A quick guide to Canva

While it’s widely understood that the best things in life don’t come easily, most of us would rather do things in the easiest and most straightforward way possible. It’s for this reason that web-based design tools like Canva have caught on, offering a simple approach to graphic design. But how effective is this tool and could it, and Google's Flourish, replace your graphic designer long term? 

By Carla Stanton, graphic designer at Stone Junction.

Canva was launched in summer 2013 and has since become popular with small business owners and marketers. There is an array of pre-made templates, tutorials and ideas available to use on the free, drag-and-drop website tool. If you don’t have a budget for an internal graphic designer or design agency, or you’re just experimenting with graphic design, Canva can help you create inexpensive design from a browser.

Content marketing relies heavily on images to convey a message and evoke emotion, so it is important to have some visual strategy. This is typically the role of graphic designers and design consultants, as there are some basic rules and principals for design that should be understood to deliver the best results. 

This is arguably one of the shortfalls of these web tools. If you are not a skilled designer and don’t understand these principles, the outcome will often look jarring or not achieve the intended result from marketing material. However, Canva is suitable for creating simple images for social media and self-hosted blog posts. 

Once you have signed up and logged in to the free version of Canva, you can select what you want to create from an existing template. Then simply drag and drop elements within your canvas and change fonts and colours to fit your branding. 

Extra images are also available, along with sets of icons and shapes that can be dragged into your canvas if you want to add infographic-style elements. You can then save and export your work as a JPEG, PNG or PDF.

One of the main disadvantages of using Canva instead of a graphic designer is that your designs can easily end up looking identical, as these templates are so easy to use it is a very popular shortcut for everyday designs. 

In addition, unless you pay a subscription for Canva for Work or Canva Enterprise, you are unable to resize your work, import specific fonts or export GIFs. The tool is also not suited to design things such as unique logos because there will be no value in your design if it is a repeat of someone else’s. Individual, creative and flexible design will only come from a skilled designer with the knowledge and creative thinking to make something unique for your brand.

While Canva can’t replace the need for a great graphic designer, it can save some time if you need some social media graphics or an artistic-looking pull out quote for a blog post. If you can afford a designer or are looking for some advice, you can contact me on +44 (0)1785 225 416 or e-mail carlas@stonejunction.co.uk.

Carla Stanton

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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