Every business, no matter its size or industry, yearns to make a striking impression in a competitive marketplace. To achieve this, they invest significantly in branding, hoping to carve out a unique identity and secure a differentiated position.
However, the costs associated with branding can often be prohibitive, especially for small businesses operating on thin margins.
The good news is, there are numerous design applications available in the market today that offer economical solutions. These apps empower small businesses to craft an exclusive visual persona without necessitating a hefty investment.
How to Choose the Best Graphic Design Software or App for Your Business
Demand for graphical assets such as logos, infographics, and banners has led to the availability of various design software tools. And these tools highlight the benefits of graphic design for businesses. Whether you are going to use them just for your company or start a business and sell your work on Merch by Amazon, you have options. While it’s great to have different options to choose from, it may also cause a bit of confusion. Here are some simple tips to choose the right app for your business.
- Figure out the task first: A clear understanding of what you need the software for will help you narrow your search and identify the best option.
- Determine your budget: Most graphic design tools offer a basic package for $30 a month. The more advanced versions are priced higher. The budget you’re willing to allocate for design will determine the option that works best for you.
- Consider the skill level: Is the user well experienced in graphic design or will it be a start from scratch? The skill level is crucial to figure out how intuitive the software must be to provide desired results.
- Credibility of vendor: Many software developers provide a host of user-friendly features to help businesses. Choosing a credible vendor can help you save time and money.
- Ensure logistical ease of use: Some tools are not supported on all devices. Some are available only on Mac. Before choosing the tool, it’s a good idea to ensure compatibility with your device.
Our Methodology: Graphic Design Apps
The realm of graphic design has been revolutionized by digital tools, and today’s market is brimming with apps that cater to professionals and newbies alike.
For entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses, these apps are invaluable for creating stellar visuals without breaking the bank on professional design services.
However, with such a saturated market, picking the right tool is paramount. We’ve focused on a spectrum of functionalities and factors critical to small businesses in our selection process.
Here are the key criteria we relied upon, each rated on a scale from 1 (least critical) to 5 (most critical):
User Interface and Experience (5/5)
The app needs a clean, intuitive interface, making it easy even for non-professionals to navigate and create designs. Unnecessary complexity can deter creativity and slow down the design process.
Feature Set and Versatility (5/5)
We look for apps that boast a comprehensive suite of design tools, including templates, typography, icons, and advanced editing features that cater to various design needs, from social media graphics to detailed brochures.
Quality of Output (5/5)
The app must support high-resolution design creation without quality degradation upon export. This ensures your designs remain crisp and professional in various formats and mediums.
Resource Library (4/5)
Access to a rich library of stock images, fonts, icons, and templates is essential for inspiring creativity and enhancing designs. The more resources available, the more diverse and tailored the designs can be.
Collaboration Features (4/5)
For teams, the ability to collaborate, share feedback, and make real-time edits within the app is invaluable. It streamlines the design process and ensures consistency in team projects.
Integration with Other Tools (4/5)
Compatibility with other software or digital tools can significantly enhance workflow efficiency, especially if you need to incorporate designs into different formats or platforms.
A good design app should offer high customizability, allowing you to tweak every aspect of your design to match brand aesthetics or specific project requirements.
We evaluate the pricing against the features offered. For small businesses, the app needs to provide maximum functionality at an affordable price point, with scalable options as the business grows.
Device Compatibility (4/5)
The app should be accessible across various devices, from computers to smartphones, allowing you to work on your designs from anywhere, with seamless transition between platforms.
Customer Support and Community (3/5)
Access to robust support resources, tutorials, and an active community forum can be particularly helpful for beginners and ensure a smooth user experience.
Performance and Speed (5/5)
The software’s performance should be optimized to handle complex designs and high-resolution images without lagging, crashing, or slowing down your device.
By considering these aspects, we filter through the multitude of available options to recommend graphic design apps that are not only feature-rich and user-friendly but also appropriate for the varied and specific needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Best Free Graphic Design Software and Mobile Apps
Purchasing a design tool outright can be a costly affair, especially for small businesses. Therefore, it could be beneficial to first experiment with free versions of design tools.
These cost-free tools often offer a good understanding of the fundamental capabilities and limitations, aiding in making an informed decision when it comes to eventually purchasing a tool.
To that end, we’ll explore some of the finest free graphic design software and mobile applications that businesses can benefit from.
1. GIMP – GNU Image Manipulaiton Program
When it comes to customization, few software tools come close to GIMP. In addition to providing a free photo editor, GIMP offers a range of high-quality functions such as customizable brushes and automatic image enhancement tools.
With GIMP, you’ll be able to access the same features without paying anything.
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux
2. Pixlr X
Pixlr X is a free online editor tool with several advanced features. The best part is its simple interface, which makes it easy to use. Going a step ahead of other image editing tools, Pixlr X offers a number of cutting tools such as lasso, shape, drag, and magic.
Available on: Windows, iOS, Android, Browser
Krita is an open-source tool that has been around for a while. It’s quite popular among illustrators and concept artists thanks to the various features it has on offer. More than editing, Krita is popular as a drawing tool.
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux
Vectr is ideal when it comes to working collaboratively. That’s because it comes with synchronization and live collaboration options. This makes it easy for a team to connect and collaborate on the tool.
