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Transform your business with the best graphic design software and photo editing tools for marketing materials and social media, as recommended by Geeks2U.
Got a creative project that needs a pinch of pizzazz? These days, when everyone’s competing for eyeballs in a media-saturated world, using your basic word processing programme to design marketing materials for your business simply won’t cut it. Instead, here’s our pick of all the best graphic design software and photo editing tools available in the market today, with pro advice from Anthony Hill, Head of Technology at Geeks2U.
“Probably the most common graphic design software is Adobe Creative, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign,” says Anthony. “They are the best.” Sounds like a glowing review, right? That’s because Adobe leads the way in this field, producing some 20 different types of software for photo editing, graphic design, page layouts, web design and digital illustration and animation.
If your business requires marketing materials, like pamphlets and business cards, or images and graphics for the web are a big priority, you should absolutely consider investing in Adobe Creative products. According to their website, more than 90% of the world’s creative professionals use Photoshop as a photo editing tool and their products offer comprehensive packages of tools, templates and effects, a dizzying array of design possibilities that may overwhelm the novice user at first. “But these days they are getting a lot better with their in-program tutorials, assistance and tool tips,” Anthony notes. “Plus, there’s a lot of non-affiliated tutorials and videos out there as well.”
Strong imagery is essential for many businesses and the advantages of being able to quickly manipulate images and correct and crop photos cannot be overstated. Well-edited images represent your brand and business, particularly now with the rise of image-centric networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus, a visually appealing website with high quality pictures will definitely draw customers to your business. As mentioned, Adobe’s Photoshop is the world’s leading product in this space but that doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for all users. In fact, many photography professionals prefer alternative programmes such as Adobe Lightroom or Skylum Luminar, which also provide systems for image cataloguing and management, as well as being proficient as a photo editing tool. “Corel PaintShop Pro is also commonly used and can edit photos well,” says Anthony.
“There are also open-source or free programmes which don’t have the same feature set but give people good quality photo editing as well,” he adds. GIMP and Paint.NET are two such programs – free design software that come highly recommended. If you’re looking for basic photo editing capabilities, the built-in tools on smartphones and tablets are sufficient for things like correcting colours and adjusting brightness. Or there’s a plethora of decent editing apps for smartphones and tablets aimed at everyone from amateurs through to seasoned specialists. Take a squiz at these hot photo properties: VSCO, Snapseed and Afterlight.
According to Anthony, most businesses stand to benefit from using graphic design software like Adobe InDesign – “It’s great for designing documents, brochures and marketing materials. It gives you good layouts and allows you to put in text, graphics and photos,” he explains. But even though it’s the industry go-to for many print and digital publishing companies, it can be too complex for basic or occasional use. Rival programmes like Microsoft Publisher (for PC only) and QuarkXpress may offer a more stripped-back experience while still hosting plenty of useful features.
“Not every office is going to have an in-house graphic designer,” Anthony adds. “So you can then use online services, using templates you manipulate yourself, or outsource the graphic design work.” If you do wish to outsource your design work, Officeworks offers an excellent graphic design service. Their in-house graphic design team can make anything and everything, including business cards, posters, marketing material and logos. And part of the service allows you to make changes, collaborating with the team to make premium print-ready files for your business.
“For website design and building there are a lot of online tools with templated layouts available,” Anthony explains. Such tools include WordPress, Squarespace and Wix – online platforms that let you build your own professional website, making design choices as you go. And nope, coding knowledge is not required.
You can also use software like InDesign or Affinity Publisher to create your own layouts and other elements and export them to the service hosting your site. The same applies for social media – make custom backgrounds and fancy images using Adobe Creative Cloud software such as Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign for use on your Facebook page or Instagram feed. The benefits of this type of design? You can create and curate a truly customised online presence for your business that’s always on-brand and of exceptional quality.
Graphics tablets (also known as pen tablets) help make graphic design work more precise and creative. The natural pen-to-paper feel makes sketching, illustrating, drawing and logo design a dream. “They go with programs like Photoshop or InDesign,” Anthony explains. Thanks to the pressure sensitivity, “you can draw, colour in and edit photos much more efficiently and accurately than you can if you tried to use a mouse and a pointer.”
It’s not just design work that can benefit. Graphics tablets make working from home easy, giving you the ability to handwrite and annotate, create graphs, collaborate with ideation and visual thinking, point and highlight and sketch and draw. If you’re looking to increase your own or your team’s efficiency, it’s worth investing to take your productivity to the next level. Wacom is a world leader in pen technology and the professional standard in graphics tablets. If you’re unsure where to start, try the suggestions below.