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February 8, 2020

4 Considerations When Selecting Free or Low-Cost Apps

We’ve all had this happen …

You purchase a software package and once you start using it, you discover it doesn’t do what you need or it is so complicated you end up going around in circles trying to figure out how do what you want to do.

In the end, you feel like you wasted money and time. Worse, what you needed to do still isn’t done.

In an effort to save money, many of us turn to free or low-cost apps.

But… this doesn’t come without risks either.

It isn’t uncommon to have to go through several free apps to find the one that does what you need to do.

When considering a free or low-cost app, there four things you need to take into account.


Creating a quality design, whether a slide deck, image, or handout, takes time. When you need to create something quickly, opt for an application that has an easy and intuitive user interface. You will save time when it’s obvious what button to click. Another time saver is templates. If the app has a large library of templates, it makes the creation process quicker and easier.

Previous Experience

If you are brand new to creating designs, chose an app with less features as it will be easier to use and give you a sense of how to construct what you are designing. If you are well versed in one app, it will be easier to learn another. However, sometimes frustrating as each app uses different menus and terminology. Those new to video editing will have a bigger learning curve. Apps that have some automation will help you become familiar with this editing process.

Editing Needs

This is an important consideration. Free and low-cost apps tend to have fewer editing features or limited access to content like images or templates. Think about the types of designs you want to create and how much flexibility you want to add your own unique style. The more you want to create on your own, the more advanced features you will want.

Platform / Operating System (OS)

Here you want to think about where or on what you will be doing your editing. Smaller screens, like a smart phone, can make editing more challenging. While many apps are web-based and can be used on a phone or tablet, some require installation on a laptop. If you do your work across multiple platforms and operating systems, it is best to choose an app that is compatible with all of them.


In the long run, you want to select apps that complement each other or select an app that can create multiple types of content. This may mean spending a bit more on one app but saves you time because of the cross-compatibility with your other software or platforms.

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Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. She has 20+ years of experience public speaking and helping others. She draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help new, holistic female coaches master virtual presentations and gain more clients. Her unique immersive program helps her students gain confidence, present engaging content, and tame the tech in 12 weeks (or less).

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