Let’s face it: most amateur and small business posters and fliers are terrible — mismatched fonts, bad alignment, garish color schemes, and that’s just getting started. They are made in a hurry by people who don’t know what they’re doing. Then they get posted on a local bulletin board, and who looks at those?
Tackk makes it easy to quickly create fliers, posters, announcements, web pages, and other simple fire-and-forget notes, and share them on the web. It has a beautiful, clean design, and plenty of room for customization. It has its own virtual bulletin board to share your filer, in addition to social network sharing options, and you can print your creations out to stick on a real bulletin board if you wish. Let’s take a closer look to see if it holds up to scrutiny.
The Tackk homepage is itself an editable Tackk poster. Each Tackk is made up of several elements that fit together like pieces on a magnet board — every block can be moved up or down, with the poster automatically realigned. You don’t have to have a headline at the top (or at all).
You can have any combination of headings, body text, lists, images, buttons, photos (either individually or as a slideshow), and media embeds. Adding them is as simple as choosing the element from the Add More Stuff menu at the bottom of the Tackk or the + button that appears when you mouse over an existing section, while deletion involves mousing over and clicking the X. You can move these fields using the Move Up/Move Down arrows to the left of them.
Everything gets saved automatically after each change. There are undo buttons on all of the fields, though, so don’t worry if you make a mistake. I love how easy and straightforward it is.
Headlines come in three sizes, so you can mix and match subheadings with major headings. They can also be center-, right-, or left-aligned. Body text cannot be resized, but it can be formatted with italics, bold, underline, and links. The Fonts control in the Editor panel affects headlines, as do color changes. Body and list text is always the same font and color.
There are fifteen backgrounds to choose from, most of which are geometric patterns. Like headlines, the color controls affect their appearance. You can’t upload your own background, unfortunately, but it’s easy to find one from the selection that looks nice with your Tackk.
You can also add a contact form, map, and comments box, as well as choose between rounded or square corners. If you want your Tackk to be private to only people with the link, toggle the Tackkboard switch (under Options) to no; otherwise it could appear on the Tackkboard. Not all public Tackks show up on the Tackkboard, though — my extremely silly test Tackk still isn’t listed, for instance.
Tackks expire after seven days, unless you create an account. Having an account (currently free) also allows you to create and manage multiple Tackks and set custom URLs. Once finished, you can share a Tackk directly via email or any of seven different social networks (or just copy and paste the link).
A Helping Hand
Few things are as intimidating as a blank page (believe me, as a professional writer, I know). With that in mind, you start with a sample Tackk that explains the basics. Over on the left of screen there are two expandable menu tabs. Starter gives a quick overview of how it works and what you can do. Themes helps get your imagination in gear with six templates for common expected uses.
Anything presents you with the default Tackk (only with a different image). Events shows a sample music gig announcement, while Business advertises a bakery and an offer of a free muffin. The other three are Housing, For Sale, and Announce. You don’t have to follow the templates, or limit your uses to only these. I spent a couple of minutes brainstorming ideas for possible Tackks, for anyone still not sure what purpose the app might have: press release, flier, poster, recipe, photo album, memorial, proposal, band page, report, advertisement, real-estate listing.
For all its options and tools, and the gorgeous design and user interface, Tackk feels somewhat constrained. You can’t mix colors. The body text is always the same font. You can’t upload your own background. The main poster is always white and of fixed width, like a sheet of A4 paper.
This one size fits all approach may ensure consistently attractive pages, but it significantly limits the options for people who want more control and it encourages same-y-ness (did I make that word up?). It’s hard to make something ugly with Tackk, but a quick glance through the Tackkboard shows that it’s also hard to make something that stands out at a distance from everything else created with Tackk.
That could prove to be a problem, as few people will go to the trouble of reading before deciding if they’re interested. We’re all busy people these days; if something doesn’t catch our eye, we tend not to bother with it.
Tackk isn’t the only e-poster/flier publishing tool around. Checkthis has been around for a while and offers similar results. Its design is not as impressive, and there are fewer font choices, but you can customize the color of the body text and Block (unlike Tackk). It also allows uploads of custom background images. This is enough to get past my concerns about Tackk’s uniformity of poster appearance, but I have reservations about the user interface and quality control.
Smore‘s UI is not as attractive (although it isn’t ugly, either), and it currently takes a lot more work to get started, but it offers far more flexibility in terms of layout and was built with mobile in mind. Your posters automatically get reformatted to fit on small screens. As with Checkthis, Smore’s interface doesn’t match up to Tackk’s effortless grace (although the drag-and-drop implementation is pretty nifty). If you need fine-grained control or want detailed analytics, Smore looks to be the best option — so keep it in mind if Tackk seems too basic for your needs.
A Great Start
Competition breeds innovation, and Tackk has very strong competitors. I’ll be fascinated to see who wins out. In the meantime, it’s a fantastic web app for creating beautiful posters and fliers with minimal effort. Both the overall design and the user interface in particular are brilliant, and they more than make up for a few missing features.
Tackk’s still in beta, having only recently gone public, so there’s a long road ahead and plenty of time to fix the shortcomings. But it’s already living up to the billing as a simple tool to instantly create and share content — removing the need to go through the tedium of a lumbering CMS or a blogging platform like WordPress and Blogger just to advertise a band gig, sell a car, complain about semi-colons, share photos and memories from a trip, post a recipe, or whatever else you might want to publish painlessly.
In the interests of full disclosure, I feel obliged to state that I work with Tackk’s CTO on an unrelated project. I have no other involvement with Tackk whatsoever.