Canva is an online graphic design tool that millions of creatives and small business owners love mainly because of its intuitive and user-friendly interface. As of October 2022, Canva had over 100 million active monthly users in more than 190 countries, and they're still growing.
This Canva review explores why Canva is so popular with the online design community and shows you how to get started with Canva.
Even though it is popular, many people still need to learn how to get the best out of Canva. Understanding a design platform for a non-designer is critical to ensuring the platform's long-term success. When it comes to design tools, user success equates to platform longevity.
What is Canva?
Canva is an online graphic design software mainly used by non-professional graphic designers to create digital designs, helpful in online marketing.
Common examples of designs you can start with Canva include infographics for social media posts and websites, flyers, business cards, etc. Canva is used primarily for graphics creation for online use.
If your workflow mainly involves photo or video editing, Canva might not be your best option. You will better go for other online photo editing tools like PicMonkey.
Canvas's strength is mainly in designing social media images, combining text and imagery, symbols, and logos to create a single graphic element that can be shared online or printed.
Related Content: PicMonkey vs Canva
Common Use Cases for Using Canva
Many people choose Canva over other online design tools because of its simple interface and the hundreds of thousands of templates they can choose from. Let's review some of the typical projects that people use Canva for.
1. Creating social media cover photos
Your cover photo and profile picture are the first things your clients or customers will see when they check out your Twitter or Facebook profile.
If you want an appealing cover photo for your Twitter or Facebook account, Canva has thousands of well-designed templates and royalty-free images that you can find in the Canva library to create fantastic designs.
These templates are professionally designed with the exact dimensions these social media platforms recommend.
Since the aspect of the aspect ratio of the templates is already pre-determine, you won't have to resize the images before publishing them.
Using templates with the correct aspect ratio ensures that all the elements you add to the cover photo design are visible.
2. YouTube thumbnails
A YouTube thumbnail is the first thing potential viewers will see before deciding to click on the video.
Creating an attractive thumbnail for your YouTube videos can significantly improve your channel's viewership. Canva has multiple templates designed explicitly for YouTube thumbnails.
According to Dochipo, 90% of the best-performing YouTube videos use custom thumbnails. Hmmm.
Using these templates will save a lot of time you would have wasted trying to create the perfect size thumbnail. They also contain the common elements that most YouTubers add to their thumbnails; you have to customize them based on your brand's identity and the message in the video you publish.
3. Instagram stories
Instagram stories are viewed by over 500 million users every day. If you want to improve the engagement and following of your brand on Instagram, leveraging stories is one of the strategies you should use.
Canva has thousands of Instagram story templates that you can use to create appealing stories that can trigger your followers to take action, such as leaving a direct message or sharing it.
4. Photo collages
If you take multiple photos of different people or products, you can quickly bring them together as a collage that can be shared on social media posts or your website.
For instance, if you host an event and take several photos of the attendants, grouping them into a collage that can be shared could be better than sharing multiple images.
Canva has hundreds of collage templates that you can use to create different photo layouts. Some of these templates come with placeholder photos that you have to replace with your photos.
5. Infographics for social media or blogs
If you want to share a quote or statistic on your Instagram or Facebook, using an infographic is one of the most effective ways.
Platforms like Facebook give photos, including infographics, more visibility than plain text. So, quotes and statistics will perform better on these platforms if presented in infographics than in simple text.
Canva has thousands of templates that you can use to create infographics for different platforms. Depending on the platform you intend to post, these templates are professionally designed and resized in the recommended aspect ratio.
Brochures are a great way to compact a lot of information into a small space. One of the everyday use cases for brochures is creating highlights of the products and services your sell.
These brochures can either be printed or shared online. Canva comes with professionally designed brochure templates that you can customize to create a brochure with a layout and design of your choice.
Professional tools such as Adobe InDesign can create appealing digital resumes to present to a potential employer. However, using Canva is the easiest way to create a well-designed resume, thanks to the many resume templates that are available to choose from.
Many of these templates are available in the free version, so you don't need to subscribe to the Pro version to get them.
These templates come with all the common elements of a resume; you have to replace them with your personal information.
Most people still use traditional tools like PowerPoint and Google Slides to create presentations. However, design tools like Canva can offer quite a bit if you want to create visually appealing presentations.
