2 Best design apps for small business owners and how you can use them to create amazing content!

Powerful design apps can help you create lots of different types of content for your business.

Your social media accounts, website, youtube channel, and blog all need visuals, GIFS, pictures, infographics, and videos. You need a couple of versatile and efficient design apps to help you create all this stunning content to engage your customers and followers online. 

In this post, I’ll reveal the top 2 BEST design apps for small business owners and how you can use them!!

Hubspot media use infographic

From: blog.hubspot.com

As a small business owner, you need a design app that can help you with:

  • Designing adverts and commercial promotional material 
  • Website design 
  • Social media design 
  • An app that can create product mockups 
  • A video editor
  • Create infographics
  • Has a content library 
  • Has beautifully designed templates 
  • Provides a commercial license for visual assets 
  • Is user-friendly 
  • Is well-priced 

Design apps on the market 

There are many well-known design apps out on the market. You’ll be familiar with industry-standard design apps like:

  • Adobe Photoshop, 
  • Adobe Illustrator, 
  • Affinity Designer, 
  • Procreate,
  • and other Creative Cloud Apps. 

These design apps are used by professional designers in the design industry. Many business owners also make use of these apps. However, these apps take LOTS of time to learn and master. You’d likely need formal training through a course or many hours of self-study on Youtube to make full use of all the capabilities and features these kinds of apps offer. 

Some of these design apps can also be very costly. As a small business owner, likely in the early stages of your business’ growth, it may not be financially feasible for you to take on app subscriptions that can start at 91 USD per month (R1 372,59 at the time of writing). 

You should use design apps that are much more accessible, both in terms of pricing and user-friendliness. Your time is your most valuable asset, pick design apps that have shorter learning curves so you can get high-quality content on your channels asap. 

The 2 BEST design apps for small business owners

As a designer, illustrator, small business owner, and digital strategist I have used a lot of the design apps we have discussed so far and a few others you will be very familiar with. My top 2 BEST design apps for small business owners are Canva and Offeo!

Canva & Offeo design apps

Why do you need Canva as a small business owner? 

Canva is one of the most popular design apps on the market, and for good reason! Canva disrupted design by making good design accessible to the whole world. Its drag and drop design workflows make it easy for even the newest of users to get started super quickly. The app is intuitive and easy to use. This is incredibly valuable for time-poor, busy small business owners. 

The design app is accessible via your web browser as a cloud app and it also has a downloadable mobile app on both android and iOS. It has both a free version and paid pro subscription. You will need Canva Pro to access the best features and content this app has to offer. The pro subscription will not break your bank at all as it currently costs only 12.99 USD per month (R195.51 per month approximately) or 119.99 USD annually. 

Canva has a ton of design features! Below, I’ll take you through some features which you’ll find incredibly useful for running an online business and marketing. 

Canva’s most valuable features for small business owners

Elements 

Canva Elements are static or animated digital assets. They can be shapes, lines, charts, graphics, or animations. 

Canva design apps screenshot

You can use these elements to build your visuals. The trick to building really captivating visuals with elements is using keywords to search for the best elements for your theme or concept. You can use filters to search for specific elements. For example, below, you’ll see I’ve searched for a pink Dog element.

Canva design apps screenshot

And this is what I get:

Canva design apps screenshot

Filters and Elements are awesome!! What do you think you can whip up with some funky elements? WAIT, don’t you think you could create a really stunning t-shirt? I think you can!! Your brand new clothing brand could be a few minutes away 🙂

To design a funky and stunning t-shirt you’ll need a concept and a t-shirt mockup. 

You can type T-shirt mockup in the element search bar and Canva will throw some great mockups your way. 

Canva design apps screenshot

Once you’ve picked your mockup, placed and sized it on your canvas you can start designing. You need to decide on a concept for the t-shirt’s design. A concept will guide your search terms in Canva. For example, I could make my concept about mythical creatures. I may want my elements to relate to dragons, werewolves, and other scary creatures and demons. After searching these terms individually I’ll likely run into a design that I really like and make it the central visual on my shirt. After that, I’ll search for and add a few more elements just to make the scene vibrant and interesting. 

