Mastering the new Brackify creation tools

I’ve been following the rise of Brackify for a while, and early signs suggest that 2017 may well be the year of the bracket!

For those of you who don’t know, Brackify is a web based tool for creating interactive voting brackets that you can then share, embed, and make money from. And they aren’t limited to college hoops or even sports. Whether it’s Billboard asking who has the best Fans, answering once and for all which is our favorite Star Wars character, or deciding on a name for your pet, Brackify accommodates them all.

Getting Started

All it takes is an idea. And the best ideas are rooted in your passions. So take a few minutes to find your jam. Wild about dogs? Glued to HGTV and Food Network? There are no wrong answers here.

I’m going to use a topic close to my heart, the FX TV show: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia!

Once you register, you can begin making your bracket. Enter a title, and pick how many things you want your bracket to contain. The options ensure a perfectly balanced, true bracket. I’m going with 8 to focus on the central characters in the show.

Browsing the popular brackets on https://brackify.com/ is a good way to see how best to title your bracket

Next you get to choose your bracket type. You have two options:

  • The Complete bracket allows users to fill out a bracket from beginning to end. There are no round restrictions. The user is given the ability to select their winner the first time visiting the bracket. The complete bracket has a set start and end date. Throughout the duration of the bracket, matchup results are determined and the winner is featured.
  • The Round by Round bracket sets start and end times for each round. The user can only vote within the round that is currently active. This bracket is a great way to get return users and allows for more active promotion.

Fill out the rest of the basic bracket info, and advance to the Entries tab.

Adding your entries

The entries are the things you’re voting between — the subject of your bracket. At a minimum each entry needs a photo and a title. Note down the entries you want, and do a google image search for each. Alternatively, Pexels provides free stock photos, is easy to use and great looking.

The 8 entries for my Always Sunny Bracket

Getting good images: Focus on getting images that are at least 300 x 300px, free from distractions, and ensure that they work well together visually. You don’t want to bias your voters by making them subconsciously just pick the better photo.

Preparing your images: I put together a Sketch Template to make organizing, sizing and exporting the images you gather easy. As I collect the images for my entries, I save them off into a folder to keep them together. Then I drag the images over one by one to the sketch file, resizing and centering them to make the most of the square templates.

Prepared images in the sketch template ready for exporting

Once exported, you can go through your entries in Brackify one by one, enter the titles and drag in your prepared photos for each.

Fill out the info for each entry and drag in your photos. The more detailed the entries — including descriptions and links — the better it will be for folks filling out the bracket

With the entries completed, you can start organizing them into matchups within the bracket. The Key on the right hand side helps you orient your matchups to make sure your bracket is balanced (you don’t want all your best entries facing up in the first round!).

Make sure your matchups in round 1 spread out the big hitters to avoid early upsets!

Additional creatives

If you’re using the Sketch template, you’ll notice there are 3 other (optional) images.

  • A main image
  • A Facebook share image
  • A Twitter share image

For the share images, you should follow regular share image guidelines. If sharing is important to your bracket it’s worth spending some time to make them shine on people’s social timelines.

The main image is a chance to set the scene for your bracket. Your title, subtitle and description will overlay the main image, so don’t make it too busy and don’t include text in the image that will look weird if obscured or clash with the overlays.

For my Always Sunny bracket, I wanted to use a photo that would be instantly recognizable to fans of the show. I pulled a photo of Paddy’s Pub, and added a gradient overlay and slight blur.

Editing my choice for the main image — setting the scene and letting the overlaid text “pop”

Busier backgrounds can be used effectively with customizations made to the overlaid text, and again, browsing the popular brackets on brackify.com is a good way to get some inspiration.

A strong main image can take your bracket to the next level, making it a force to be reckoned with

Styling your bracket

Finally, you can tailor your bracket using the Style & Fonts section. By changing fonts, colors and title positioning, you can make your bracket fit the entries and subject of the bracket perfectly.

Simple customization options combine to create some beautiful tailored brackets
Color and typography inspiration

With my simple main image as a backdrop, I did some more image searches for the show to get a sense of any styles and colors that I might be able to use to make the bracket feel more tailored.

Two things stood out — the font used in the title cards for each episode, and the bright yellow color used in marketing material for the show.

Armed with these sources of inspiration, I was able to switch to the Styles and Fonts tab, and play with different variations to get the look I wanted. Using the Bracket Preview is a good way to see how the styles work together. If you’re having trouble coming up with colors, Pictaculous is an excellent resource for automatically producing a color scheme based on a photo — perhaps your main image, for example.

Using the type and color inspiration to customize the style of the overlaid text

The finished Bracket

With the styles and images in place, it is time to preview it. With a few adjustments to the styles and colors, and a strong main image, the bracket feels great and I’m ready to publish. Now the fun really begins as the votes roll in and the winner rises to the top!

Tailored to my bracket and looking sharp

You can see the bracket in action over on Brackify: The Always Sunny Bracket, and a glimpse of my picks below:

Now the fun begins. I know my favorite, but who will come out on top?!

Let me know if you make any brackets or have any ideas for a good one — I’d love to vote and see what you create!