If you’re looking for an inexpensive program that will help you create a simple poster or flyer, Poster will meet your needs, provided you can overlook its unattractive interface. If your needs are more sophisticated, though, this bare-bones tool is likely not the one for you.
Appearance isn’t everything, but—let’s face it—looks do matter. Especially when it comes to software that’s supposed to help you create something visually appealing. That’s why I had such a hard time warming up to Poster, an $18 application designed to help you create and print posters, banners, signs, and more.
It’s not that Poster is ugly, exactly, though the graphics that bombard you when your first launch the program could be described as garish. You’re welcomed to the application with an oversized, 3D font that might have been state of the art in 1984. And you’re presented with even larger and often more colorful graphics and text pointing out various features of Poster (the opening screen changes each time you open the program). Luckily, all of these images and text disappear when you select the button at the bottom of the screen to start the program.
What’s unfortunate, though, is that Poster’s interface remains the 1980s-style design when you’re using the program. From the grim, gray background, to the wizard that guides you through the process of designing your poster and the icons used to edit, save, and print, everything about Poster simply seems ated.
Poster is easy enough to use, though, even for a graphic design newbies. To get started, you choose the size of your poster; standard size posters can be printed on your own printer, while custom sized files can be saved as a PDF for printing on a capable commercial printer. (The free trial version lets you print 10 standard sized posters, but does not allow you to create anything larger or save your files as a PDF.) You also choose the orientation of the paper and a template. You can start with a blank page, or a template that incorporates photos and/or columns of text.
Using the blank page, I quickly crafted a poster using text and images. Poster claims it can help you create a basic poster in less than 60 seconds, and that might actually be true —if you’re keeping things simple of course. If you’re looking for anything beyond the bare basics, Poster can get a bit confusing. It lacks the fine-tuned elegance that Microsoft Publisher offers, especially when it comes to placing photos and text. Publisher makes it easy to create text fields and insert images; by default, Poster acts more like a Word processor, which can cause your text to look off-kilter. I did find a feature that allowed me to insert a text field, but I stumbled across it by accident after selecting one of Poster’s icons that I was unable to identify. I also found it harder than it should be to change the color and size of the text—a task that wasn’t made easier by Poster’s odd text size range, which starts at 0.15 and goes to 1.50.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive program that will help you create a simple poster or flyer, Poster will meet your needs, provided you can overlook its unattractive interface. If your needs are more sophisticated, though, Poster Designer might be a better fit for you.
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Liane Cassavoy is a veteran technology and business journalist. She contributes regularly to PCWorld and has written about business issues and products for Entrepreneur Magazine and other publications. She is the author of two business start-up guides published by Entrepreneur Press.