youzign – You are the designer

I was browsing (on the web, not outside…) the other day and eventually the dreadful moment came for me to go through my mailbox. I had not gotten the chance to do that for a few days, so I was procrastinating going through all the newsletters I am subscribed for. I did that and noted a few interesting gadgets and services, that I marked as future (not-going-to-happen) reading material. Then I decided to check my newly registered and still exciting twitter account.

Someone had tweeted about this thing called Youzign. What caught my attention was the article’s heading: “Why I ditched Photoshop and why you should too”… or something like this. I do not remember the website (otherwise I would quote it here), but anyone claiming that Photoshop is replaceable deserves a nice laugh. I actually never read the article, I went directly to youzign.com, as that’s what I wanted to investigate!

I registered in what appeared to be a not so well maintained WordPress site. The ‘marketing’ tools of the creators were absolutely amateur hour… the main advertising material on their homepage was a terrifying GIF image showing some functionality of the service they offered (or a lamb sacrifice or something).

It all looked so ‘rip-off’-ish that I even used my spam e-mail to register. Nice thing that got me to do it was the 14-day trial they offered. It says they don’t want your billing info for the Trial and it speaks the truth (unlike some other web sites…).

And here I am, 1 day later, having used it for about a total of 1 hour, and here’s my My Designs page:

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OK, let me show you what it’s all about.

You register, you get a confirmation e-mail and you automatically get 14 days trial version, no payment info required (so far, so f-in’ good!).

You can start a new design from blank, but I don’t think that this flash-based software is the most easy-to-use design app out there. Best part is you can simply start from a ready template. You get a few templates, and the creators promise to add 100 new templates every week! I have to admit, this appears to be *kinda* impossible and highly unlikely (to say the least). But who knows… so, they have those templates divided into sections. You have banners, business cards, Facebook/YouTube/Twitter headers, kindle covers, e-book covers, etc.

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Say you are designing this (started from a Facebook cover image template)…

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This is what the design screen looks like, you can work with layers (to some basic extent), you have all your tools in a movable box on the right, you have all your available assets on the left, divided in categories, etc. However, this being a Flash application, it is a bit buggy, as expected. Undo functionality is quite messed up, also sometimes text shortens or changes size/color/both on its own… pretty much there are issues! But it’s still a pretty great service to have, as far as you don’t get easily annoyed.

What I found very useful is the preview option. While you are creating a specific design you can have a specific preview of it shown. It’s always scenario-specific and helps you get an overview of how will your design look when put to use. For this one I had selected a Facebook cover template, so clicking on the preview button gave me this view:

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And then you get the result exported in the proper resolution, in a well compressed PNG image file.:

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It’s really nice, especially as you know that a part of the image is going to be behind the profile pic, behind some text and buttons. And these were always specific for the design. Let’s say the design of this YouTube channel header:

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This gave me this really nice preview option:

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And the last nice preview option I want to point out is for the business cards. They have a few designs, I really liked this one:

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And it had this awesome preview screen:

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Overall youzign is a nice online marketing graphics tool that lets you easily create various digital materials to improve you business identity and lets you keep your consistency across various social media sites. It’s far from Photoshop (and probably this should stay that way) but it’s quite versatile and provides a nice alternative to hiring ‘designers’ on Fiverr.

My advice? Head to Youzign.com and sign-up. Play with it for 14 days and then decide if it’s worth the extra $10 per month, or $97 per year, or even the limited offer available now – $197 for a lifetime license. Actually, not that bad! But if you only need a Facebook cover remodeled once a year, you are better off with Fiverr.

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