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Canva is yet another freemium online graphics tool that’s extremely simple to use and offers a mountain load of templates that can help you out. It’s supposed to be a quick and easy way to create visuals and help those unskilled in the magic of graphic design.
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The general flow of Canva is much the same as anything in its category online nowadays. You sign up (either with Google+ or an email address) and then just follow the breadcrumbs. Canva will prompt you to choose what type of graphic you’re trying to create, then be suggesting various template visuals for you.
Canva is very easy to use, even easier than Microsoft Paint.
Once you’ve chosen the layout and template you’d like, then comes the customization. Everything is drag and drop, and text can be edited much like text boxes in any other graphic design software. I’ll admit, it is very easy to use.
Here is where a slight differentiator comes in between free and paying users.
For those who are using the free version, Canva has slightly more limited templates available for you to choose from, and limit your collaborative team to 10 members. Even more importantly, it doesn’t offer you any images at all. Any images you want to use will have to be your own or licensed for you to use. It will sell you images at US$1 a piece though.
Those who opt for a paid business-class account will get a 30-member team account, plus access to what Canva claims is a database of 300,000 images. It can also help you resize your designs. Other highlights include the acceptance of custom fonts, color palettes and the ability to save templates.
Oh yes, you also get priority support.
Since Canva offers an option to design brochures, I got curious and tried that out. I was interested because printing brochures often require higher resolution files for them to turn out nicely after print. It was good to note that once I had tested the brochure template, the system offers an option to download the file as a printable PDF.
I checked with a designer friend of mine and he agreed that the brochure was simplistic (he is, after all, a designer) but definitely usable in print. This is a critical point to note for those thinking of using Canva as a business tool.
Aside from downloading copies of your finished design, you can also share them directly on Twitter or Facebook. You can also email people from within the tool to invite them for collaboration in the design of whatever you’re working on.
A few people I checked with and spoke to of Canva gave me quite an interesting perspective. One of them is a teacher and she mentioned that it’s great to use to create simple visuals to help teach the kids with. My designer friend, on the other hand, had nothing great to say about it except for one thing – that it did not consume the massive resources that Photoshop does.
On my part, for most of my professional career, I’ve been either a writer or editor and have quite a bit of experience with layouts and graphics, even if not producing them myself. Because of this, I quickly grew bored of running around in tiny circles with Canva.
Although it’s immensely easy to use, I found that for the type of output I’d require in print, it proved way too simplistic. On the other hand, it’s great for creating instant visuals, so long as you don’t mind that you’ll be sharing templates with probably thousands of other people.
I feel that this is something that would be valuable from a small business or personal standpoint, probably the former more than the latter.
Canva is great to create simple visuals. Often, it helps those unskilled in the magic of graphic design.