hardware, offering free CDN with Railgun and developing their SuperCacher that speeds sites up to 100 times! And last but not least, they provide real WordPress help 24/7! Learn more about SiteGround WordPress Hosting.

6 High-Quality eBook Cover Design Software to Make Enticing and Appealing Digital Products

6 High-Quality eBook Cover Design Software to Make Enticing and Appealing Digital Products

If you are just like me, a small business owner, are looking for graph design software to create your next book cover design or video/audio product, at some point you will be searching for the right piece of design software. While some of us may have some basic knowledge of using Photoshop to create great graphics and ecovers, the majority of us are not graphically trained. Hence, in this post today, I have outlined some useful resources for you to explore pertaining to making your own book cover.

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.

 

1. CANVA (Free or Paid)

Create a book cover design in Canva

One of the most popular online software that you can use as a business owner is Canva. You can easily sign up a free account and start using it right away. It is an online graphic design tool, unlike photoshop, that enables you to create, edit any graphics, be it a book cover design, poster, DVD ecover design or even a ad banner anywhere and whenever you are. The only thing you need is a good reliable internet connection to work.  The beautiful user interface is easy to use, intuitive and graphically manageable. You can simply use the free account all the while. But subscribing (upgrading) to a Canva for Work account will allow you to save custom graphics into its library and retrieve for further editing.

Nonetheless, the graphics that you can create out of Canva are usually more of a 2-dimensional kind. In other words, if you are looking to make a 3D type of ebook cover or graphic, then you will not be able to achieve that. The following tools that will be discussed will help you to achieve that. Below is a curated video that I have found to be informative and can give beginners in handling graphics on their own a great idea and insight on the how-tos. So check it out.

2. PIXEL STUDIO FX (Paid)

Instantly Create Professional High Converting eCovers In Seconds Using Pixel Studio FX

It is also an online ebook software. Using this ebook software, you can make all sorts of graphics, including 2D and 3D versions. If you need to create a book standing up (just like the real book in the bookstore) or a video product presentation, you can do all of these within it. Once, you bought Pixel Studio FX, you can create and edit your own graphics and make them in 3D and life-like with shadows, transparencies and stacking up against with series of books or DVDs to create product bundles.

Below is a video that showcases how one can create graphics easily and quickly using Pixel Studio FX.

3. My eCover Maker (Paid)

My eCoverMaker

This is similar to Pixel Studio FX. My eCover Maker offers ebook cover design using an online browser experience. All options and steps can be easily achieved within the software, using the built-in templates and graphics. Of course, if you do not like what are presented there, you can import using your own graphics, and still be able to create your own custom 3D graphics by assembling all elements together. The following video should give you a better insight.

4. eCover Suite Elite (Paid)

Create Professional Looking eCovers Instantly with eCoverSuiteElite
This is a more specialized ebook cover maker. This set of actions will require Photoshop in order to work out properly. Therefore, you need some basic knowledge of using actions in Photoshop. eCoverSuiteElite consists of an amazingly huge set of actions, which you can utilize them fully to develop informational products such as ebook covers, video/audio presentation DVD  ecovers, e-courses or even software box designs. And the best thing is that all these graphics can be generated at 300 dots per inch high resolutions for both print and web. You just have create once and apply them for all your printing needs and adapted further for the web medium at lower resolutions.

The only hurdle for beginners is that there will be a learning curve to understand fully how these actions worked within Photoshop. Once you get through that, it will be easier to use!

5. Cover Actions Premium (Paid)

Discover Cover Actions Premium ecover creator

Cover Actions Premium is an another useful ebook cover maker for making all sorts of 3D and 2D designs. The actions presented here are frequently updated. They offer a bit more uniqueness in that these actions contain more variations and choices which one can choose from. Help instructions are given for each action to assist you to get the results you wanted based on the end result of the 3D shots shown.

I did a video on Cover Actions Premium quite some time ago, demonstrating how I create a bundle of DVDs based on a mockup theme on Dog training. It was a bit dated, especially the quality of the video. Nevertheless, I feel that it can give you a good idea of how the action templates worked in Photoshop.

