This article by VerticalResponse CEO and founder Janine Popick originally appeared on

At VerticalResponse, I’m lucky to have an in-house creative department that designs all our marketing materials, ads, website, etc. I’m always impressed at how they can translate complicated technology and processes into content that’s visual and easy to follow for a non-technical person (like the majority of our small business customers).

I try to do the same in my work because:

  1. It helps reinforce what I’m trying to communicate
  2. It just makes things more interesting to the people on the receiving end
  3. It often makes things easier to understand

Over the past few months, I’ve found some really great and easy-to-use design tools that give my stuff some creative flair. The best part? You don’t need an art degree or any kind of design background.

Here are three of my at-the-moment faves. The cherry on top: They’re all free!

This tool is very cool for online presentations; you’ll look like a star! With Prezi, you can zoom in and around your presentation to emphasize certain text or images. It’s similar to a camera that focuses in on and pans out around different areas of a whiteboard to tell a story. It’s a visually impactful way of communicating to your audience, and definitely a cut above the standard PowerPoint deck. The one drawback: You need a fast Internet connection to run it. Cost: Free

Lucidchart is a tool that lets you visually display and share any process you need to document. It’s great for creating diagrams, charts, mockups, site maps and more. I like it because it’s very user intuitive; you just drag and drop shapes and lines. Plus, if you need to collaborate with someone else on another computer, you can both work on a chart at the same time because everything is saved in the cloud. No more sending files and multiple versions back and forth! Cost: Free

I like Scrollkit because it’s just plain fun and puts a smile on my face every time I use it. They make it easy to create a cool Web page without any coding. Everything is moveable on the page and you can drag and drop graphics, images and text wherever you like. There’s even a pencil tool if you feel like drawing something from scratch. Give it a try, but watch out; the fun could be addictive. Cost: Free

If you’re looking for something to give your presentations, documents or Web pages a little oomph, give one of these tools a shot for your next project. You might be surprised at how well it’s received!

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