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Graphic Design

When you want to make a quick flyer to advertise your yard sale or pull together a quick birthday card for your Mom, what app do you open first? Odds are, Word or PowerPoint. The former’s ubiquitous for page layout designs, even though its not really meant for it, and the latter was the app I used to reach for simply because it’s easy to use for basic graphics-heavy layouts. Either way, you could always get something basic whipped up in 5 minutes, flat, and it’d look ok.

Don’t settle for ok anymore, and don’t worry about needing more than 5 minutes. Canva, a brand-new online design tool, makes quick graphics design simpler than ever — and its results actually look great.

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Everyone’s taking the time to archive and share every beautiful thing they see on Instagram these days. Far more than just a simple snapshot, for most of us an Instagram photo requires just the right angle, just the right field of vision, and just the right filter. The finished work, far from being a real photo, is a little bit of art that anyone can make.

Short phrases are just as important these days. We think up the perfect witty 140 character phrases in response to everything happening around us, just for the @replies and retweets. But unlike Instagramed photos, there’s none of the timeless, artistic effects to our snippets of digital conversation.

Notegraphy is a brand new app that’s designed to bring the sense of wonder and essence of art to snippets of text. It’s a fun new way to share ideas, one that I’ve taken a liking to since I first tried it several months back.

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When we browse the web, or flick through the latest updates on our favourite networks, the unstoppable flow of graphics which bombards our eyeballs is remarkable, and bewildering, in equal measure. We are seeking content, but our gaze falls just as frequently on adverts, profile pictures, banners and logos. These often feel like visual distractions, but quality graphics are unquestionably a key component of any marketing push.

Sadly, for many small business owners, and for individuals wishing to raise their personal profile, it is a component which is out of reach. For many businesses, high quality, professionally-devised branding seems like an extravagantly large investment in these times of financial hardship. Equally, graphic design is by no means a universally held skill. The complexity of most popular graphics apps is also a significant barrier to entry, meaning bootstrap branding may not be an option.

That’s where new online graphics editor Canva, currently in private beta, wants to intervene. Amongst its ingredients you will find a vast image library, numerous preset layouts, a range of commonly used print and online document sizes, and a plethora of professionally created, ready-to-go graphics. On the face of it, you might wonder why something like this hasn’t come to market before. The question is: does Canva reinforce this point, or does it actually illustrate why web-based graphics composition is still, largely, an untamed beast?

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You’ve made a design, and need some quick feedback on it. So, you upload it to CloudApp, share the link on Twitter, and wait for the @replies to come in. At best, you’ll get 140 character replies, letting you know what needs fixed. But good luck figuring out exactly what they’re talking about, since they can’t point to the spot on the design they’re talking about to show you.

There’s dozens of apps for feedback on designs, but most at least require you to make an account and at worst require those giving you feedback to make an account. How about something radically simpler?

That’s what Red Pen is. You upload a file, get pointed feedback, and go. That’s it. (more…)

If you’re a designer — or an aspiring designer, or perhaps just someone who loves seeing beautiful pixel art — you’ve surely heard of Dribbble. The “Twitter for designers”, of a sort, Dribbble is the place to showcase shots of your latest design creations. It’s hardly a new site, and we actually reviewed it originally 3 years ago.

I’ve been playing around as designer for the past few months, especially after I was drafted on Dribbble. Then I wondered about going Pro, because, you know, the badge fits my color palette and I thought: “What if our readers ponder the same thing?”. So we’ll be looking through the pros and cons of going Pro on Dribble and by the end of the article I’ll be drafting one of our readers. That’s today’s game.

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If I could point out the most valuable asset on the internet these days, it would be honest feedback. That’s because people want to have their works evaluated, but the average user doesn’t want to review someone’s else project, especially at its early stages. When we want feedback, though, we usually want immediate results, and this void has created a market for quacks who say what you want to hear instead of how could you improve.

Often services that offer image display turn out as design showcases, regardless of their viability of comments. Hunie comes to change the game, as a place to host your designs and get honest feedback for a tiny price: your own critiques to other users sketches. It’s a pay it forward model that just might work.

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There’s still plenty of online image editors, even though Aviary and Picnik have closed up shop. When you need a quick way to edit images, and don’t have Photoshop or other photo editors on your computer, web apps can sure come in handy, and it’s great there’s still a selection of them. If you are a regular reader of Web.AppStorm, you know we have covered tools like Pixlr and Photo Raster in past for simple online photo edits.

This week, though we’ve got a more advanced app to put through the paces: Picozu. After the break, we’ll see what makes it great and if it’s the photo editor you should try for your online edits.

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There is no dearth of apps that apps that let you share, comment and collaborate on images on the web. There has been quite a trend towards apps aimed at creative freelancers and agencies with the aim of streamlining and centralizing the artwork review phase of a design project. We have already looked at Invision, Cage and a few others.

A new contender in this league is Notism. Let’s take a look at what it brings to the table and if there are any unique offerings that will pull you away from whatever you’re currently using for design review and collaboration. (more…)

Infographics are everywhere these days. There are Tumblrs and blogs full of them, countless articles discussing and collecting them and we can certainly all conjure up a mental image of a memorable infographic. And of course this array of infographics is quite discursive, covering everything from timelines to business data to mixing cocktails.

If you want to hop on the infographic bandwagon, you can always try creating an infographic in any old graphic design program you might have. Unfortunately, without a lot of font and image downloads, you won’t be able to capture the characteristic look of the infographics we all know and love. That’s where Piktochart comes in, a web app which allows you to create and customize infographics for personal and professional use. I took the time to explore what it’s like to make an infographic in this dedicated program, so stick with me after the jump to find out whether Piktochart is worth your time and money.

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As a freelance writer, it seems like I’m always sending my resume out. Sometimes this causes some issues, usually with file compatability. I try to send a PDF, but this doesn’t always eradicate the problems and my resume isn’t always viewed the way it’s meant to be. Due to these issues, I’ve been searching for different ways to put my resume online. Simply hosting and displaying the PDF online is an obvious option, but I’ve also discovered a number of services which allow you to place your resume information online in unique ways.

Vizualize.me is one of these services, an app which allows you to produce an infographic style resume. You start by filling in the sections present in the app (things like education and skills), then choose a theme and save. It’s a simple and straightforward service with some fun customization options and pretty cool results. Stick with me after the jump to see the kind of things you can create with Visualize.me.

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