6. Photoshop Action Scripts (Paid)

Yet another vendor who offers the same action scripts as eCoverSuiteElite. Essentially, they have almost identical templates. Once you have installed the scripts inside Photoshop Actions panel, you are really to rock and roll. Simply create from a 2D image or photo collage of text and images, and you can achieve a 3D mockup of book cover design within Photoshop Action Scripts almost immediately. Check out my video below on how I did a magazine cover using this ebook creator.

So there you have it. Hope this list of ecover software can help you greatly in coming up with your own cover designs that you will be proud of. If there are any new ones, I shall add them in the next update. In the mean time, have fun with it!

12 Good Quality Stock Image Libraries You Can Tap On for Your Online Business

12 Good Quality Stock Image Libraries You Can Tap On for Your Online Business

Images. Everybody loves good quality and beautiful images. It is especially important if you are using them for your websites and corporate identities. It defines your business brand and helps your customer to remember you better. Hence, investing on using the right and appropriate photo images are crucial in creating the premium and high quality look and feel for your websites. In this article, I am going to help list down what are the current best sites to source for royalty free images.

Shutterstock

Check out Shutterstock

Shutterstock is an old kid on the block. This image provider has been around for more than 10 years, and that it has evolved well with time. It started with providing royalty free images and vectors, but now it even extends to selling video footages and music tracks as well. This gigantic library contains over 100 million royalty-free stock images, with over 800,000 new stock images added weekly. It has a wide range of stock photos to choose from, so much so that you may be spoiled for choices. I personally have used this image site in the initial years and I found the pricing was reasonable back then. It gives me a great user experience. The user interface was well organized and intuitive to use, with a great search function that I always use to find images with keywords.

However, with time and after site revamps, Shutterstock has increased its prices. Unless you have a big budget for premium and exclusive stock photography, I would suggest that you should look for alternatives for your copyright free images elsewhere.

iStock

Check out iStock

This site has evolved much since my earlier days of use. To me, this is the 2nd favorite site for great photo images and vectors. It has since been acquired by Getty Images. The quality of iStock images has always been great, if not better than Shutterstock. Now, it offers users with equally good choices with illustrations (drawings), audio and videos as well. Lots of selections to pick from. The key difference in pricing is that iStock offers users with either recurring monthly or yearly subscriptions or one-at-a-time credits. This is especially helpful for people with different levels of budgets. To me, its pricing is affordable on average. Of course, one can find cheaper images elsewhere. However, one should do the research carefully as there are other factors to consider, such as the quality and aesthetic side of the photos taken.

Dreamstime

Check out Dreamstime

Dreamstime also has been selling images for a long time. It also has since expanded its selections from simply stock images to illustrations, audio and videos. Although I do not use Dreamstime often, I found there are certain advantages in using Dreamstime. I saw that it provides a section of free images in its menu. Even though these are not comparable in standards with the paid ones, they still provide some value-added for those of us who are looking for free stock images online. The site also sells its photos and videos through a credit system and subscription-based plan model. Hence, its pricing structure is almost identical to iStock. Do compare and contrast to get the best value out of your investment.

123RF

Check out 123RF

123RF offers reasonable rates for copyright free images. For those who have limited budgets, this may be a better alternative to others. It comes with on-demand credits and subscription plans in local currency. Again, depending on your needs, invest on a subscription if you are frequently using stock photos for your social media, websites and printed related literature. On the other hand, if you do not use photo images or infographics frequently, then adopting an on-demand credit plan may work better for you. Based on my earlier limited experiences with 123RF, it offers decent photo quality images and icons. If you want to avoid those commonly overused icons and images, then you may be better off with getting premium ones from other stock photo sites instead.

Getty Images

Check out Getty Images

This site has offered super premium, a wide scope and very high-quality photo images for many years. The images on sale here spans across all kinds of categories and subject matters. One can find all kinds of images, video and music libraries. Although, it claims that it has the world’s deepest digital archive for the most iconic historical content, one may not be sure until one starts to explore deep into its stock libraries while searching. Incidentally, iStock and Ultrapacks (another stock image bank) images are also part of Getty Images‘ acquisition. It also offers a higher level of creative and uniquely best type of images specially catered for those looking for exclusivity in corporate identity and branding. This definitely is for those businesses with wide and deep pockets to spend!

