Piktochart….charting with fewer numbers and more graphics [updated]

Cost: Free (limited options)
Type: Internet tool
Rating: 4/5

Picktochart LogoI love the infographic trend! Okay, I’m a little behind since that trend has been around for a several years, but since infographics often are based on numbers, it took me a while to understand them since I’m an English major. Granted, infographics can be used for evil, especially on unsuspecting English majors who have to do math in order to figure out if the statistics are even logical. But, I still think they’re cool and I want to make them myself. Actually, my quest did not begin with the idea of making an infographic (again, because I don’t want to deal with numbers), but rather the need to create one-page newsletters and cheat sheets that are visually appealing. I tried using a table in Word to create a newsletter that I could swap information in and out of like a template…yeah, tragic. Then, I moved on to Scribus (think InDesign or Publisher desktop publishing)…yep, epic fail. But, Piktochart lets me create a streamlined and interesting looking one-page newsletter without much fail or epic involved.

Piktochart view

After logging in, you can choose the type of document you want to create and then the template.

Goal: create a one-page newsletter like document to briefly review the unit’s highlights

Benefits:

  • I only partially paid attention to the brief tutorial, and was still able to figure the tool out.
  • As you maneuver textboxes and graphics around your workspace, guidelines appear so you can easily line each feature up prior to placing it. (e.g., all icons can be lined up in a row)
  • Great selection of backgrounds, graphics, and icons to choose from (even in the free version)

Drawbacks:

  • The phrasing of some of the tools and features is a little confusing. E.g., adding a “block” is adding a whole new page, whereas I think of block as a textbox or module on the page
  • Some of the TEXT FRAME options are really interesting, but you can’t edit the color or font size for most.
  • You can’t make text changes to single words in a textbox…it’s either all bold or not at all. It’s also single-space.
  • PNG and JPG are the only file download options, unless you “level up” (i.e., pay), then you can download as a PDF….I have Adobe Acrobat Pro, so I can convert the JPG to a PDF
  • I can’t seem to reuse my completed projects as templates for new projects. Right now, I’m just cloning a page to appear at the end of the document; when I download the whole JPG, I can download each page (block) as separate files.

Piktochart workspace view

Once you’ve selected your template, this is what the workspace looks like.

Insider View: They love educators! So says their website. Thus, educators can qualify for $15/year rather than $15/month. Ahhhh, it’s good to be an educator. (Note: I haven’t yet hear back about whether I qualify, and I applied several weeks prior to this post.)**

Final Thoughts: I know there are other similar tools out there, but this is the first one that I’ve invested time in trying, and I feel my time has paid off. We’ll see what my students think next term, though they may not notice since the documents look so professional, so they may assume our very talented course designers are responsible for the documents. (Well, one can dream.)

**UPDATE: So, the educator rate has changed as of November 2015. It’s $40/year, which still isn’t bad, but it isn’t as cheap as originally posted. I’m still debating the costs since there are free tools that I can use when needing more variety.

Link: http://piktochart.com

 

Samples:

Sample 1

This is one of the newsletters I created for students. As you can see, not much of an infographic, but it does what I wanted.

Sample 2

I’m not sure if I’m going to share this one with students, as it seems to be text-heavy. But, again, it does the job.

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