There’s a memorable meme from a while back that proclaims: “Graphic Design is My Passion.” Sarcasm aside, artistic vision is hard to come by. Trying to do it yourself can produce mixed results, and give visitors to your website or social media a bad first impression.
Hiring a professional is an easy solution, but falls outside the budget of many small businesses.
We need a fair bit of graphic design for ourselves and our clients. While I dabble a bit in the Adobe Creative Cloud, I am by no means a professional designer or artist. However, this year I started using Canva, and I’ve been surprised by its versatility.
No, this isn’t a sponsored post. I’m just so impressed by what Canva can do, I think it’s worth sharing with anyone who hasn’t already discovered it.
What Can I Design in Canva?
For the uninitiated, Canva is a simplified, all-online multimedia design studio. There are no high-end PC requirements; you can run Canva on literally any device with a web browser. That includes your phone!
Canva blends essential elements from popular software like PhotoShop, Illustrator, and PowerPoint, with a flexible and easy-to-learn interface. Right off the bat, you’ll be introduced to dozens of featured project ideas. These include Twitter posts, Instagram stories, quarterly reports, brochures, online ads, and even T-shirt designs.
Here are a few examples of designs I created in Canva:
Even if you have no idea where to start, Canva includes thousands of templates to help you get started:
- Basic animations
- Presentations / slide shows
- Static image and video posts for Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social media
- YouTube video thumbnails, slates, and channel art
- Digital ads for most major platforms
- Basic videos
- Business cards, coffee mugs, shirts, and other marketing collateral
- Large printed banners and signs
- Postcards, flyers, and posters
- Printed invitations
- Photo books
- Email newsletters
- Reports / proposals / invoices
How Much does Canva Cost?
One of Canva’s most appealing features is the cost of entry – it’s free!
You can play around in the free version of Canva as much as you like, and do quite a bit of the design work mentioned above.
Naturally, Canva locks some features and quite a bit of its vast image library behind a paywall. Still, if you’re on a tight budget, or just want to experiment before you commit, there’s a lot you can do with the free version.
There is only one premium tier, with pricing based on the number of users in your company. It starts at $12.99 per month for a single user, and $6.99 per month for each additional user. There’s a discount if you pay for a year up front.
If you like the free version of Canva, I highly recommend upgrading to Pro. It really opens up the possibilities and adds some unique features. It also lets you post directly to your social media accounts from within Canva itself, and includes 100 GB of online storage space.
What are Canva’s Limitations?
Of course, if you’re a small business, every penny counts – and you may not be able to stomach $13 per month for software you don’t use every day.
Here are some of the disadvantages to using Canva:
Too Many Choices
If I have one complaint about Canva Pro, it’s the paradox of choice. Hundreds of thousands of templates sounds great, until you start going through them to find ideas. I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by the sheer number, and give up searching.
I encounter a similar problem with Canva’s seemingly bottomless list of fonts. Sometimes, I have a very specific idea in mind for a font, but it doesn’t come up in the app’s search tool. I can try a manual search by scrolling through the font list, which helpfully displays what each font looks like, but this can take a lot of time and rarely results in finding the font I want. A premium font resource like Adobe Fonts may be a better option.
Not Enough Features for Some Jobs
As an online platform, Canva lacks the power of the heavy hitters in graphic design, like Adobe. However, it is much faster and easier to use, so I will sometimes go to Canva instead of PhotoShop if I’m in a hurry.
Speaking of PhotoShop, don’t go into Canva expecting the ability to easily recolor, retouch, or otherwise manipulate images. While Canva does a remarkable job at automatically removing backgrounds from some photographs, its coloring options leave a lot to be desired.
Canva will conveniently let you order print versions of any static design, like business cards. This convenience doesn’t come cheap, though. When we designed the business card shown above, we found a much better price for printing on another website.
Before you let Canva print your project, be sure to shop around for a better price.
Steer Clear of D.I.Y. Logos
Canva has many templates and options to help you design your own logo for your business or product.
This is a bad idea. It is always wise to invest in a professional designer for a logo.
Your logo is often the first thing the public sees about your business. An amateurish logo design can be a strong but subtle clue to a potential customer that you don’t know what you’re doing.
Bite the bullet, swallow your pride, and spend some money to have a professionally-designed logo. It’s worth every penny!
The Bottom Line
Canva is a useful tool for making quick graphic designs, and all you need is a web browser. I urge you to give it a try – it is free, after all! If you like what you see, you can always upgrade to the Pro tier for even more options and elements.