Canva design apps screenshot

This cool design took about 10 minutes from start to finish and it’s an example of what you can produce really quickly using Canva. Notice how the ‘Rodeo’ font is only available on the Pro version of Canva. Take a look at one of my favorite designs below I’ve made using this technique, it’s also one of my favorite T-shirts now!

Canva design apps screenshot

Once you get comfortable with elements you can start designing scenes and telling stories. Your imagination will have tons of room to run wild. You can use the same approach when designing other types of content like blog visuals, ebook covers, ads, and wallpapers!

Mockups 

We’ve already seen a T-shirt mockup in action but Canva has a whole lot more up its sleeve. Take a look at the template below, it caught my eye and uses a computer mockup.

Canva design apps screenshot

You could decide on making a cover about remote learning, You can use the visual on a blog post, a short ebook, or a YouTube thumbnail cover. Next, you’ll need to do some editing to get your visual to match your concept. Head to photos to pick a picture to pop into the mockup. 

Canva design apps screenshot

Canva design apps screenshot

You need to drag and drop the upload into the mockup. Then, add a vertical line element to divide the contents. Next, add and size a background photo behind the elements, text, and mockup. Change the blue background to lime green. Edit the ‘text’ copy to relate to your concept and line everything up. Take a look at your design below, it looks good and ready to publish, doesn’t it!?

Canva design apps screenshot

Canva gives you a lot of control over your design process and style, so have lots of fun with it! What makes this process so addictive and enjoyable is the massive content library inside Canva. 

Content Library 

When you get Canva Pro you get complete access to Canva’s near-infinite content library! You get your unlimited fill of videos, pictures, elements, illustrations, audio, templates, fonts, and backgrounds. What’s crazy is Canva is ALWAYS adding more content created by their community of designers, we are truly well fed. All your content also comes with a super useful commercial license, so you won’t get cold sweats over Intellectual Property and Trademark Infringements (take a look at the T&Cs for more info). You can even upload your own content to use on the app. And do you know what makes having all this awesome content even better, making VIDEOS with it!!

Video Editor

Hubspot video marketing infographic

From: blog.hubspot.com

You can make your own professional short videos with Canva. You have access to tons of video assets that you can edit, customize or tailor together to make your videos. Don’t forget that you can use elements, both animated and static, in your videos. Canva by itself is great for making short videos. But… if you use Zoom and Canva together you can make even longer professional videos. Check out the explainer video I made about Content Marketing below, made using only Zoom and Canva. The audio and all visual assets were added and made using Canva. The video was recorded and voiced-over using Zoom’s share screen, record, and present features. 

Play Video about Why is content important: Branding 101

From: Content Marketing article

You’ll have more control over the process if you use Adobe Premiere to edit the video together, but Zoom is a great alternative because it’s free! The last feature we’ll cover in this post for Canva is Charts and Graphs. You’ll find charts and graphs super useful for creating content for your business and data visualization. 

 

Charts and Graphs 

 

Charts and graphs are great ways to communicate data visually. Canva being a design app will help make your data look stunning and eye-catching. I make use of charts and graphs often for work, blogging, and my studies. I switch between using MS Word, PowerPoint, and Canva depending on what I want to create. If it’s super basic the MS apps will do just fine but if I want lots of control over the design and need very specific details with lots of visual appeal for my project then Canva is my go-to!

 

For example, I was struggling with creating a Cause and Effect diagram with the MS apps. They didn’t provide the level of control and accuracy over the design a perfectionist creative like myself craves. So, I turned to Canva and in a few minutes I had my project all wrapped up beautifully:

 

Canva design apps cause and effect diagram

 

All I had to do was type ‘cause and effect diagram’ under the ‘Templates’ section, scroll through the results, and pick a template I liked. I slightly rearranged the elements and added the text relevant to my project. In hindsight, I could have made the background a lot more colorful and appealing, forgive me Canva! Every element present on this diagram is there because I want it there! You won’t have to struggle to manipulate your diagram with Canva, unlike some other apps I won’t shame here… Take a look at the QR code explainer carousel I created for SnapScan (one of South Africa’s leading Fintechs) using Canva, some elements, and some graphs. This project is WAY more visually appealing, I promise!

