We first reported on Lucid Software three years ago and even then we marked out the company and its approach as something special. “All in all this is one superb drawing and charting app, and deserves to carve a significant chunk out of the market.” Well fast forward to today and they’ve gone and done it again, with another superb web application which fills a real need and competes aggressively against an expensive big league incumbent.
We love and continue to use LucidChart because of its speed, convenience and full feature set, all of which is free unless you need to do something extra sophisticated, at which point you are politely invited to sign up to a very reasonably priced paid version starting at just over $3 a month. The result is we keep returning to the app every so often for quick and dirty requirements such as sketching out a web page layout or something similar. It’s easy and crucially, very fast.
The new LucidPress promises the same kind of ease of use and speed for more demanding needs, specifically page and publication layout and design, hitherto the domain of products like Adobe’s InDesign. The beautiful thing about this new app is how easy they have made it to collaborate and share your productions, no fiddling around with sharing by email, just invite people along to the party and everyone can share in the creation process as it happens.
Getting started is easy, just sign in and hit the Create button. You’re immediately presented with a set of template options, ranging from flyers, newsletters and presentations to product spec sheets and more. You can, of course, always ignore their quick start offerings and create your own custom template from a blank sheet. Once you’ve selected a baseline, you then go ahead and edit it, and you’ll enjoy just about every tool you need to create incredibly sophisticated results both for the web and for print.
The layout tools are a cinch to use, you can add interactive elements like videos for online publications for your website, and you have complete control over layers, typography, layout controls and more. It’s really powerful and yet easy to use, and anyone should be able to pick it up in a matter of moments. As with LucidChart there’s no lag or stuttering in use, it’s fast and flawless, just like working on a desktop application, only with the benefit of online ‘edit anywhere’ functionality. Think InDesign allied with Google Docs.
Once you’ve finished, and your team has given the OK and added their hugely valuable contributions (!), you can then decide how you want to treat the document, whether to print, download or create an embed link for a website. The major thing which is missing is the kind of full on CMYK print export file options which you get with the really professional products such as Adobe InDesign, so this will probably not be suitable if you need to regularly produce that level of output to give to your offset printing house.
But for most small businesses, the range of print and publish options on offer should be more than enough for day to day use, especially since you can receive a high resolution PDF output ready for your color laser printer or similar. The fact that the application is so easy to learn and use will undoubtedly encourage more small companies to try their own hand at designing in-house marketing and sales materials, which is either a good thing or a disaster depending on which side of the room you sit. We think it’s good.
Overall, this is yet another excellent offering from the team at Lucid, and one which will definitely cement their claim to be the premiere company offering top quality free and low cost alternatives to the expensive proprietary market leaders. First Microsoft, now Adobe, we’re fascinated to see what they try next. Recommended.