Adobe Stock

Check out Adobe Stock

Adobe has just introduced its own stock library not too long ago. Besides competing for the same pie in the already competitive photo sites’ market, Adobe has actually positioned its stock library facility well in that it is tightly integrated into its Adobe Creative CC family of products. Within each Adobe software, you can conveniently locate and manage your purchased Adobe stock images right inside the Libraries panels. You can first preview  watermarked images as you work on the designs in Adobe software, license and utilise them directly the Libraries. This can be a huge time-saver and ease of use when comes tro managing your images under one account and one common interface in all Adobe software. In addition, Adobe also offers its own stock premium collection, whose inspiring images are curated from selective contributors. Of course, you have to be prepared to fork out premium prices for all its subscription plans. Also, Adobe stock library does not support direct purchase of images in certain countries. You should first find out by logging onto your account and test if you can purchase Adobe images directly from inside your account.

Pixtastock

Check out Pixta Stock

Pixastock is one of lesser known picture websites, as far as I am concerned. One can buy stock photos, vectors and footage either by single purchases or subscription plans as well. By single purchases, it means that one pays for the type of images used in different medium. For instance, you pay a certain price in local currency for image used on a website, whereas another pricing for an image used for A4 brochure. A good bonus about this site is that you can sign up a free account to download free images or footage on a selected basis. However, I found personally that its subscription plan for 25 image downloads at $288 local currency per month is a bit on the high side for my budget though. You may think likewise.

Photodune

Check out Photodune

Photodune is a stock image library that is part of the larger community group called Envato Market. Envato offers a whole range of solutions ranging from images, graphics, web templates, video footages, audio, coding scripts and 3d modeling. Though Photodune does not have such extensive selections of photos to choose from, it may serve your needs in a different way. Typically, you can get a standard license of any high resolution image at between US$6 to US$10 per image, or pay more for extended license. Well, you can use Photodune as an addiitonal bonus site for your photos’ needs if case you run out of choices, which is highly unlikely.

Pond5

Check out Pond5

Pond5 gives you access to reasonable membership prices that includes more than 200,000 videos, images, sound effects, music tracks, 3D and even photoshop psd files. This is also one of the sites that is well equipped with huge selections of choices from different price points, hence you can often find something that works for you. What I like about Pond5 is that it got a clean and intuitive interface that I enjoy using it. The video footages are exceptionally expansive and interesting to browse and get engrossed in. Even though I find it expensive to a certain extent to be a member, the quality of the content, be it a video or an image, is really high quality and there is a premium feel to it. I would like to give it a try once my budget allows.

Pixabay

Check out Pixabay

Pixabay offers FREE images. Yes, free images. I think for those of us who have no budgets to invest on an online business, this is a huge bonus and great free resource to begin with! One cannot have no images on a business website. At Pixabay you may find and share images free of copyrights. Accordingly, all pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain. By searching, you can find photos, vector graphics, illustrations and videos readily for downloads. However, there is a trade-off. Since this site offers free stuff, the quality of these content are limited to a certain extent. One may not be able to find anything that matches your needs. Personally, I find the images are rather average in terms of photographic angle or perspective. In other words, do not expect any wows or much aesthetics from getting free stuff. Nevertheless, this is a good starting point for beginners.

Unsplash

unSplash

Yet another pure FREE! site that offers high-resolution photos. You can simply come here and download any of these big beautiful images classified in almost all kinds of different collections. The categories are divided into lifestyle bloggers, favorite florals, shopping, coffee house, drone captures, science, landscapes, nature, blossoms bloom, street life, into the wild, facial recognition, healthy living, emotions, backgrounds, pets, people, music & sound, textures and holidays. You can explore and search to your hearts’ content.

These images are free to use under the Unsplash License. By that, it states that all photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero. This implies that you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash. I believe this  is what the majority of us are looking out for when it comes to finding unique and high resolution photos to work with. You can even receive the best of Unsplash images delivered to your inbox by simply subscribing.

