What does it do?
Developing slick, glossy, eye-catching posters or leaflets bringing statistics to life used to require the skill and flair of a graphic designer. There are now, however, a number of tools out there which can help you design and create bold and visually appealing 'infographics' utilising colour, shape and text to present yourself or your work in a way that will have people sitting up and taking notice.
Piktochart specialises in the production of infographic posters and brochures but can also be used to produce presentations with a little more impact than the usual Powerpoint-style approach. There are a range of very professional-looking pre-produced templates which you can reuse for your own content. You then create simple data tables representing the information or statistics you wish to present, which can be transformed into a variety of appealing visual formats - bar charts, pie charts, matrices, scatter charts, area shapes and many more.
You can upload your own images or even embed video, or you can use a gallery of shapes, icons, buttons and colour schemes. You can see a simple example of a Piktochart infographic here - it took about 30 minutes to put together, and was done without any knowledge of graphic design or typography, and all within an hour of starting to use Piktochart.
When would you use it?
Students may find it a useful tool for group or individual poster presentations, or to accompany verbal presentations. It could also be used to develop content for your CV or portfolio for prospective employers - it would certainly help you stand out! Teaching Staff may also find it useful as a means of presenting personal or programme-related information on open days or marketing events, or as an alternative to Powerpoint. Researchers might use it for poster presentations at conferences and seminars, while Administrative staff might find it useful for jazzing up annual reports or strategic documents and presentations.
Here's a tutorial from the Piktochart team's guest blogger Mike Petty on how you might use it in a classroom setting and a fine video on the same topic from Alice Garza via the influential TED-Ed people.
How does it work?
Piktochart is a web-based tool and is therefore free for anyone with a web browser. If you haven't used design programmes before then don't worry - you should be up to speed quickly. It's aimed squarely at the average user - it's quite intuitive and easy to navigate.
Once you've set up an account, your infographics projects are stored on the website. They can be retrieved and re-edited, copied or re-purposed. They can also be downloaded as PDF, JPEG or PNG files.
The video below gives a short overview of the basic features of the app;
And this video is a more in-depth look at the functions of Piktochart;
Where can I access it?
Piktochart is available from their website. The basic version is free, and does all you would expect of an entry-level graphic design tool. If you want more features or a larger range of templates you can pay an annual subscription. The Lite tier of subscription gives you access to the full range of 600+ templates and some of the higher tiers allow greater customisation and personalisation should you require it. But you probably won't.
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