If you work in a school library like I do, you are probably always on the look out for tools and software that make your life easier. When I am limited in time but want to achieve big things, I need great resources to help me get things done. That’s why I jumped at the chance to trial and review Visme. I was provided with four months access to a business account in exchange for an honest review. I’ve looked at this platform from a school library staff member’s perspective.
What is Visme?
Visme is an online platform for creating graphic designs, presentations, documents, charts and survey results, videos and anything where you need to combine great design with visual communication. You can find out more about Visme here.
I have to admit that while I am always on the look out for new products, software and tools, when I first heard about Visme, my first thought was “but what’s different and do I really need this?” Between all the other platforms I already use, what was my point of need that Visme would fill? Overall, when first trying Visme, it does everything you need it to do. It’s easy to find your way around and quick to get started. As for the point of difference, for me as a librarian, it was the animation graphics. But more about that later.
As Visme is an online platform, the first thing you need to do to get started is create an account. Of course, in creating an account you have to make a decision about cost. So, let’s talk about that first.
Visme currently offers four plans. There is a basic plan that is free. You can design with 100MB of storage and access a limited range of templates and designs but the major downside of this free account is you can’t actually download your projects. In my mind, that makes the free account pretty useless. The next plan is a personal plan, offering 250MB of storage, full access to template and graphics and download options in JPG, PNG and PDF for $12.25 US dollars a month, billed yearly. The next plan up, and the one I was given access to, is the Business plan. 3GB of storage, download options that now also include video, and other features including the brand kit. You are looking at $24.75 US dollars per month billed yearly for this account. Visme offers an education plan billed per semester, at $96 US dollars a year for educators and $48 US dollars a year for students. More details can be found on pricing and what you get with each plan here.
Setting up your account with Visme is quick and easy.
One of the features I loved in the set up was the Brand Wizard. After putting in my website URL, and a bit of thinking time, Visme pulled my logo and suggested my brand kit colours and fonts, adding these to my brand kit.
On that note, Visme is perfect for businesses with a brand. You can search for templates filtering for your brand style and has a brand kit with your assets, colours and fonts ready to use. This is also perfect for school libraries with a clear brand – whether you are using your school colours and fonts or have a specific style for the library.
Visme helps you start creating with a range of templates to choose from in a variety of categories, layouts and styles. You can search and refine to find what you need. Most of the pre-designed templates have a strong corporate feel. There are much fewer templates and styles available compared to other design platforms I’ve used before. All the designs helpful for a school library staff member are present – presentations, infographics, web and social media graphics and videos.
Once a design template or blank template has been selected, a menu down the left hand side lets you add layouts, graphics, photos, audio and video media, data and more. If using a free account, you are limited in which of these you can access. There are plenty of options to select from when adding these design elements, but I did find the selection much more limited compared to other software I’ve used before.
You design your project through simple drag and drop, with additional options along the top menu. Features like background removal on photos, colour overlays, and other effects were all available and easy to find and use.
I mentioned above my interest in Visme’s ability to animate and use animations in designs. And I’m not just talking about graphics swooping in or flashing as they enter the screen a la PowerPoint. Visme offers object and character animations that really move and look great.
The human characters can wave, walk, clap, explain, work on a laptop and strike a range of poses. There are lots of casual and professional human, mascot and robotic characters to choose from and you can edit their colours for customisation. You can also select from other animations that include hands and gestures.
This feature really caught my attention for creating library presentations. I went to work creating a character that fitted my look and created a presentation where my character welcomes people to the Library. Adding my own voice over to the presentation made it really come to life. Sharing as a video and done. It looks and sounds great but means I don’t have to video myself or put my face on the presentation. This feature is ideal for library orientation videos or presentations, how-to guides or even library lessons where you need things to come to life a little bit more. Using the same for social media would also be ideal.
And sharing these projects is even easier. Yes, you can download your project but you can also share, link to and embed. Like the video above, I simply clicked on the Share button, selected embed and copied the code into my website here. It would be ideal for adding to a library website, homepage or research guide using any HTML or WYSIWYG editor. I can’t wait to make the most of this feature.
What could I use it for?
Basically everything that you might need to create as a printable or digital design. Use it for creating a Library report, creating your library strategic plan or handbook, social media graphics or videos for your school library account. Create slides or graphics for your digital display on your library screen, posters for upcoming events, share results of a school library survey or brand audit, make really large signage or displays, or design how-to videos. Create banners or icons for your school library website or homepage or share loan statistics or top borrowed books.
What Visme doesn’t offer is a way to get our students creating or to combine the whole library team within the Visme platform without custom pricing – often out of the reach of our school library budgets.
Overall, Visme is a great online design program. Easy to use to create high quality design products, even without design training, Visme offers a vast range of templates and design elements. Visme also offers similar features that you would find with other platforms, including content scheduling, brand kits, a range of templates and a range of export features. It also offers points of different, particularly around the use of character animation features.
For someone working in a school library, I think access to an easy graphic design program is a must. We produce so many posters, digital displays, social media graphics and presentations, that it needs to be quick and easy to create what you need and Visme certainly offers that. Visme is designed for business use but can be used for the school library as many of the things we need to do and create fit within those standard business needs. However, there are some downsides, including not being able to use the platform for student-created works without significant costs.
Does the cost justify the benefits? For me, the final decision does come down to cost due to our limited school library budgets. Other platforms are more directly targeted towards education settings, allow for group and class structures within the platform and allow students and teams (like the library team) to connect and collaborate and all at either very low cost or no cost at all and that is hard to beat. That said, the ability to use the character animations to create awesome presentations is extremely exciting. I love the high quality product outputs and what this would mean for our library presentations and guides.
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