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Need a Content Tool? 5 Cool Reasons Visme Is My New Go To

Are you a content marketing specialist? Are you rocking social media for your customers? Ever need to put together a video ad? If so, you probably need a tool to whip up a quick infographic, create an Instagram image, or even create a video. 

For the last couple of months, I’ve been trying out Visme. It’s quickly become my go-to for all my graphic and video design. It’s also pretty much replaced PowerPoint as my presentation tool. 

Visme brands itself as the all-in-one visual design tool. They play in the same space as tools like Canva. Visme’s mission is to open the doors of visual communication for everyone. They’ve done a pretty good job.  

Visme has a familiar look and feel to other content design tools, but that’s only the initial impression. Once you get into doing a project, you’ll soon see there’s a lot of power under the hood.

Note: I have been using the business-level version of the tool. This level sells at $29 per month if you pay annually ($49 monthly). That puts it well above the pricing of its closest competitor. I think it might be worth it, though. 

Here are 5 reasons why I love it. 

Top 5 Reasons Why Visme is now my go to content design tool

1. Coordinates and sizing give you more control

Okay, this one may seem nerdy, but it has saved me so much time. Other tools rely more on drag-and-drop positioning and eye-balling sizing. Sometimes, you can find yourself spending precious minutes – or if you’re anal like me, hours — making sure your graphical elements are the right size or in the right place. Visme has solved this issue by adding a little box of power. Here you can manually type in the height and width of the object and even enter the x and y coordinates. If you want, you can lock or unlock the aspect ratio of the object. This level of control adds a quick and easy way to make your graphics and videos more professional. To me, it’s a killer feature. 

The sizing and position box are game-changers.
The little box on the bottom-left is a game-changer!

2. Advance timeline lets you direct the action.

They say timing is everything. If you’re creating video ads for social media, every second is critical. An extra second of playtime or a frame that is too short can mean a lost click-through.

A video I created using Visme.

Visme defaults to a simple timeline for your video projects. That’s great for quick and dirty tasks. But wait! It expands! If you select the advanced mode, you can control every element on every video frame with sub-second precision. This feature helps you do all sorts of things with animation and timing. Like the coordinates feature, it enables you to make make your content that much more professional. 

The advanced timeline feature gives you complete control.
The advanced timeline feature gives you complete control.

3. An intuitive way to find the templates you need

Other tools have templates for almost everything you need. Visme just organizes them a little better. While I often find I have to search with other tools, Visme’s prompts at the top of their template menu make it super-easy to find what you need quickly.  

Clear options in the side-bar menu.
Clear options in the side-bar menu.

Visme also has a great library of presentation templates that are easy to adapt to your needs. In fact, I have started using Visme for all my proposal and sales decks. 

Social media template choices point you in the right direction.
Social media template choices point you in the right direction.

4. A wide array of animated elements (and characters)

Super-customizable animated characters.
Super-customizable animated characters.

The first thing I did with Visme was to create a character graphic for a blog post I was writing for a customer. These things are fantastic and incredibly easy to customize. I was also able to complete the work in minutes. Additionally, there are also tons of animated icons, avatars, special effects, and graphics. They are easy to use and, again, take your work up a notch. 

The finished-product -- an animated gif with a character.
The finished-product — an animated gif with a character.

5. An authentic customer community

Another thing I quickly came to love about Visme is how invested the team is in communicating with their user community. They often schedule live webinars where the company CEO walks through new features and takes questions. They also have a complete set of resources and on-demand courses that focus on general visual design and creating specific types of content. They quickly respond when you send a tweet their way. This commitment to showing their community how to use Visme well demonstrates the team’s passion for their product. 

Bonus: It’s so much more than an infographic and presentation tool!

I’ve only scratched the surface of things you can do with Visme. There is a lot more there that really sets it apart from other apps.

For example, You can use Visme to create other forms of content. Anything from printables, to scatter plots, and social media graphics.

Their graphs and charts tools are a cut above others. They have some nice visualizations and are easy to work with. You can also create scatter plots. You can import data into Visme from Google or Excel to make these work.

