5 Things I Learned From Developing A Free Graphic Design Tool For Everyone

My name is Liuda, and I work at Depositphotos. For the past 9 months, my team has been developing Crello — a free editor that helps create all kinds of marketing and promotional visuals. We have some valuable insights on how people use free content, how non-designers struggle with designing things and why you should always show a beta version to your friend. We’d like to share some of our findings.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Everybody loves free content but it hurts your business eventually

Since free images were to become a crucial part of our product, we did some research and surveys on where, when and how users usually find visual content for their projects. It turns out, most users had a maximum one or two free image sources, and they used this content on a daily basis. Similarly, the same free content is used hundreds (if not thousands) of times by different brands, companies, and individuals. There is a high risk your target audience will see the same photo you use in a Facebook ad like the one in the promo of your competitor and also in the email digest of some other brand.

2. If you are not a designer, your visual idea will (probably) die

It is hard enough to search for images, but finding ideas is much harder. Especially if you want to create some visual and you do not have design skills. Non-designers often face the same problem — they do not know how to implement their idea into a visual form and feel discouraged watching their attempts go in vain.

3. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry knew a thing or two about product development

If you want to create a valuable product and help users with a complex problem, you need to learn the art of taking small steps. One by one, we implemented functions that seemed necessary, based on struggles of both designers and non-designers who were creating visuals. We are in the continuous processes of communication with our audience and searching for important issues. “Give me a subtle flair to distinguish primary from the secondary.” — wrote Antoine, and we found this to be the ultimate truth in product development.

4. Don’t stereotype your user — it’s a trap

There are lots of great graphic editors in the market that are being used by millions of people. During the competitor research, we found one problem that none of them managed to eliminate (or maybe even notice). Most of the ready-to-use designs are very stereotypic: hipster coffee shop ad, dull corporate email header, quirky looking B-day invitation. We found out that people just want a well-composed template they can customize, and they want to have a wide choice of visuals. There are too many businesses, styles, topics, and attitudes. No need to make decisions for your users, just provide a useful tool for them.

5. Show an MVP to your noob friend — she’s got something to say

It was a great idea to show Crello to someone who is relatively new to something like digital design creations. One of the defining features we come up was inspired by my friend who had previously never used any graphic design tool. She quickly understood how to create a Facebook ad, but felt a little lost when she couldn’t use the pic she bought for another template. “Why should I spent $0.99 on the same image each time?” — she asked. And she was right.



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