PIKTOCHART: A tool critique

This week marks the fourth week of my third (and final) term of library school… how that happened, I have no clue.  This semester, I’ve found myself taking a few classes that fall outside my usual disciplines and areas of comfort – especially introduction to archives admin, information literacy, and digital humanities (I’m a social sciences grad, after all!).

Now, if you were to ask me what each of the above entails, I’m confident I would be able to provide you with a concrete answer about archives and information literacy.  Digital humanities, on the other hand, remains a concept that I’m still trying to fully grasp an understanding of (perhaps not the best thing to admit four weeks into the course) …

While there is an abundance of literature out there that will provide me (and you) with many definitions of digital humanities scholarship, and all it encompasses, I’m finding that the concept of DH is slowly but surely becoming less murky the more I investigate and learn about the different kinds of tools that DH scholars use to marry humanities disciplines with online technologies.

Though websites such as Dirt Directory can provide you with a great number of DH tools, there is one tool in particular that I’d like to share with (and one that isn’t mentioned by Dirt Directory).  Enter Piktochart. Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.27.26 PM

Piktochart is a tool that I serendipitously discovered last semester while on the hunt for a program that would help me create a pathfinder for my children’s materials class.  After discovering Piktochart, I’ve used it as much as I can to help me create handouts, posters, or pathfinders.  However, it was only until I started to understand what digital humanities is that I realized I may have at my finger tips a tool for helping scholars (and librarians) to propel humanities fields into new technological terrains.

Okay, enough blabbing… read below to find out more about Piktochart.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.41.16 PM

What is its purpose?

According to its website, Piktochart is an “easy-to-use infographic creator” that allows you to “discover how non-designers are creating beautiful infographics in as little as 10 minutes” (however, if you’re like me, it’ll take you a little longer than 10 minutes).   With the help of Piktochart, you can create infographs, reports, banners, or presentations either from scratch or from pre-made, customizable templates.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.40.45 PMPiktochart allows users to create their own infographics for free (limited options) or to unlock the full potential of Piktochart by “leveling up” to a lite ($15/month) or pro account ($29/month).

A free account provides users with:

  • Over 400 templates, icons and graphics to choose from (plus the option to upload your own images)
  •  Unlimited customization, so your infographic will be unique
  •  Publishing tools, so you can publish and share online (e.g., Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, e-mail, etc.) or download it and print it out

Piktochart in a nutshell…

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.43.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.43.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.44.00 PMPros

  • Free accounts available
  • Lifetime access and editing privileges
  • Customizable templates, images and graphics
  • Provides users with how-to video support
  • Intuitive interface
  • Survey Monkey results can be imported
  • Easy to publish and share online with others (you can e-mail your Piktochart’s web link out; post it on any of your social media accounts; link it to your blog; or even download it as an image (convert to .pdf) and then upload it to your blog or website, etc., etc.)


  •  Must upgrade to a lite or pro account to access certain templates, increase your storage, upload more than 40 mbs of images, or download a higher quality version of your Piktochart
  •  Can only download your Piktochart as a .png or .jpg if you do not have a paid account (this makes it difficult to print or convert to a .pdf file that is large enough so your audience can clearly read your Piktochart)
  •  Anyone can view your Piktochart once published (privacy increases when you upgrade your account)
  •  Can be time-consuming if you do not have a strong eye for design
  •  Great to present information, but may not be as interactive as other DH tools (e.g., does not really allow for collaboration in the actual creation of infographics – the collaboration comes with the sharing of them instead)

Who is its intended audience?

The wonderful thing about Piktochart is that it’s intended audience is just about anyone – anyone who is a “non-designer” and who has the need to share information with an audience via graphics and creativity.  A quick scan of featured Piktocharts reveals that no topic is off limits; sample Piktocharts run the gamut from explaining the cardiovascular system to chronicling the science of storytelling to celebrating International Day of Happiness to telling the history of Easter.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.34.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.34.46 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.37.47 PM

Basically, if you are a scholar, a teacher, a student or an employee who has to present and disseminate an informational concept digitally or in print, Piktochart is for you.  If you have an information need that you wish to present in a visual and creative form, Piktochart is for you.  Even if you’re just a kid who wants to make a Mother’s Day card or a Christmas list, Piktochart is for you.

Who else might use it?

Other potential users could include:

  • Researchers
  • Scholars
  • Businesses
  • Teachers and professors (elementary all the way to post-secondary)
  • Students (elementary all the way to post-secondary)
  • Marketing departments
  • Report writers
  • Librarians
  • Digital Humanities scholars

While it is quite clear that there is no limit to Piktochart’s intended audience, I think that librarians and DH scholars can definitely benefit from a tool that allows information to be simplified and explained in an accessible, appealing and digital manner.  For example, the Health Sciences Library at the London Health Sciences Centre has used Piktochart to make their annual report more engaging.  I’ve used Piktochart in my academic libraries class to explain and promote the benefits of Open Access to reluctant faculty members.

Researchers or scholars can use Piktochart to help them succinctly organize their information, or to present a paper or current research at conferences.  Also, Piktochart has quite recently released a Survey Monkey feature, that allows anyone with a Survey Monkey account to import the results of surveys, so that it can be presented in chart/graphic form!

Why would humanities scholars and librarians find it useful to know about Piktochart?

While the possibilities offered by Piktochart for any discipline are endless, humanities scholars and librarians can both be huge beneficiaries of Piktochart’s services.  Given that the humanities is a typically text-driven discipline, being able to present information in a graphic form and online will help to reach a greater audience, as it may be more intriguing to present information in pictorial form or easier to disseminate information online.

One interesting feature of Piktochart that may appeal to humanities scholars with a geographical component to their research is the interactive maps feature that allows you to present information using map template.

Similarly, Librarians may find it useful to know about the existence of Piktochart, as they can use this digital tool to add engaging pathfinders, LibGuides, or instructional information to their websites.  For instance, public librarians can use this tool to create an engaging pathfinder for patrons who like James Patterson novels, who are interested in diverse children’s materials and wordless picture books, or who are looking for non-fiction materials on food systems.  Academic librarians can use Piktochart to make bibliographic instruction more engaging, or to help students and scholars present information in a succinct, meaningful or concise way (e.g., in the form of handouts, report summaries, or even presentations).

Over all, Piktochart is helpful for librarians to know about as it not only provides them with another tool in which they can make information more engaging and easily disseminated, but they can now offer students and scholars another way in which to digitally create, formulate and present information.

Oh, the possibilities!

So, regardless of the above challenges presented by Piktochart, I definitely believe it is a tool that all librarians and humanities scholars should have in their DH tool box.

Let me know what you think! Yay or nay to Piktochart?

– K


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