There are a suite of printable templates. I haven’t had the chance to use them yet, but their flyers templates look promising.

One other feature I am hoping to try soon is there survey graph maker. This looks like a great way to display visual survey results to my customers.

Things that can still get better

Visme is a relatively new player in the content design space, so there are a few wrinkles. Addressing these can help the product get even better. I’ve listed some of them below. 

Image and video library (and search)

While the library content is multiplying, I’ve noticed that finding the right image or video clip takes too much time with Visme. I am not sure if this is due to the content itself or their search algorithm. 

One thing that would really improve the library is to add more diversity to their images and videos. Customers demand diversity in their content and having a quick way to find an image or video clip to meet those needs would be a great help.  

Being able to change project type

So Visme only allows certain project types to be downloaded as videos. The problem? If you’ve already created your project using a template that doesn’t support video and you’d like to change it, you can’t. At least there’s no way I’ve found to do it. It means starting the project over in the format you’d like to change to. I’ve been burned by this a couple of times. 

Background audio tracks on video

Visme has a great library of sound and music for your projects. The problem is that if you want to add it to the entire project, you’ll need to do it on the main menu for the project. And it’s a bit buried. Additionally, once you’ve added the track, you can’t really edit it. For example, if you’d like to match certain elements (say, a big swell of horns) to a specific place in your presentation, you can’t do it. Finally, if the track itself is longer than your video, you can’t fade it out at the end.

Downloading speed — especially for videos

This is probably a growing pains issue, but download times, especially for video, are long. I was doing a 25-second ad for a customer, and it took nearly 20 minutes to download the finished copy. This made it challenging to quickly share edits (my customers aren’t using Visme themselves yet). One nice thing is that Visme will email you when the video is done. 

Easier branding and color palettes for multiple customers

Visme has a nice set of pre-built color palettes. It also has integration with Brandfetch, which can be helpful if you’re working with larger companies. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an easy way to create color palettes (and fonts) based on my customers’ branding guidelines. And once I do make a palette, they aren’t at my fingertips when I need them. 

Visme is an excellent choice for visual content design

If you are looking for a more powerful but not overwhelming content design tool, then you really can’t go wrong with Visme. While it is more expensive than some competitors, it delivers more functionality. There is a passionate team behind the tool. They are accessible and genuinely want to make a great product and help you make great designs. To me, that makes all the difference. 

I’ll definitely continue using Visme and have migrated almost all of my projects over to their platform.

Want to learn more? Check out Visme here.

Confessions of A Failed Quarantine Home-school “Teacher” (And Five Thoughts That Could Help)

About a week before the whole world stopped, I was sitting in my son’s third grade classroom. I was there to watch his class present their family heritage projects. For the most part, the kids were respectful of their peers and listened, but there was one thing that stood out to me – the room seethed with motion. The parents sat in chairs in the center of the room while 27 or so third graders orbited the room. What was even stranger is that my son’s teacher seemed perfectly fine with it and, more importantly, it seemed to work.

I am cringing as my son screams at me about how much he hates i-Ready and just can’t do it anymore. I try not to yell back as I explain that he only needs to do twenty minutes of reading and math each and then we can move to other things.

Flash forward to this morning. I am cringing as my son screams at me about how much he hates i-Ready and just can’t do it anymore. I try not to yell back as I explain that he only needs to do twenty minutes of reading and math each and then we can move to other things. It is now day thirtysomething of this forced homeschool experience. Every day is like the next. I am “lucky” enough to have this time to spend with him. I was furloughed at the beginning of April. I jumped in with both feet making schedules and planning the day’s work. The day always starts with good intentions and ends with tears.

Here I am, a proponent of Ed Tech and I can’t make it work with my son. I feel like I’ve failed. But here’s the thing… There is a flaw in this system.

I am trying to get my son to sit and be productive like an office worker. I am asking him to spend hours sitting in front of his laptop using a myriad of disjointed tools and slide decks.

It frustrates me that he won’t just sit still and do the work. If he’d just hit his targets he could be done and out in the yard by 2:30pm. But now it’s 4:56pm on Thursday. He hasn’t done all his assignments for the day. I’ve just gotten a note from his teacher that everything is due tomorrow. I don’t know how we will get it done.