The disadvantage of using free images from such a site may be that they have been downloaded multiple times for use on many sites, and many times that they are no longer look unique or special. Hence, if you are really looking to use them freely on your sites, you may have to find a way to make them look fresh and interesting by either cropping the images, or use photo effects to make them look really authentic and special. However, there is no harm exploring this free source for a start. At the very least, you do not have to get bogged down by costs of paying for licensed images when trying to kick start your own online business.

thestocks.im

theStocks

theStocks is a collection of free stock photo images online. The collections of photo sites found here are some of the lesser known ones. It is a full conglomeration that richly consists of photos, colors, icons, videos, mockups and fonts. I must say this is a huge but free library of resource that one can download for use in your projects. You will come across some of the photo sites that I have already mentioned in the above list as well.

Nevertheless, you will find some fresh perspectives of photos and styles offered by the various photographers. Look around and you will observe that there are indeed a lot of lesser known photographers who are willing to offer you free photos to use on your sites. I do find some of them interesting though. Who knows that you can also get some fresh ideas about how you want to use these free resources. You can again simply subscribed to theStocks‘ newsletter to have the best royalty free stock photos are delivered to your mailbox.

So let’s start taking your picks!

Of course, this list is by no means conclusive. There are many more websites that offer either free or paid royalty-free stock images or graphics. To be able to select the right site for your photo needs takes time and research. I hope I have given you some useful insights on good quality stock image references for you to make a better informed decision. The true test comes only when you start using them over time. Only then, will you know exactly whether the stock image site has served your needs well.

10 Fantastic Resources for Infographic Design and Vectors

10 Fantastic Resources for Infographic Design and Vectors

If you are aware, infographic design is very important and popular as part of the marketing of one’s business and services. Hence, many online businesses are willing to invest time and money to enhance the creation and delivery of their products and services to their targeted audience. Today, I am sharing with you a great resource on how to find some best infographics online instead of creating them one by one from scratch.

The Noun Project

This is one of the leading and extensive sites for icon design and downloads. The Noun Project offers a free account, and an upgrade to Pro status. I have used this site and the quality of this site’s icons is fantastic. These website icons are in-line with current market trends and very up-to-date. I would highly recommend using this site for all your infographics design needs if you have a good budget of investing US$9.99 per month. Of course, you can just sign up with a free membership, but you are limited to certain icons usage and downloads. You also have to give credit to the creator when you download icons for free. However, you can purchase individual royalty free icons for only $1.99. Let’s say if you have selected a favorite icon that you would like to use for your website, you can get that icon for only US$1.99 instead of paying for monthly or yearly membership.

Freepik

Freepik is another great icon and infographic resource for finding free web icons online. It is not just about icons, but also one can find free vectors, psd and photos here. It is an extensive database for graphics rather. I found myself downloading a lot of all these icons for use in my web projects. I can also fine-tune and edit these icons by changing colors and scaling them up and down without loss of quality. This is especially true if you download them as .SVG or .EPS as these vector formats allow me to get high quality icon designs for use in virtually in any design project. You can upgrade to premium account to enjoy wider choices to something like 130,500 graphics vectors, and access to 15,100 Premium vectors for US$9.99 per month. Further, you get unlimited downloads and no ads.

Icons 8

Icons8 is yet another one of the top-quality and premium site for website icons. The best thing is that you have 38,000 free flat icons at your disposal. All icons are available in these popular categories, with icons in business, city, clothing, food and holidays. These icons have a consistent single style, which allows you to apply them with ease, without having to worry about differences in style. Best of all, these vectors are editable. Other features such as font generator, icon recoloring, quick search as Mac and Win App make utilizing these fonts a breeze. In addition, it allows direct html embedding, and also there is this useful feature like drag and drop direct to Illustrator and Photoshop. So if you are looking for ease of use, quick change of colors and customizing of icons, this is the site to go for. Of course, choosing premium does have its special perks. Check out the prices here.

