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Graphics and design software

Graphics and design software

Whether creating promotional leaflets, editing photographs for the company website or drawing diagrams to represent the company’s services, most businesses have some use for graphics and design software.

What’s design software for?

Graphic and design software is useful whenever you need to use images, graphics or photos in your business. For instance, you might need to create a logo for your marketing materials.

You can do a number of things with graphics and design software:

  • Edit photos and images. Graphics software allows you to change photos on your computer. For instance, you can remove red-eye, crop photos or make them sharper. Photo editing graphics software is best for this. 
  • Create illustrations and diagrams. Build images from scratch using lines, shapes, colour and shading. For example, you can draw diagrams or build illustrative presentations. Look for illustration software to do this.
  • Design printed items like brochures and leaflets. The features and effects available in desktop publishing software mean it’s the best way to design posters, flyers and other materials.

Graphics and design software can be used to create some of the elements to go on your website – like logos, photos and backgrounds. But to actually build the website itself you'll need web design software or an online website builder package.

Simple design software

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Creating great designs and graphics involves more than just having the right design software. You need the skills of a good graphic designer too. The best have years of experience and understand how to use professional design software properly.

For this reason, unless your business has an in-house designer or a member of staff with good design skills, purchasing expensive graphics software can be wasteful. Instead, consider using basic software for simple design task. Employ a freelance graphic designer or design agency for more complex projects.

When you choose simple design software, prioritise ease of use over ultimate capabilities. The more versatile design software is, the harder it is to use!

Design software is included free with many computers. It may be all you need to perform simple tasks. For instance, Microsoft Windows includes functions allowing you to rotate, crop and alter the brightness and contrast of photos.

Alternatively, you may be able to acquire design software as part of an office suite. These packages often include desktop publishing software, basic photo editing and illustration tools.

There are lots of free or open source design software packages available too. GIMP and Paint.NET are two of the best. And a growing number of websites offer online design software so you can edit graphics through your web browser. Try Pixlr or FotoFlexer.

Advanced graphics software

At the other end of the scale, advanced design software packages give you fine control over every element of the photo, image or diagram you’re working on. You can change colour palettes, cut out elements very precisely, optimise images for different purposes and save them in a huge variety of formats.

However, unless you’re a graphic designer, you’re unlikely to use more than a fraction of the available features – assuming you can find the one you need from the mass of options.

Professional graphics and design software is expensive. Full-blown photo editing software can cost £500 – and you might need to consider purchasing an illustration package or desktop publishing software in addition.

It may be possible to reduce costs by accessing and using graphics and design software via the cloud on a subscripton basis. The Adobe Creative Cloud is one such option. Alternatively, if you require professional results, but on an ad hoc basis, it is probably cheaper to employ a professional designer or agency.

If you need something more advanced than basic packages, but don’t require the full capabilities of professional design software, look for a cut-down version of a professional package. These are significantly cheaper - around £100 - but should still satisfy most requirements. Adobe Photoshop Elements is an excellent option.