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 for creating visuals to go along with their work.
If you want to spruce up your portfolio, create a cover for an e-book, or need to images for a post, check these sites.
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 experience wanderlust, Unsplash won’t help 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 anywhere (as long as you have internet, of course).
Canva provides free stock photos and backgrounds, 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. However, using a site like Canva gives you a solid 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 template, I wrote the headline and changed 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 information and stats, this site gives you what you need to share data in neat ways.
Whether your favorite chart is pie, bar, dot, or line, you have a wide variety of choices. 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 to the next level. Also, a basic account doesn’t allow you to download your infographics. Luckily, 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 sites or online tools for creating visuals and graphics? Let us know in the comments!