Inforgraphics seem to be gaining in popularity as a visual marketing device for brands. (I wonder if anyone has created an infographic about the rise of infographics.) If the data is compelling and the design is done well, they can be very powerful tools for sharing information with your target audience, building credibility and increasing traffic to your website or blog.
We’ve reviewed some other awesome graphics tools before, including Canva for social media and blog graphics and PicMonkey for adding text and overlays to images. But did you know that there are several free infographic tools out there specifically designed to help you turn your data into a visual masterpiece? Here is an overview of three popular tools for creating infographics.
Easel.ly offers hundreds of infographic templates straight from their homepage – just click on the one you want, and a web-based design dashboard will pop up. No login required. The templates are fully customizable; you can add or delete objects, change colors, edit text and more. Choose objects from their library of shapes and icons in a range of categories, from food to people to nature, or upload your own images. You can also start from a blank canvas if none of the templates fit what you’re looking for.
When you’re finished designing, you can download a jpeg or PDF of your infographic. If you want to save your work and come back to it later, you’ll need to register for an account (you can use your Facebook or Google+ login, or the traditional email + password).
You’ll have to create an account to use Piktochart. They offer free and paid versions, with the Pro account costing $20 per month. The Pro account gives you access to more templates, high resolution image export and the ability to remove the Piktochart watermark from your infographic, but I found the free version to be more than sufficient for what I would need.
Like Easel.ly, Piktochart has a large catalog of Infographic templates to choose from, and takes you to an intuitive user interface for customizing your design. Piktochart’s design features seem to be a bit more robust than Easel.ly’s. It has at least twice as many fonts to choose from, the library of icons and images is much more extensive and you can enter a Hex value for your background color, compared to Easel.ly’s 25 or so background color options.
In addition to adding images, editing text and choosing colors, you can also include videos and dynamic charts and graphs. You even have the ability to build the graphs right within the infographic, complete with a data spreadsheet so you can edit the axis labels, the type of chart and the data itself.
Here are your options once you’ve finished your masterpiece:
- Save to your Piktochart account
- Download it as a jpeg, png or pdf
- Publish to the web (you’ll get an HTML embed code to use)
- Share to social media or email
Visual.ly is a different type of tool from the other two, but if you have a specific type of data to display and you don’t require a lot of customization, it can also be the fastest and easiest. Visual.ly is a primarily a graphics company that offers consultation and design services, however, they also offer about a dozen free Infographic templates. The templates are intended for certain data sets; there’s one for displaying data from Google Analytics, one for Facebook Insights and one for comparing two Twitter accounts, for example.
To get started, visit create.visual.ly and select a template. We chose the Facebook Insights template, so we were prompted to log in using Facebook so that Visual.ly could have access to data from our Facebook Page. Once logged in, all I had to do was choose the Facebook Page I wanted to feature from a drop-down list and click “Create the Report” – and voila! Just like that, an infographic appeared with a slew of beautifully-presented information about our Facebook Page’s performance over the last 30 days and the demographics of our fans.
The infographic is pretty, and it might be useful to include in a monthly report to show the reach and engagement of our content, but again, it’s important to understand that there is no option for customization with Visual.ly’s reports. They pull your data into their pre-existing templates, and what you see is what you get.
Free Infographic Tools – Which is Best?
It’s a bit difficult to compare Visual.ly with the other two free infographic tools, since it’s a completely different animal. If you want to display your Facebook Page performance or Google Analytics data, you can’t beat it for speed and ease of use. If your goal is to create something more customized, on the other hand, you’ll find much more flexibility with either Easel.ly or Piktochart. And if I had to choose a favorite of the three, I’d probably say Piktochart was the most user-friendly and offered the most advanced range of features. But in reality, which tool you choose may just boil down to which one offers the template that best fits your needs.
Have you tried these or other infographic makers? If you have another tool you think we should add to our list or consider for a future Toolkit Tuesday post, let us know in the comments below.