In all aspects of design, simplicity is a recurring goal. The simpler a finished product is, the more effective it is; and simplicity is often found in every stage along the way.
There’s a reason why most designers still start with pen or pencil and paper, even though we have a plethora of design software available: simple works.
Getting Back To Basics
But apart from your favorite weight of paper and brand of pen, there are other simple tools that graphic designers often turn to.
Professionals may tend towards the Adobe Creative Suite, with fan-favorites like Illustrator, which is often cited in the lists of most used graphic design software.
And Adobe does provide tutorials and how-tos to try to ease new users into a groove.
But very few would claim that Adobe Creative Suite applications are “simple” to use.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have software such as Designmantic.com’s logo maker providing absolute beginners with a leg up on the design process by allowing them some say in the design — but not too much. This sort of software is certainly simple, but doesn’t necessarily give designers the creative allowance that they’re looking for.
There has to be a middle ground — and there is!
For this article, we’re putting the tried-and-true classics on the shelf and turning to five simple, out of the box applications and software that can be keystones for beginners and professionals like.
Inkscape is one of the most popular alternatives to Adobe Illustrator, and that’s not just because it’s free — although “free” is a favorite word for most graphic designers!
Inkscape is arguably simpler to use than Illustrator, though there are plenty of tutorials out there if you get stuck along the way. It gives you more complicated options, such as the ability to edit the source code, along with a wide range of simple “point and click” options enabling even the newest of beginners to achieve their project goals.
The main caveat to the popularity of Inkscape is that it can tend to run more slowly than you might like.
Corel has long been an industry leader in software, and CorelDraw has a long and storied history. The newest variant of this software is an excellent choice for a simple, easy to use graphic design tool. Ideal for vector creation and editing, CorelDraw is a more cost-effective alternative to Adobe Creative Suite and Adobe Illustrator in particular, while cutting out the more extensive lag times that can be seen with Inkscape.
The learning curve on this one might be a bit more steep, but there is plenty of support for newcomers to design tools and software. However, if you’re an Apple user, you’re out of luck on this one as there is no Mac variant.
Another strong contender for a top choice from Corel, PhotoImpact is designed with a user-friendly interface. Easy to navigate and chock full of photo editing options, PhotoImpact provides a range of both simple and complicated tools to suit the needs of any designer who works with photo images.
It’s also compatible with 32 different types of image files, making it hugely adaptable for your needs.
The software is simple enough that it shouldn’t need much troubleshooting, but in the event that something isn’t quite right, it offers an extensive support system.
The main con, reportedly, is occasional slowness of movement as you develop a project and switch between tools.
Are you a new designer or simply looking for a new tool with a gradual learning curve? Serif Drawplus is worth a look.
A benchmark for simplicity in creating and editing photo images, vectors, and animations alike, Serif Drawplus was recently given a 9.2/10 by Top Ten Reviews, illustrating its usability in a variety of circumstances.
However, Serif Drawplus is notable for its lack of some photo editing features, such as panorama merging and HDR.
Another free-or-paid-version software, Vectr is among the simplest and easiest to use options available for a graphic designer. The user interface is ideal for a smooth design experience, and it can be used either as a standalone downloaded app or browser-based tool.
Vectr is created to enhance and facilitate intuitive design, allowing designers to bring their creativity to the entire process rather than just the end product. Vectr isn’t as popular as many of the other options we’ve listed here, but if you like the interface, it could be your new go-to favorite for simple designing options.
Simplicity In Design From The Very Beginning
Everything flows a little easier when the complexity is cut down, and it’s certainly true in the design world, too.
Crafting your designs shouldn’t be torture, and neither should learning how to work with the software and tools that you have available.
Of course, what works for one designer won’t necessarily work for another. That’s why it’s important to be open to new options and willing to give them a try and see whether they actually work for you.
Design is a highly personal, intuitive process. Good design software should facilitate that process, not get in the way. The simpler the process, the more easy it is to get results — and the less frustrating, more satisfying your design career will be.
David Anderson is a business graduate with a marketing major. He specializes in communication design and has helped many brands achieve their goals in marketing communication. Now he writes for freelance clients on topics related to brand design, visual communication, and marketing.