TL;DR

How: With beautiful templates, you'll never be caught with fugly designs.

Canva: A Free Web-Based Design Software That Helps You Make Your Brand More Aesthetic

Now you can have free and good designs.

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researchers found that a whopping 94% of respondents cited poor design as the reason for rejecting or distrust a website. One of the participants even cited boring colours as a reason for distrust.

Eye-catching designs are what make people do a double take, and that double take does more for your business than you may imagine. Among many things, good design helps you stand out from the crowd, leaves a strong first impression and keeps your business on people’s minds.

More importantly, it helps you win people’s trust and improve sales.

In a study named “Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites”, researchers found that a whopping 94% of respondents cited poor design as the reason for rejecting or distrust a website. One of the participants even cited boring colours as a reason for distrust.

Another study conducted by The Design Council found that of the 63 portfolios of companies that they tracked over a decade, companies that prioritise design outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200%. Researchers also noticed that “every £100 a design alert business spends on design increases turnover by £225”.

companies that prioritise design outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200%.

The Design Council FTSE 100 index Companies
Companies that prioritise designs did 200% better than those that didn’t. Image Credits: The Design Council

So good design can translate into profits too. But what if you’re not good with design, yet too cash-strapped to employ a designer, especially for your graphics needs?

Canva: A free web-based design software for design and Adobe idiots

You can now design your own business cards, marketing collaterals, social media graphics and more, even if you know nothing about good design.

Canva takes the pain out of the design process by providing professional-looking layouts, stock images, fonts, icons, shapes and filters in a simple drag-and-drop web interface. Best of all, the free version is enough to meet any basic design needs.

Best of all, the free version is enough to meet any basic design needs.

Simple, straightforward interface

Canva’s mission to simplify the design process is well-reflected in the design of its interface. Instead of bombarding users with hundreds of mysterious icons, Canva shows you just enough buttons and options at every stage of your design process.

As long as you’re not too picky, creating your own design is as simple as picking a layout, changing the background image, formatting the words, typing in some content, adding some icons and moving things around.

You don’t even have to worry about the dimensions since your chosen layout would’ve already taken care of it for you. This means that there’s no need to search for or remember all the optimal image sizes across all platforms and media (hurray!).

As long as you’re not too picky, creating your own design is as simple as picking a layout, changing the background image, formatting the words, typing in some content, adding some icons and moving things around.

When I have a clear idea of how I want my design to look, I typically take less than five minutes from start to finish. For our weekly Monday Motivation posts on SBO’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages, it takes me less than a minute to get them done. Being an Adobe dummy, putting together a similar design would probably take me hours.

Use content from other sources

There’s also the option of embedding images, videos or music from online sources (which I suppose is most useful for presentations), including from your own Facebook and Instagram account.

Limited capabilities

Canva’s simplicity is also its downside. Apart from simple formatting and editing options, such as font colour, text alignment, crop and flip, it doesn’t accommodate designs and workflow that are slightly more complicated, such as cropping to shape, adjusting guides down to the pixel and applying layer effects (shadows, glow or blur, just to name a few). Then again, if you really need those features, you’re not really Canva’s target audience.

If I have to be self-entitled and complain about what I’m already getting for free, it’s that I cannot change the resolution of my design mid-way.

If I have to be self-entitled and complain about what I’m already getting for free, it’s that I cannot change the resolution of my design mid-way. Duplicating the design also doesn’t help. This means that if I need to optimise the same design across different media, I’ll have to start from scratch. This hurdle is probably intentionally set up to push you to their

Canva for Work

But if you’re willing to pay at least US$9.95 per month for Canva for Work, you’ll get Magic Resize, a button that generates your graphic in various sizes in one click. In my mind, Magic Resize means that the design elements would be rearranged and resized to each selected resolution. However, Magic Resize didn’t live up to my expectation. It just duplicates the content onto the resolutions that you select. No rearrangement, no resizing. It’s a great feature if you need to generate designs of several resolutions quickly, just that it’s not magical.

I had a Canva for Work plan for a year but didn’t think that it was worth it. The free account was enough to meet my simple design needs.

Another interesting feature that the premium plan makes available is Animation Pro. It animates your design and turns it into a gif or mp4 file. There are seven animation styles available, but you don’t get to customise each style.

The plan also unlocks unlimited folders and storage, brand kit, custom fonts, access to 1.5 million free photos and illustrations, and transparent background.

I had a Canva for Work plan for a year but didn’t think that it was worth it. The free account was enough to meet my simple design needs.

Learn more about Canva and design

Canva has also made it really easy to learn how to maximise the potential of its tools and the principles behind great designs to help you create stunning visuals.

Besides videos on how to use Canva, there are interactive tutorials that you can follow along. And in case you’re not design trained, there are structured courses with multiple lessons to ease you into the design groove.

Verdict

What Canva did revolutionalise is the workflow.

In terms of functionality, Canva offers nothing revolutionary that competing software can’t do. What Canva did revolutionalise is the workflow. It took the complexity out of design and make great design accessible to everyone. Designing (especially for design idiots like myself) is less dreadful and more fun now. Each time I complete a design work, I feel like I’m ready to launch my design career.

As for Canva for Work, it’ll be worth it if you need to churn out lots of visuals quickly in multiple resolutions. The other premium features are either not groundbreaking enough or can be easily substituted by alternative tools and sources.

Regardless, thanks for making the world a more beautiful place, Canva.


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I'd rather write how-to guides and stories than about myself, unless absolutely necessary. Also, ironically, I hardly write with a pen and paper.
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