Just like the writing found in print, web writing should be accompanied by visual elements. Luckily, even the design-challenged among us can utilize online tools to create visuals to go along with their work.
If you want to spruce up your online portfolio, create a cover for your e-book, throw some color on your personal blog or need to include images with a freelance assignment, these sites can help you out.
When you think of stock photos you might picture robotic-looking models and clearly staged set-ups. But this stock photo website is anything but ordinary. Unsplash belongs to a new generation of stock imagery, where the photo’s subject, whether it’s a person, object or landscape, looks and feels completely natural.
WARNING: If you already feel a lot of wanderlust, Unsplash will do nothing to help you put a damper on those feelings, so be prepared.
Each photo is not only beautifully composed, but all photos are free to use, remix and redistribute under Creative Commons Zero with no credit necessary. You can turn their hi-res photos into literally anything for any purpose. Every 10 days, 10 new photos are added, so you’ll hopefully be able to find a photo for any occasion.
Unsplash uses endless scrolling on their home page, so if you’re looking to have a moment of inspiration as you go through photos from around the world, that would be your best bet. You can also search by keywords or browse their collections.
If you are going to use the search function, basic keywords are most effective; for example, stick to a term like “fruit” instead of narrowing it down specifically to apples. The results for a search as simple as a color bring up pictures of just about anything you can imagine.
A few personal favorites from Unsplash:
Think of Canva as a watered down version of Adobe InDesign with a little Illustrator and Photoshop thrown in as well. You can make graphics for just about anything, and they have the templates there to help you do it. Because it’s all online, you can work on your projects no matter where you are (as long as you have internet, of course).
Canva has free stock photos and backgrounds you can use, or you can upload photos yourself (perhaps from Unsplash). Though some photos, layouts, and icons do need to be paid for, the free elements are practically endless and of similar, if not equal, quality.
If you need help deciding on layouts, colors, fonts, etc. for online graphics, Canva is a great place to start. No program should be a replacement for learning design principles, but using a site like Canva can give you a great foundation for understanding what looks good and what doesn’t.
You can share what you create with links or via Facebook and Twitter, or there are options to download your designs as photos and PDFs.
While Canva is great for online graphics, if you make something you love that you want printed, the download options include a high quality “PDF for print” file.
Things I’ve made with Canva templates:
Using an Instagram template, I took a quote I found on the AdvicetoWriters Twitter account, chose a different font and played around with the size until it fit the space in a way I liked.
After choosing this blog graphic template, pretty much all I did was write the headline and change the size of each line of text. Easy as pie.
Some might say we’re in the age of infographics, and Infogram is here to help us all. With templates galore to showcase all sorts information and stats, this site gives you all the tools you need to share information in understandable ways.
Whether your favorite chart is pie, bar, dot or line, you have a wide variety of choices for how to present your information. Even if you don’t have numbers, there are design options for word clouds and presenting facts.
There is a paid version of Infogram for those who need to take their stats and analytics to the next level. A basic account doesn’t allow you to download your infographics, but for most people the free version will still be more than sufficient. Simple links allow you to embed your infographics with ease and, depending on the type of chart, allow readers to interact with the data.
How I’ve utilized Infogram:
This doughnut chart shows the breakdown of article-related emails WritersDomain Support received for the second quarter of 2016. Infogram’s pie charts and doughnut charts are particularly great ways to compare numbers thanks to their interactive nature. Instead of having a separate chart for every single month, it’s easy to flip between each one to see how many emails related to Standards and Premiums Support answered.
Learning graphic design principles and creating visual elements are intimidating tasks. Anyone can start practicing with sites like these, and there are plenty of blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to helping you understand what looks good (and what doesn’t).
What are you favorite tools or sites for creating visuals and graphics? Let us know in the comments!