Make sure you use Canva’s powerful features in all your projects, you’ll love the results and so will your READERS!! Next, we’ll take a look at your 2nd design secret weapon, Offeo. 

 

Why do you need Offeo as a small business owner? 

Offeo is a cloud-based video platform that will help you make incredibly beautiful videos and static visuals for your brand in minutes. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how intuitive this app is. If you can comfortably use Canva you’ll be able to use Offeo easily. What makes Offeo so good is that it helps you do one thing really well; it’s designed to help you make short, beautiful, high-impact videos very quickly. Unlike other apps, which we’ll spare naming and shaming once again, there’s no upsell when it comes to accessing its full library of exquisite templates. As you can see below, you’ll have access to the entire catalog of designer templates and you can also set up your brand on the app so you can create custom-branded templates. 

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

Offeo is currently on offer for a once-off lifetime purchase of 98 USD (about R1 468,68). I personally prefer once-off offers, opposed to subscription models, because I don’t want to add an expense to my monthly budget if it’s too expensive. This offer, like Canva, comes with a commercial license for your content. 

 

OFFEO’S MOST VALUABLE FEATURES FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

 

Branded Templates 

 

Branded templates incorporate your brand logo and brand colors across all your designs. During the brand setup flow, you will add your domain URL, brand logo, and colors. This will allow Offeo to add these elements across templates inside the Offeo template library. Once done, you’ll be able to customize these templates more! Take a look at the brand setup flow below:

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

Take a look at what Offeo whipped up for me after the brand setup:

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

After a bit of scrolling a template that can easily be used on a website landing page or an ‘about us’ section caught my eye:

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

All elements can be customized through the drag and drop design workflows. You can also import your own assets and you can add audio, animations, and other graphics. Would you like to see what you can do with designer templates? 

 

Designer Templates 

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

You’ll find using Offeo super quick and efficient if you already have some visual assets to use in your designs, but rest assured you can also create visuals from scratch inside the app. Let me take you through the design of this cool video I made using ‘Designer Templates’.

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

After selecting ‘Designer Templates’ during the setup of your ‘new project’ you’ll need to select a dimension, we’ll go with ‘Youtube’ for this design. And then Offeo will work its magic and serve us its catalog. 

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

This designer template caught my eye:

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

As you can see, this is more for a sales video but I think it would make a great art page promo. So let’s see how it looks after a little bit of customization and editing.

 

First, I decided to head over to Canva to grab a visual to use in this video:

 

Canva design apps screenshot

 

I imported my new visual and one of my art pieces into Offeo to use in the video. After some dragging, dropping, adding animation, and some audio this is what we got:

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

If you click on ‘Timeline’ in the bottom right corner you’ll get a video editor a little similar to what you’ll get in Adobe Premiere. This makes video editing more accurate and this will definitely help you when adding audio to the video and aligning the timing of your elements:

 

Offeo design apps screenshot

 

Let’s take a look at the final product!

You can create lots of super vivid, unique, and memorable videos like this with Offeo. We’ll wrap up with one final feature that will make your life so much easier when it comes to creating beautiful designs, Offeo’s ‘AI Auto-Create’.

AI Auto-Create  

Offeo design apps screenshot

You can choose between full control and AI auto-create with Offeo. The AI can pull your design or image into a pre-designed template saving you time when it comes to editing. You can still edit and customize the AI-produced design but you might not want to because the AI can do a really great job! We designed one of our favorite social media videos entirely with Offeo’s AI

That’s a wrap! Thank you so much for reading through this article. We hope you found it super useful and we hope you start using these amazing apps to create stunning content for your brand and business. Now that you have these powerful apps at your finger tips learn the basics of content marketing and how to use content on your website to make money.

Content Marketing

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