Available on: Windows, Linux, Chrome OS
5. Gravit Designer
Gravit Designer is a great option for vector graphics. Created by people behind Corel Draw, Gravit Designer is a free vector software with a clean interface and it can support most design tasks.
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS
If you’re looking for a good photo editing tool, Photoscape is probably one of the best options. With a range of filters and effects, you can use this free image editing software to improve images. You can also use it to create slideshows, work on animated GIFs and convert RAW images.
With its self-explanatory features and options, Photoscape is one of the best editing tools for beginners.
Available on: Mac, Windows
Best Paid Apps for Graphic Designers
While free apps can be a good starting point, several paid applications cater specifically to the needs of professional designers.
These paid graphic design software tools tend to offer a plethora of advanced features, thereby enabling a level of creativity and functionality that free tools may not be able to match.
To further clarify the benefits of these tools, we’ll delve into an exploration of some of the top-rated paid graphic design software available in the market today.
7. Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop is undoubtedly the best graphic design software and photo editor in the world. Designers and illustrators all over the world use this software for a host of tasks including 3D modeling, typography, and drawing. Designed to be intuitive, the user-friendly interface lets designers create their own layout panels. What’s more, it’s well suited for both mobile and web design.
Adobe has recently introduced AI tools that let users remove backgrounds in seconds. Adobe Creative Cloud regularly updates the software to update design tools.
Available on: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: Purchased on its own as a subscription, Adobe Photoshop costs $22.99 a month. The Creative Cloud Photography plan costs $9.99 a month. Adobe also provides a 7-day free trial option.
8. Adobe Illustrator
When it comes to vector drawing and editing, Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard. From logos to artwork, Adobe Illustrator offers several features to help designers to accomplish a host of tasks. Since it’s part of Adobe Creative Cloud, you have to pay for a subscription. The software updates are free, though.
Available on: Windows, macOS
Pricing: Adobe Illustrator’s basic individual plan costs $19.99 a month. The business plan costs $29.99 a month.
9. Affinity Designer
Affinity Designer is an affordable alternative to Illustrator. As far as features are concerned, Affinity Designer has all the cool functionalities of Illustrator. In addition, it offers some of its own features such as one million percent zoom.
Available on: Windows, macOS
Pricing: Plans start at $24.21, a one-time fee. This one-time fee is for iPad, for Mac and Windows, it costs $60.54.
Canva is a feature-rich editing tool. Ideal for making image adjustments such as resizing, cropping, and adding effects, Canva also provides features to do more. This includes a font combination picker, photo collage maker, and a color palette tool.
Available on: Browser, iOS, Android
Pricing: Canva comes with a free trial and free version. The paid plan starts from $12.99 a month.
11. Autodesk Maya
Autodesk Maya is considered one of the best software tools for 3D work. It offers a number of features and tools such as remodeling, rendering, and animation to cover the entire 3D workflow. An advanced tool, it’s not for beginners who will require a steep learning curve before start using this.
Available on: Windows, macOS
Pricing: It costs $215 a month.
Genially makes data visualization easy. A powerful graphic design tool to create presentations, infographics, and quizzes, Genially is especially useful for busy users on the go.
Available on: Browser
Pricing: Plan starts at $9.90 a month.
Here’s a handy summary of the best free and paid apps:
|1||GIMP||Customizable brushes, automatic image enhancement||Windows, macOS, Linux||Free|
|2||Pixlr X||Simple interface, advanced cutting tools||Windows, iOS, Android, Browser||Free|
|3||Krita||Open-source, favored by illustrators and concept artists||Windows, macOS, Linux||Free|
|4||Vectr||Collaboration-friendly with live synchronization||Windows, Linux, Chrome OS||Free|
|5||Gravit Designer||Great for vector graphics, clean interface||Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS||Free|
|6||Photoscape||Variety of filters and effects, good for beginners||Mac, Windows||Free|
|7||Adobe Photoshop||3D modeling, typography, drawing, AI tools||Mac, Windows, iOS, Android||$22.99/month (individual subscription), $9.99/month (photography plan)|
|8||Adobe Illustrator||Industry standard for vector drawing and editing||Windows, macOS||$19.99/month (basic individual plan), $29.99/month (business plan)|
|9||Affinity Designer||Affordable Illustrator alternative with high zooming capability||Windows, macOS||$24.21 (iPad, one-time fee), $60.54 (Mac and Windows, one-time fee)|
|10||Canva||Versatile image adjustment, font combination picker, photo collage maker||Browser, iOS, Android||From $12.99/month|
|11||Autodesk Maya||Comprehensive 3D work tool, not for beginners||Windows, macOS||$215/month|
|12||Genially||Great for data visualization, presentations, infographics||Browser||From $9.90/month|
Which paid app is best for graphic design?
In the realm of paid graphic design applications, Adobe Photoshop stands tall as the top contender. With its comprehensive suite of features and customization options, it surpasses many other tools. Having been the industry standard for decades, Adobe Photoshop continually evolves, integrating cutting-edge technologies to provide users with the latest and most advanced functionalities.
Which free app is best for graphic design?
For businesses or individuals seeking a cost-free design tool, Pixlr X emerges as the top choice. The standout aspect of this app is its highly intuitive and user-friendly interface. This makes Pixlr X particularly attractive for beginners in the field of graphic design, who are seeking user-friendly software that provides quality image editing capabilities.
More in: Content Marketing, Software and Apps