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Infographic-fantastic: A round-up of the best infographic tools out there

From photographs to illustrations, everyone loves visual data. It’s easy to take in, it’s easily shareable, and more than anything it’s fun! It’s a brilliant way to drum up interest and share statistics or research that can otherwise be a bit dry.

Infographics are a great marketing tool – yet forking out for a designer is often beyond the reach of many small business budgets.

Luckily there are some great tools out there for you to create your own- we tested out seven of the best and rated them. Now go forth and infrographic-ise!

2013_06_27_PIKTOCHART

PIKTOCHART

DESIGN: Bright and breezy, the pre-made templates are effective, professional, and don’t look cheesy. The colour schemes are appealing and there are a range of graphics and texts you can use to customise it. 8/10

USABILITY: Pretty easy, although it can get annoying trying to move the different boxes around if they are overlapping. It’s still in beta, so will probably improve with time. You can customise it a lot, which enables you to make it personal, and it’s very easy and simple to pick up. Charts are easy to make, and the drop and drag system is miles ahead a lot of other infrographic tools. 9/10

FEATURES: You can upload your own images (a maximum of 5 for the free version) or use pre-uploaded graphics – there’s a great range of universal ones, plus theme-specific images that keep it all looking very ‘together’. You can also make a range of charts – the free version has a good basic selection, with more ‘unlocked’ in the pro version. 8/10

PRICING: It’s free – and the free version is great for the odd infographic. If you want to make infographics a regular feature, then you can upgrade to a professional account for $29 (£18.98) a month, or $169 (£110.63) a year. 9/10

2013_06_27_easelly_v1

EASELLY

DESIGN: Sleek and clean – a good blank canvas to work from. The toolbox is at the top with helpful symbols to help you find your way around. The pre-made templates, again, are very professional. 8/10

USABILITY: It’s easy to use, with a lot of customisation opportunities. If you want to work almost from scratch with a clear idea of what you want to do, this would be a good choice. However the tool could be baffling if you’d prefer more guidance – and the pre-made templates, while great, are very specific. The font choices look a little unprofessional and basic (Comic Sans is an option – gross). It’s also not supported by IE, so better get your Chrome or Firefox on. 5/10

FEATURES: You can upload your own images, or use the fun range of graphics (a lot of silhouetted people doing activities, mainly). You can’t make charts though, which is a thumbs-down. 5/10

PRICING: It’s all totally free! Hooray! 10/10

2013_06_27_infogram_v1

INFOGRAM

DESIGN: Very sleek, with hardly any words – it’s all classy icons, which takes a minute or two to get to grips with. The templates are no-nonsense, very professional, and well-laid out, though the colour schemes are fairly conservative. 7/10

USABILITY: It’s fairly easy to use, but you’re not as free to customise as with other tools, and it takes a while to get used to it. The pre-loaded templates are very good – it’s an excellent choice if your infographic doesn’t need a lot of customisation – but if you need a very flexible tool, best go elsewhere, or stump up for the paid version. 6/10

FEATURES: You can upload your own images, but there are no pre-loaded graphics. There are a great range of charts – best for infographics that are heavy on data and words. 6/10

PRICING: It’s free, but if you want to share it you’ll need to upgrade to pro – a reasonable $9 (£5.89) a month. This gives you some more themes, and password protection. 8/10

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TABLEAU PUBLIC

An Infographic tool with a difference, this one is very data-based (and excel-lent – groan).

DESIGN: Not as ‘cool’ as the others, and a bit intimidating, to be honest. It doesn’t stack up next to the sleek designs we’ve seen so far. 2/10

USABILITY: The most difficult of the tools so far, you have to download the software directly to your computer. You then import data – excel files, word docs – to create very accurate data-based visualisations. You can also analyse this data too. It’s a good idea but complicated and quite overwhelming. 3/10

FEATURES: You can come up with some really impressive data visualisations, analyse your data, import spreadsheets. It’s very clever, but lacking in the ‘fun’ factor. 5/10

PRICING: The public version is free – and frankly, with the other versions starting at $999 (or £657) you’ll probably want to plump for that one. 8/10

2013_06_27_balsamiq-v1

BALMSAMIQ

DESIGN: A bit staid, and the web demo is confusing and crowded. One of our least favourites. There doesn’t seem to be much choice in the infographics themselves – 2/10

USABILITY: The web demo, at least, is confusing to use and doesn’t give a shining view of what the programme might be capable of. There are some exciting-sounding features, but it’s hard to get to grips with. Obvious things, like changing the font, are hard to do. 2/10

FEATURES: Lots of fun pre-stored graphics, such as iPhone keyboards and post-its. You can put in forms and charts too. 7/10

PRICING: For a one-off fee of $79 (£51.96) you get the software. Not brilliant value, given the difficulty of using it. 3/10

2013_06_27_vennage_v1

VENNGAGE

DESIGN: Simple, no-nonsense, a bit dated-looking. It’s not overly stylish, and we can’t comment on the pre-made templates, as there are none available. 6/10

USABILITY: It’s pretty bare – you essentially have to make the Infographic from scratch, which is good if you have your own creative vision, but bad if you’re not graphically gifted (like me, as you can tell from our example). But its simplicity is potentially great, and it’s easy to get the hang of. 8/10

FEATURES: Plenty of pre-stored graphics, backgrounds, options to upload images and create charts – there are lots of things you can do with this programme. 8/10

PRICING: Free, unless you want the Premium version, which will set you back $19 (or £12.46), for which you get unlimited infographics, PDF export, and premium themes. 8/10

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VISUALLY

Disclaimer: This one’s a bit of an outlier, as you don’t do the work yourself – you provide the title, information, choose an aesthetic style and a layout, and let a dedicated team of designers whip you up an infographic.

DESIGN: Friendly beyond belief, if a little cluttered. Very welcoming and inviting, and the layout is actually simple to use underneath the overcrowded pages. 8/10

USABILITY: Choosing the options for your infographic is very easy, and if you are stuck there is a handy chat feature where a representative can talk you through the process. 9/10

FEATURES: You have a lot of control over your infographic – from choosing the initial aesthetic look, to approving the results. The team is not just made up of designers, but also journalists, photographers and illustrators. This means that you can also have shiny wonderful copy if you need it. 9/10

PRICING: At $1000 (£655) it’s hardly comparable to the others. However, if a lot is resting on an infographic, this is still a good value way to get a whole team of professionals helping you out. 2/10

So who wins?

 

Piktochart Easelly Infogram Tableau Public Balsamiq Venngage Visually
DESIGN 8 8 7 2 2 6 8
USABILITY 9 5 6 3 2 8 9
FEATURES 8 5 6 5 7 8 9
PRICING 9 10 8 8 3 8 2
  34 33 27 18 14 30 28

And the winner is… PIKTOCHART, with its easy-to-use interface and great selection of free templates!