I discovered the graphic design platform Canva.com late last year and thought it would be a great way to kick-off my recommended tools series.

I was first introduced to the magic of Canva.com after reading Kevan Lee’s excellent post about social media images. At the time, the recommended pixel sizes for social media headers were forever changing, and it was frustrating having to source and confirm the correct optimal size for each.

Immediately I could see Canva.com solved this problem as they provide the header templates for all of the social networks. However, it has A LOT more to offer and has become a regular tool for me despite my experience with Photoshop.

What is Canva

Canva is a graphic design platform with a user-friendly drag and drop interface with a ton of features, and you don’t have to be a designer or Photoshop expert to achieve great results. Primarily a desktop application but there is also an app for the iPad.

The service is FREE for the core features, it’s free to upload your images, hundreds of FREE design elements and just $1 a download if you want to use Canva’s library of professional stock images, icons, and illustrations.

Key Features

  • Online and FREE to use
  • Search and drag simplicity
  • Powerful Photo Editor
  • Layouts, Templates and Backgrounds
  • Library of over 1m Images
  • 100s of Fonts
  • 1000s Icons and Illustrations
  • Collaboration with colleagues

Design Templates

Where to start, you can pretty much create anything you need, choose from Canva’s pre-designed templates or a custom dimension and download it in .png or high-quality PDF. I’m a regular user of Canva’s social media posts/headers and love not having to worry about optimal dimensions for each platform.

A list of available templates below, if you want to see what other Canva users are designing, sign in and head over to Canva’s design stream to get some inspiration.

  • Social Media Posts and Headers (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest)
  • Marketing Materials (Flyers, Posters, Menu’s, Business Cards, Gift Certificates)
  • Documents (Presentations, Letterheads)
  • Blogging (Headers, Infographics, Covers)
  • Events (Invitations, Postcards)
  • Ads (IAB approved)

Images, Icons and Illustrations

I recall working in Photoshop, switching from window to window, folder to folder dropping in images or worse having to source a basic element and cut it out. I’m also amazed at how much stock imagery cost these days.

This is why I love the left panel in the Canva interface. Search over 1 million images without leaving the design space, many are free, others just a $1. A comprehensive collection of Icons, Photo’s, Grids, Shapes, Frames, Illustrations and Charts at your fingertips.

Canva.com Interface

Canva for Work

If you are a business, you may also appreciate Canva’s new “For Work” product, subscription based this provides more team functionality and collaboration. It also provides a central store for company images, templates and presentations. For Work also delivers some excellent features such as Magic re-size and my personal favourite brand kits, as you can see in the video below it solves a big headache.

Summary

There is a huge demand now to engage your audience with visual content. Canva is an excellent free tool that makes design simple; no longer should your creativity be limited by Photoshop expertise or be at the mercy of your designers schedule. I love its simplicity; it’s intuitive, has an extensive library, and it’s core features are free.

Individuals, Start-ups and small businesses should certainly be making use of the platform
Individuals, Start-ups and small businesses should certainly be making use of the platform, employee’s and larger companies can also benefit from collaboration and brand continuity across the company. Experienced designers may find some inspiration, shortcuts and could benefit from a lower volume of minor design requests from co-workers, enabling them to focus on more intricate tasks.

Have you tried Canva yet? Let me know any thoughts or feedback below. If you found this article useful, a share would be much appreciated.

Disclaimer:– I am not affiliated with this tool, service or business, nor is this a paid or guest post. My posts are not commercially influenced, and all opinions are my own.

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