Flaticon

Flaticon is a project created for and by designers and developers. These free icons come in PNG, SVG, EPS, PSD and BASE 64 formats, and all icons are grouped in packs. There are huge selections of styles and forms to choose from. It offers similar features that of Icon8, but it got more variety of icons to choose from. You can manage your fonts through sets of icon collections, scale your icons’ sizes either in either bitmaps or vectors, customize every icon to the color you desire, and create your own icons font to use it in your web project. So there are a lot of flexibility and options here. Again, there is the free version which only allows you to use up to 257,000+ icons. In contrast, the premium membership that charges at US$7.50 monthly payble yearly gives you plenty of other features, such as unlimited collections, full use of macOS App, and the best thing – no ads that are distracting your attention.

IconFinder

At Iconfinder, it offers lots of premium icon sets sold separately and monthly premium membership. It has lots of colorful icon designs and many icon categories to choose from. Subscription starts from US$9 per month (up to 25 downloads) for single user use and US$29 per month for unlimited downloads. I would say the variety of icons found here are richer and they have got more selections to choose.

Fontawesome

Essentially, this is one font that comes with 675 Icons. In a single collection, Font Awesome is a pictographic language of web-related actions and CSS toolkit. It is the de facto standard for use in today’s website design that utilizes Bootstrap framework. One can easily adopt the use of Fontawesome easily and quickly in one’s web projects. It allows us to beautify and apply typography on the web on a grander scale and have more options for fancier web layout. If you choose this, you need to have some working knowledge of CSS coding in order to code the icons to display correctly on web pages. Nevertheless, this can be a good alternative for those who knows how to code.

Material Icons

Material icons are freely distributed by Google, as they are made available under the Apache License Version 2.0.  It’s lightweight, easy to use, and hosted by Google Web Fonts. You can simply select any of these icons, and download them either as SVG or PNG file formats for use. Although the style of the icons portrayed here is very much standard and plain, one can use them if one is not so particularly concerned about the aesthetics of the style.

Icons Mind

Icons Mind also provides lots of icons and its packs, more specially for iOS & Android platforms. With 2,080 icons in 53 different categories, these icons look more crafty and creative than the norm. Hence, if you choose to use these icons, it does gives made your icons’ presentation and design more unique and special. In other words, your websites or products will stand out more among the usual vanilla websites. These icon designs would definitely impress designers more as they are of better quality and pixel perfect.

Fontastic

Fontastic allows you to save time by easily generating custom icon fonts, import your own icons to make unique and personalised collections from SVG files. This site offers over 9,000 ready-to-use icons that can be resized automatically to the users’ screen, no matter how big or small. Furthermore, this site features something that no other font resource site has so far. That is, it offers instant syn changes with its servers. If one utilizes a range of devices one will discover precisely the same icons, fonts and settings on all of them. Next, one can control or edit all projects in a single place. Produce an unlimited number of fonts and assign one per website or application. Add on or edit icons and the changes will occur everywhere immediately. Lastly, it allows one’s icons to be published with just one click! Fontastic hosts all icons on fast and reliable hosting, hence they can be delivered quickly.

Iconic

What Iconic offers here is identical to what Fontawesome does. Basically, it is a font and icon toolkit that is responsive, multi-weight and production ready. In terms of design, these icons are designed to be legible, each icon weight follows a specific grid system, and that fonts are readily for use in CSS, SCSS, LESS  stylesheets. In flexibility terms, they are Bootstrap and Foundation framework ready. When it comes to performance, these fonts are packed to a small file-size, and highly optimized when compared to other font system framework. Again, I want to stress that one needs to know some CSS knowledge in order to use this icon set effectively and efficiently.

All right, this list is by no means exhaustive, I must say. However, these sites are currently the most searched for and easily found by search engines. If you have any infographic references which you think it is beneficial, kindly feedback or suggest on the comments section found below. And if you would like to hear from me with more free updates on graphic design tools or solutions that can help you on your online business, then I encourage you to subscribe to mini-course and tutorials.

8 Graphic Design Tools for Creating Impressive and Great-Looking Websites

8 Graphic Design Tools for Creating Impressive and Great-Looking Websites

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 (Paid)

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.

 

SNAPPA (Paid)

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

 

Google Drawings

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.

 

GIMP (Free)

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.
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