5 Apps for Creating Eye-Catching Visual Content

by Heather Clancy on October 23, 2013
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“A picture is worth a thousand words” isn’t just an old adage: All sorts of psychological studies back it up.

Psychologist Jerome Bruner, a senior research fellow at New York University, once famously postulated that people remember only 10 percent of what they hear and 20 percent of what they read but almost 80 percent of what they see and do.

In short, small-business owners who rely on presentations filled with text-based slides probably aren’t making a memorable impact.

You say you’re not artistically inclined? Here are five applications that will help you and your team do a better job of creating animated videos, infographics, and other visuals without having to be creative experts:

GoAnimate ($50/month for GoPremium) — What impact can using animated videos have on your marketing effectiveness? Work.com, the Salesforce.com subsidiary previously called Rypple, added one to its home page and increased conversion rates by 20 percent. GoAnimate lets small businesses do the same by assembling pre-designed backgrounds and pre-animated components. You can upload other things, too, such as your company’s own logo, audio, or video. The completed content may be distributed via YouTube. (A similar service called PowToon is currently being beta-tested.)

Haiku Deck (free, plus $1.99 each for certain themes and premium photos from Getty Images) — If you’ve taken to creating and giving presentations using your tablet, you’ll appreciate this software for the Apple iPad. It offers the ability to create pie charts, bar graphs, and stat charts by using drag-to-edit controls and an extensive visual palette. There are preformatted themes and “millions” of high-quality photographs licensed from the Creative Commons that you may use (which helps you surmount digital copyright issues). If you’re so inclined, you can export your content to Apple Keynote, Microsoft PowerPoint, or PDF formats.

Prezi ($59/year for private presentations; $159/year to share content publicly and create “prezis” offline on your desktop) — If you tend to be a nonlinear thinker, you should consider Prezi’s unique approach to creating presentations. Rather than requiring you to move from slide to slide and stick with specific transitions, Prezi lets you branch out according to the flow of your presentation on a particular day or during a particular meeting. The software lets you “zoom in” and focus on just the ideas that make sense in the moment.

SmartDraw ($297 for business edition) — For those enamored of flow charts, organizational charts, floor plans, and diagrams, there is SmartDraw. This “visual processor” uses drag-and-drop conventions to create visuals that can be used with Google Docs, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Visio, and other apps that you might use to communicate ideas and business proposals. You must be a Windows PC user to create content, but there are cloud and mobile viewing options, including an Apple iOS viewer.

ThingLink (free) — This interactive image technology lets you create more context around an image by letting you embed or associate all sorts of content with it, including videos, audio files from SoundCloud accounts, text descriptions, Wikipedia entries, and more. It’s sort of like including captions within a photograph instead of underneath it. When you mouse over a ThingLink-enabled image, the embedded content becomes available to the viewer. You manipulate images using a Google Chrome browser plug-in or a mobile app for Apple iOS.

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