So, what’s wrong? I think back to his classroom — The constant motion and interactivity. The kids could ask questions of each other, be themselves, move around, and sit in different places. It was a much more natural state for an 8-year-old. Now I am asking him to clock time in front of a laptop.

I also think about what he likes to do. It’s full of activity. Even when he is watching YouTube videos, the energy is different than the EdTech tools he has today.

Of course, It’s not his teachers’ fault. They are trying to navigate this situation as best they can. In most cases, they also found themselves in this new world with extraordinarily little notice and they are learning on the fly. It’s also not really a problem with the EdTech tools themselves. They weren’t meant for this situation. The ones we are using were meant to supplement regular instruction but not replace it.

I also think about what he likes to do. It’s full of activity. Even when he is watching YouTube videos, the energy is different than the EdTech tools he has today.

Again, I am part of the problem. I’ve spent the last twentysomething years chasing greater productivity and let’s face it. 8-year-olds are not thrilled by productivity. So, what would be better?

5 thoughts on a better approach to interactive remote education

1. YouTube-ify it!

Both of my kids and all their friends love YouTube videos. There are a few things in common with all of these.

  • They are irreverent and unscripted (or at least feel that way)
  • They are loud and have a lot of music
  • They usually involve something that is a “challenge” or a mystery to solve.
  • They are almost always of someone doing something else (e.g., playing Minecraft or trying new products).

We could use this energy-packed, quick hitting format in the media content created for online instruction.

2. Gamify it!

I used to think gamifying could be simple like earning badges, but I am starting to think that is my “dad” way of thinking about this. Sure, I still get a thrill our of badges on my workout apps, but nothing my kid does has anything similar. Back to YouTube…  My son watches 3 main types of videos:

  • Gaming – playing Minecraft or some other game and commentating on what is happening
  • Challenges/Mystery – doing something for a specific period – often there is not even a tangible award for completing the challenge
  • Making and/or trying something – trying a new fishing lure (my son loves fishing) or unboxing a product from amazon — and reporting on the result

It’s a more classic concept of gamification he enjoys. it might work well with educations. Some possible examples:

  • A reading challenge where you hide quietly for 20 minutes. the challenge is for no one to find you until you’re done.
  • Record yourself making a meal and explain why it’s healthy or even unhealthy.
  • Record yourself building a structure out of household items and explain why it stays up or doesn’t.
  • Watch a video about a subject, say sea horses, and record your reactions as you watch.

The problem is that these things are all done on different apps or on different platforms. The results are uploaded to different locations.

3. Channel it!

I do have to say that there are some examples of the tactics mentioned above in my son’s instruction today. In fact, our biggest success was recording an Earth Day video of him re-purposing a soda can into a mini lantern (incidentally, something he learned on YouTube).

The problem is that these things are all done on different apps or on different platforms. The results are uploaded to different locations.

A better solution would be for each student to have their own channel where they upload all their videos. Teachers and peers could subscribe and comment (perhaps rate positively) the videos. In fact, constructive commentary could be a participation component of the curriculum 

4. Mobilize it!

The biggest challenge mentioned above is that my son does most of the work stationary in front of a laptop. Most of the apps, at least in my experience, don’t work as well on mobile device. There are a couple of things that could help here.’

  • Schools could give kids a mobile camera that works easily with a smart phone or tablet. I’ve found that my son likes to use cameras that are not part of his devices.
    • Instruction should be based on smaller form factors such as a 7-10-inch tablet or smart phone. Something portable that a kid can easily move around and interact with.

5. Individualize it!

If we used more of these type of tools with instruction being mode parameter based, students could individualize their content. They may be able to engage in ways that stimulate their own interests and creativity.

Where it’s appropriate the social channel could be used for sharing and interacting with other students. This would also be done via video. Of course, Teachers would have to ensure that commentary is appropriate and student work is protected from any type of bullying.

