Canva: The Graphic Design Tool for Non-Designers

If you work on the web in any capacity, there will come a time when you wish you had graphic design skills.  If you’re not a designer by trade or at heart, Canva has you covered.

Launched out of Sydney, Australia in August 2013 with $3 million in seed funding, Canva has become a favorite of many bloggers and others who are not professional designers.  While still in beta, Canva boasts 300,00+ users and thousands of designs created daily.

I discovered Canva when Guy Kawasaki tweeted about a webinar he was doing all about this new graphic design tool.  As it turns out, Kawasaki joined Canva’s team as Chief Evangelist in April.  He’s doing a wonderful job evangelizing, because I’m hooked.

This is a simple Facebook banner I created for the CNY Bloggers group, my first Canva design.

What Can Canva Do?

Want to create some graphics for your blog?  How about a Facebook cover, Twitter Header or Pinterest Image?  Canva has the precise sizes and lets you easily create designs that will fit your needs on each of those social networks.

Blog graphics come in many sizes, and Canva lets you choose a custom size, in pixels, millimeters or inches.

Canva also lets you create posters, business cards, presentations and almost anything you can come up with that needs a design element.

Is it Easy to Use?

Canva employees like to say that the tool ‘democratizes design’ and I would have to agree.  I am by no means a designer, but Canva makes it easy to search for and try different layouts, fonts, and color combinations.  Don’t like an element you chose?Delete it and choose another.

Canva has a vast catalog of images to choose from on-site, or you can upload you own images.  Or better yet, combine images you find on Canva with images of your own for a custom feel.

When you’re ready to share or publish your design, Canva lets you publish it as an image or a PDF.  You can also share a link to your creation with collaborators or clients, which makes things so much easier than going back and forth via email.

What Does Canva Cost?

Canva is free to use, but they do have premium images available for $1 each.  They make it easy to pre-purchase any number of premium images at $1 each, and then let you know how many you have remaining, every time you publish a new design.

Canva designs are for one-time use only, unlike when you purchase an image from stock photo galleries.  You do have 24 hours

Create images for your Facebook posts and get noticed in the Newsfeed.
Create images for your Facebook posts and get noticed in the Newsfeed.

to edit your design after purchase, after which you will be charged another $1 fee to use the same premium image.

What if I’m a designer?

If you’re a designer, Canva is great for you too! While this is not a replacement for Photoshop or InDesign, Canva will allow you to easily create simple designs, while saving time and money.

Better yet, Canva works with artists to include their designs on Canva and pays royalties every time someone uses your design.  To find out more about this feature, visit the designers page.

Other Cool Features

For people like me who are design-challenged, the design tutorials Canva offers are really helpful.  Not just about how to use Canva, but on different design topics like ‘Color Scheme Basics’ and ‘Choosing Fonts’, these tutorials will help you to become at least a little more design savvy, with very little effort.

Editor’s Picks feature designs created by other Canva users, that you can use simply for inspiration, or to deconstruct the elements and put your own spin on them.  I find this very useful to see how other users are putting together their designs

Canva recently introduced a new suite of photo editing tools including (everyone’s favorite) filters.  They even share how to recreate the look of your favorite brands’ photo filters.  Again, there is lots of help available for the novice, and everything is extremely intuitive.

I’m a big fan of Canva and I think you will be too.  I’ve got five invitations waiting, so tweet me and let me know you want in and I’ll share.  If you’re already creating designs on Canva, I’d love to see what you’re working on and if you have any tips or tricks to share; leave them in the comments and help us all be better designers!


Kelly Lux

Kelly is the former Executive Editor of Information Space. Kelly currently teaches courses on Social Media, Online Community Management, and Content Strategy and Application, and she is currently the Assistant Director of the Communications@Syracuse program.

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