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Graphic challenges for online startups


Humans are visual by nature and I think that we all accept that as a fact. Most of us when starting out online promoting our business whether we like it or not will have to learn some basic graphic design unless we have the luxury of lots of funds to outsource everything to specialists.. 

How things look visually online matters because about 20% of our brain is there purely for vision (10 scientific reasons people are wired to respond to your visual marketing).

The old saying comes to mind “a picture speaks a 1000 words”.

However after accepting the need to use graphics – then the challenges creep in:

  • Sourcing graphics in the first place
  • What software or tool to use?
  • Resizing graphics to fit the platform/s you want them for
  • Optimising them for loading speed
  • To mention just a few common challenges

Startups will have to accept that when it comes to designing and creating graphics like it or not there will be some platform or piece of software for you to learn and thereafter apply to your ends.That’s simply a fact of life and unavoidable!

The challenge nowadays for many of us mere mortals – starting out – is to be able to create graphics that look modern – professional –  and have a good chance of standing out or being noticed online.

Graphic Challenges – The Good News

A decade ago there was little choice online when it came to sourcing royalty free graphics and what was available was poor without the use of a paid platform and I recall that part of my online journey as an expensive one. Nowadays the good mood news is that there are many choices online where you can source a wide variety of royalty free graphics to use in your design work. 


Graphic Challenges – The Bad News

 You still have work to do and another set of challenges because you have to decide what software or online platform you are going to use to create your own design from those great graphics. There are almost overwhelming choices of software and tools available online when it comes to graphic creation/design  or manipulation/modification.

Obviously the tool of choice used by most professional graphic designers is Photoshop. It is undoubtedly the Rolls-Royce of graphic design but just like most of you I am not a professional graphic designer nor do I intend to become one and the downside of Photoshop for most mere mortals is that it is a difficult platform to master. Yes some people will take to it like a duck to water but it is fair to say that many will struggle mastering  Photoshop.

You can also consider GIMP which is a free alternative to Photoshop but many especially beginners may find it too complex also. 

Personally I use Canva Pro for all of my design needs because it is a widely used platform online since 2013 and for me it is a one stop shop (one place) where I create graphics for all of my online platforms from my website to my social media accounts. Apart from having access to thousands of graphics you also have access to templates and lots of other features ( too many to list in this short blog post). In a nutshell Canva saves me a lot of time and that matters. Yes I am affiliated with Canva (at no extra cost to you) but I would remind you that you can use the basic version of Canva for free or indeed try out the Pro version free for 30 days. 

To Be Avoided

Whenever I come across an app /platform or software that claims to be a “Photoshop Killer”often touted by internet marketers – I run a mile. The simple fact is there are thousands of absolute rubbish products being offered online that indeed are far from simple quite often, usually quite limited in scope and most important of all never or rarely updated. In my earlier years I foolishly fell prey to a number of these products and platforms and in a nutshell I wasted both valuable time and money in my life. For those of you starting out don’t make my mistake.


My own takeaways with startups in mind

Accept that you will need to use some software or online platform to deal with graphics going forward.

Pick your tool or platform and learn it inside out and the only way to do so is to practice, make your mistakes, and learn.

Avoid at all costs the Photoshop Killers or the too good to be true tools because ultimately they are a waste of time. Master Photoshop or GIMP which is a free alternative or alternatively pick an all in one tool like Canva Pro which has a far lesser learning curve. these three toools have been around for a long time, they’re all tried and tested and trusted and the effort you put in and learning how to use them effectively will not go to waste.


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I specialise in helping service providers compete and grow online. Helping small business owners to learn what they have to learn to make use of the digital world. I can Design, Create and/or  Manage a  WordPress Site for you. 
I am a Canva Champion. 
I offer online workshops & 1 to 1 training on Zoom. My focus is to help you/ or teach you (or key staff)  to compete in the online space by creating customer-focused digital content. I will help you to glue together all the various bits so that your business can promote itself online successfully.

  Rosemary O’Shaughnessy

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