This post is specifically designed to save you, the developer or designer, time. I have included several great resources that will directly save you time or indirectly save you time by enabling other members of your team. You can likely find alternatives to the time-saving social media tools I have selected; just be sure that whichever tool you select, it delivers the time-saving value I describe. Enjoy.
Need to capture basic video, animation or still image and quickly share on the web
Jing. I am dating myself a bit, but I remember a time when you had to use MS Paint to capture screenshots. So when researching the great tools of today, it is amazing to see the robust features available at no cost. If you can’t afford professional video editing tools like Final Cut Pro, this free tool from Techsmith will make you significantly more efficient when creating basic video tutorials, capturing screenshots and more.
As you would expect from a tool like Jing, they have a great library of tutorial videos on how to use their product. Jing is designed to utilize Screencast.com to host your files and share across the web. To use, select any window or region that you would like to record, and Jing will capture everything that happens in that area — including mouse movement — while allowing for a fully narrated tutorial for up to five minutes. (Given the attention span of social users, you really shouldn’t be creating anything longer than about three minutes anyway.)
This should come in very handy for developers when sharing code and functional demonstrations without the need to make a huge production out of sharing small pieces of information and functionality. It should also help get those product managers and business analysts off your back about providing useful documentation.
Need the color palette of an image
It is a very common to be sent an image from a client and they no longer have the design file. Whether it was created by an employee that left years ago or by an agency you are replacing, it can be really annoying to build from that type of foundation.
Pictaculous is a great tool that solves the problem of finding the colors for a specific image. Simply upload an image to their site and they will provide you with the full color palette of that image.
Need to quickly turn around an icon set for a client
I personally love marketing that properly utilizes icons in creative. It provides great visual representation of tasks, emotions, products, services and more. Also referred to as visual language, icons are the visual representation of the value a company provides.
Icons are the visual representation of the value a company provides.
If you ever find yourself getting stuck and not being able to find the proper visual to represent one of your client’s products or services, I would highly recommend checking out The NounProject for inspiration. Cost is based upon your royalty requirements, and can be one of the most affordable ways to unblock.
There also are several options to procure finished icons, including IconFinder.com. Many options require payment but a few are free. If you’re in a crunch to deliver several pieces of design with very little turnaround time, procuring icons can save a ton of time. Additionally, if your project is for commercial purposes, a paid option is typically the way to go anyway to ensure proper licensing.
Need to quickly drop your logo into a technology stock photo
Consider Placeit to create professional looking images that feature your home page, blog, app, or service in stock photos. While this is easy to do if you have a professional tool like InDesign, Placeit provides some neat integrations with your web address and their photography and video for a reasonable monthly subscription.
How it works:
- Choose a background from the library
- Upload a screenshot or provide Placeit a URL to grab in order to insert your site into the image.
- Download or embed your new creation anywhere.
That is pretty much all there is to create high-quality user experience images of your technology products and services.
Need to build a SlideShare deck and infographic with a similar topic
PowerPoint. Yes, I know, within certain organizations, the last thing you want to be known for is the ability to design wonderful slides in PowerPoint. Over my career, I have held the go-to PowerPoint person title a time or two. (Who am I kidding? I still have this role.) Even if you have to keep it a secret from others, presentation software like PowerPoint can become a huge timesaver when it comes to updating text or simple elements of a chart, table, or even infographic.
Data and statistics can become out-of-date very quickly. In fact, think of slides themselves as images or sections of an infographic. Consider the upgrades to a company branded SlideShare if you set photos as slide backgrounds, which allow for the content team to modify text, colors, icons, charts, etc. If you develop creative in a way that allows non-designers to make updates without submitting a new request, it can really lighten the load.
Given the amount of imagery required in the social space, if you do not look for these efficiencies, it might become your full-time job. If you are looking for quick PowerPoint templates that allow non-designers the ability to create simple infographics, HubSpot provides a few baseline examples to spark creative thought.
A quick, free design tool for developers and non-designers to use in social media
Pablo. Design quick photos with text in 30 seconds. If your content team utilizes Buffer, they can easily schedule and share images created with Pablo. This is an easy way to create quick visuals with a text overlay, and even allows you to add a company logo or custom background image. While the use of quotes on a background image tends to be overused by some in the social space, Pablo can be an effective tool to lighten the load of a design team.
Social Image Sizing Cheatsheet
In a previous post I provided quick references to sizing images to be shared across social networks. It is a quick reference for the right sizes to use in any social media post, including profile pictures, headers, shared images and more.
The response to that post has been fantastic, so as an added bonus, here’s a handy download of all 30 design files you need to create shareable images for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.