These are just a few thoughts on how maybe we could increase engagement and adoption during these times, especially if we find ourselves in a similar situation in the autumn (let’s hope not). I am definitely not suggesting replacing teachers, their expertise, or curriculum. I also realize that there need to be some more traditional style instructional tools. I am only thinking of ways that we can engage kids where they are, make things a bit more fun, and maybe avoid a shouting match or two.

3 Keys to Remote Project Management Success (and One Mistake to Avoid)

Maybe remote project management is your dream job, or maybe the situation with COVID-19 forced you into it. No matter the reason, you must make it a success. Managing a project remotely doesn’t have to be difficult if you keep a few keys in mind and let yourself be a little creative. Here are 3 keys (and one thing to avoid) for successful remote project management:

1. It’s all about people

This is a key for any type of project management, but it’s even more important for managing projects remotely. Gone are the impromptu chats around the coffee pot or before the meeting. Instead, our days become chunked into one-hour or even 30-minute conference calls. It may be tempting to just get right to business – that is after everyone connects to the call, figures out their mute button, and settles down whatever is going on behind them. Make sure you have an agenda item, or even a note on your own, to ask people how they are doing – to connect. You don’t need any crazy icebreakers, just a few minutes of chat. You might find it makes the whole meeting go smoother.

If people are late, have trouble connecting, or go on mute or get quiet, don’t jump to conclusions that they are not interested or slacking off – assume positive intent. What does that mean? Well, there is a lot going on in people’s lives right now, especially during this time when your colleagues may be trying to juggle education for their kids or an anxious pet. Most people are trying to juggle a lot. If inattentiveness becomes a pattern, don’t make a huge point of it on the call, or worse, talk to their manager. Follow-up afterwards and check in with the person. It’s another opportunity to build a connection.

The moral of the story here, is now is the time to be more flexible with people. The more people feel you care about them, the more eager they will be to do their work for your project.

2. Communicate, communicate communicate!

Now is the time to over-communicate with your team. Be as transparent with your team. Remember that reporting is not communicating. It won’t be enough to send out a status report and assume that everyone reads it. If there is something that a team member or stakeholder needs to see, call it out separate from the status report. Make sure your meetings are effective with clear and published next steps. Make sure every action has an owner.

Now might be a good time to send daily, bullet-point updates to your sponsor or project stakeholders, especially if your project is at a critical point (e.g., close to a go-live). A good rule of thumb here is to communicate until someone tells you to stop. It might also be a good time for a quick 10-15-minute standup call every day to make sure your team is raising any issues as early as possible.

Finally, follow-up and follow through. Again, you never want to assume that everyone read an email or opened an attachment. It might be time to deploy the secret meaning of PM – professional mosquito.

3. Use the right tools

The third key is a good tool set. Having some type of chat mechanism is critical. Most companies provide this, but if not, you might want to look at tools like Google Hangouts, Slack, or even WhatsApp. Whatever tool you have at your disposal, use it. Reach out to people regularly and not always about work. Try to have some fun.

This might not be a good time to rely on a large project plan tool, such as MS Project, as the main communication tool for project progress. It might make more sense to whip up a quick presentation or checklist to share with your team. It might be a little more work on your part, but it could save you some headaches.

If you are using an agile methodology, low-tech might be best, I once held a sprint planning meeting by aiming my camera at a wall and using post it notes. Be creative and use what you have at hand.

If all else fails, using the good ol’ telephone might be as good as any tool. The trick is all of this is that the tool cannot over-complicate things. The simpler and intuitive the better. And don’t use email as your main tool. It’s good for creating a project record and memorializing conversations, but it’s not a good tool to drive action and make human connections.

What not to do

Above all, now is not the time to run silent and assume everyone knows you are doing a great job. Don’t let those texts or instant messages age. Be as responsive as possible. If you use the keys above, you’ll avoid this trap. Running silent can lead to isolation, detaching from your team, and worse, false assumptions that all is well (or all is terrible). Now is the time to reach out and be human. Remember, people are key, and more communication is better. Tools are good, but they cannot get in the way. Remote project management is a great way to hone your skills, get creative with what you have, and be more agile (no pun intended).