At The Abbi Agency, we understand that effective content takes myriad forms. Whether we’re reaching out via a bold, persuasively worded press-release or executing one of our award-winning video campaigns, we understand that medium and message have to align at the intersections of innovation and engagement to really move people.
Iterating a message across platforms or media isn’t always easy, though. Producing a quality video or building a smart email campaign requires both theoretical and practical knowledge to be done well, while building microsites or landing pages requires significant information both about user experience and web design. Not everybody can just dive right in on projects like these—at least for now.
That said, when I consider how media has changed, I can’t help but think about how tools have emerged year after year that break the barriers to entry in crafts that require specialized technical knowledge. An iPhone 7 Plus paired with iMovie can, in the hands of a determined amateur, produce a serviceable social video. A micro-site can be built with an application like Wix, which turns the web-development process into a drag-and-drop task. Decent social graphics can be produced using web tools like Canva, or any number of apps on your phone.
I’ve experimented with all of these tools and can attest to the challenges—and exciting opportunities—that democratization offers. But what about when a form hasn’t been “made easy”? Take more advanced forms of information design for example.
We sometimes take the skillfully articulated beauty of graphics and user interface for granted as we surf the web. Infographics, fliers and other graphical assets which bring knowledge and aesthetics together to convey information beautifully, get passed around without sparing a thought for what it must have taken to construct them. Or if you’re anything like me, you make a couple of really horrible infographics in your sophomore year of college and think: “Okay, maybe I should leave this to the experts.”
Maybe you should—if you can. Here at The Abbi Agency, we have strong teams in our digital and creative departments. Our artists and digital thinkers come together to produce killer work for us all the time, and it’s perpetually amazing to see how they translate verbal ideas into artwork.
That said, not everyone has a creative or digital team—and these creative teams don’t always have time to produce info-rich content design just because we need them to.
When that happens to be the case, I’ve recently found that yet another tool has popped up to democratize a skill that’s maybe eluded those of us who aren’t the most artistically or organizationally gifted. That tool is called Venngage, and I’ve slowly been incorporating it into my content production schedule.
New Tools Solve Old Problems
Venngage is in some ways a lot like other graphic design resources on the web. There’s a vast array of clipart, a drag-and-drop graphical user interface, and easy exporting options that move users from concept to publishing rather quickly.
These features, while useful, aren’t what makes Venngage a standout tool.
Instead, it’s Venngage’s robust customizability and vast library of information design templates that make it of particularly good use for content marketers seeking to add a powerful visual element to the information they share.
Venngage boasts a vast and continuously growing collection of information design templates to help novice graphic storytellers get their points across effectively. While these are a massive asset in and of themselves, an interface that allows users to alter practically all aspects of these templates—be it color, content, size, opacity, text, or basically anything a basic user could imagine—is one differentiator separating Venngage from its template-repository competitors.
More advanced users will enjoy the ability to use Venngage’s back-end to set “brand parameters” for all of their content, pre-installing their company’s logo onto graphics published in their name and pre-selecting typeface, color, taglines and other elements so that they’re conveniently in place for users at the beginning of the creative process.
That said, Venngage is in no way a full-fledged replacement for a graphic design department. Issues with kerning plague basically all one-size, template-based software solutions and this one is no exception. In addition, the web-based GUI (graphical user interface) is sometimes imperfect, leaving some of the customization options unreachable for users who aren’t determined to click or disassemble graphics to get to the elements that they’re after.
Based on my own use of Venngage here at the agency for some of our recent infographics, I’d wager that this tool is best-suited for two groups of people: solo content marketers who are just beginning to incorporate graphics (across a spectrum of arenas) into their practice, or agency team members who, like me, are fortunate enough to have graphic designers on hand to polish their work without capitalizing too much of their time.
While Venngage isn’t likely to solve every graphic design dilemma marketers are likely to face, it does broaden horizons, and in an industry that continually seeks to engage consumers in new and exciting ways, that’s a vital contribution.
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