An effective image can be essential when making an argument, but not all of us have graphic design skills and access to applications like Photoshop. Fortunately, there is a profusion of free or inexpensive web applications for nonexperts. Here is a roundup of web tools for graphic design that I have used and can recommend. All are easy to use and have free versions.

Infographics with Piktochart

1 in 4 signs in a library simply points to another sign. --@FakeLibraryStats

It’s no secret that libraries love signs. Here at Hamon, we are trying to up our temporary signage game with Piktochart. I made this sign about library signage in about two minutes. The free version of this tool has several templates for infographics, posters, reports, and presentations. The paid version offers more of everything but is pretty pricey at $29/mo or $290/yr.

Word clouds with WordItOut

Hamon blog categories and tags

WordItOut has nice options for customizing your word clouds, including background color, style and color range of font, and the ability to retain compound words and phrases through non-breaking characters. WordItOut is free and doesn’t require an account. Word clouds are accessible through stable links that are associated with an email address and can be set to public or private.

Diagrams and flowcharts with Gliffy

Digital curation workflow

Gliffy is a  tool for creating diagrams and flowcharts. It’s easy to use–just drag and drop, point and click. However, making complicated diagrams can take considerably more time to make. Free accounts are limited five saved diagrams that are publicly accessible. But after five diagrams, you can make a new graphic by deleting an earlier diagram or paying for an account. Paid subscriptions (starting at $4.95/mo) allow you to create more diagrams that can be set as private.

GIFs with Imgflip

The library is the worst group of people ever assembled in history.
Leslie Knope in Season 2, Episode 8, “Ron and Tammy” from Parks and Recreation. Clearly, we have some outreach to do in Pawnee, IN.

I confess that it took me a very long time to find the right video clip for this GIF of library trash-talk from Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation, but I hope you’ll agree it was worth it. With Imgflip, you upload a video or images, add text, and generate and download your GIF. The paid version ($9.95/mo) allows you to create higher quality GIFs, to set them as private, and to remove the Imgflip watermark. With Imgflip, you can also create other graphics, including pie charts, memes, and motivational, or even demotivational posters.

Sara Outhier, Digital Media Librarian, Hamon Arts Library | southier@smu.edu


Do you have a web tool you’d like you recommend? Comment below, or submit a review to hamonblog@smu.edu.

Images by Sara Outhier.