Professional digital design of logos and other business materials can be the bane of any business owner’s existence. Professional web design houses with thousand dollar software suites can be prohibitively expensive and attempting to acquire these services from a freelance artist can be even worse as they may not have the tools or experience to get the job done, and can be unreliable even in the best situations.
The solution most business owners alight upon is using free design software and learning to use it themselves to produce the materials they need. The problem there is always trying to find the right design software for your needs, and to decide between commercial and free design software. There are multitudes of design software options on the market these days that range from the amazingly simple to the staggeringly complex. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this, a bit of clarity will be brought to the world of design software and free design software.
One of the first things you’re going to need to determine is what kind of design software you need. There are tools out there to fit nearly any need but getting a tool that does not do what you need it to do, or even worse one that does what you need it to do in a way you can not comprehend can make any cost and time savings of doing it yourself disappear.
For basic graphics editing and design, the hands down best option out there is the G.I.M.P (Gnu Image Manipulation Program). While the G.I.M.P. can be very complex, it stands up with much more expensive products such as Adobe Photoshop while costing absolutely nothing. If your needs fall into the category of creating signage, producing internal materials such as logos, or even doing graphic design for your website the G.I.M.P. will fit all of your needs.
However, if your free design software needs fall more into the 3D graphics creation and editing realm, there are many good design software options available there as well. In the realm of free design software one of the products that regularly stands out is known as Blender. With the capability of being imported into many popular game engines and other animation tools, Blender manages to encompass all of the amazing tools that many vastly more expensive products provide while remaining completely free.
There are of course other design needs that will require good design software. However, no matter what your needs are when you go out looking for design software there are a few things you must always keep in mind.
The first thing you will need to remember is that most design software is designed with designers in mind. Designers usually have fairly powerful computers and powerful graphics cards to handle the process of creating and rendering objects in 2D or 3D space. Your average desktop computer may not have the processing or graphics power to run these programs. Because of this it is critically important to look at the minimum system requirements the design software you are considering has, as well as any budget you may have for buying new hardware. This becomes even more important when you are considering purchasing this kind of software as most software companies will not accept “My computer can’t run it” as a reason to return the product.
Also important is to look at a few tutorials for the software you are considering. If you know you are going to be creating graphics for a billboard, check websites for tutorials of someone creating a billboard using the software you are considering. By doing this you can get a feel for what is involved in your goals for the software and whether or not you feel the software makes this easy and straightforward enough.
Overall there is vastly more diversity in the free design software world than there is in the commercial one. That being said free software frequently has the problem of assuming that the users of that software are somewhat to vastly more computer savvy than your average user. This assumption frequently leads to poor cross-platform support and confusing interfaces. To avoid this you will generally want to look for software that is compared to a commercial product with a similar use. To properly compete with these commercial products and their advertising and marketing budgets, free design software will need to make their interfaces, installation process, and cross-platform support a priority.
All of that being said, finding the right design software for your needs, hardware, and computer skill level will allow you to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on paying an external organization to produce digital materials for your business. Add in the assurance of getting exactly the product you want and you’ve got a recipe for success.