Canva has thousands of well-designed presentation templates you can edit to create stunning presentations.
Creating a visually appealing newsletter will significantly improve your marketing campaign's engagement and ROI. Small businesses share relevant and valuable information with their network of customers, prospects, and subscribers using a newsletter.
Visually appealing newsletters you can send to your target audience via email or any other relevant digital platform are created using Canva, thanks to its rich library of newsletter templates.
10. Business cards
Business owners still use business cards to share their contact details with prospects. Besides contact details, a business card may also include referencable information.
You can create stunning business cards faster using any business card template in Canva.
Many other use cases exist for why a designer or non-designer would want to use Canva. Far too many to mention in a single article. It's safe to say, Canva is a Swiss army knife for online creations.
How to Get Started with Canva
Canva has mobile apps (for iOS and Android), desktop apps (Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS), and a web application for desktop users.
You start with Canva by downloading the app or using your computer browser to access Canva's web application. Like any other online platform, you must create an account before using Canva.
Creating an account on Canva is simple; you only need an active email address and a password. Canva lets you create an account using Google or Facebook.
However, making your account using your email address is always best to avoid relying on another third-party platform whenever you want to sign in to your Canva account.
After successfully creating the account, you will be redirected to Canvas's central dashboard, which has all the tools you need to start your design project.
Your free Canva account will have most of the essential tools required to create basic digital designs. However, you will need a pro account if you want to access all the features in Canva.
Starting with the free version is what we recommend, more so if you are new to this platform.
There are many valid reasons for upgrading, which we outline in this Canva review, but the free version gives you time to ensure Canva is the right design tool for you.
If you find yourself in a position where the template you want to use is unavailable for the free plan, then subscribing to the Pro or Teams plan is the right move.
Creating Your First Canva Project
This Canva review instructs how to create your first project in Canva. So let's dive straight in. We've outlined the typical steps you will go through to create a unique design using Canva.
The procedure is the same whether you use a standalone or web app.
Step 1: Choose your design type
When you click the “Create a Design” button, you will be given three options; choosing a template design, creating custom dimensions, or uploading a photo. Choose one of the three.
Step 2: Choose a template
If you choose to use templates, you will be given template options that fall under the design you want to create. For instance, if you are making a photo to share on your Instagram stories, all the listed templates will have the recommended aspect ratio for Instagram stories.
These templates also have categories, such as Quotes, Promotions, Events, Contests, etc., that you can choose from. The goal is to select a template as close as possible to the design you intend to create.
Step 3: Design from scratch
To create your design from scratch, you must add all the elements manually. You will also be required to specify the dimensions of your plan at the beginning.
After selecting the dimensions, start by adding a background and later add more elements to your design, including logos, text, and symbols.
We don't recommend starting from scratch, especially for those new to design. Using templates is much easier since you can edit or remove all the elements within the template.
Step 4: Edit the template
You must edit the template by changing or removing elements and replacing them with your own. Remember, there is a strong possibility that other users have chosen the same template you are using.
That is why it is essential to personalize yours to make it unique and on-brand. You can create custom templates from scratch with their generous free plan, even using mobile phones.
If you need to change the image in the template, Canva has a vast library of stock images in the free version that you can use to create your projects.
With the Canva Pro or Teams account, you get premium stock images to create social media posts and graphics, which is a very inexpensive option.
If you want to edit an element, double-click it to trigger the editor. To remove a part, click it once and tap the delete button at its top.
Alongside the delete button, you will also see the duplicate button that you can use to duplicate some aspects if you want to use it more than once in your design.
Unlike offline graphic design tools like Photoshop, all changes you make to your Canva design will be saved automatically in real time.
Step 5: Share or download your file
Once done with making the changes, the next step is saving the file to your phone or computer. Canva will allow you to download the file in various formats, including PNG, JPG, PDF Standard, PDF Print, SVG, mp4, or GIF.
Pro Tip: Your project will remain in one of your Canva folders even after downloading the file, so you can always come back and edit it whenever you wish.
You may also share the graphic design you created on social media or any other platform directly integrating with Canva. To do this, open the design file, click the share button, and choose a platform where you want the design published.
There is also the option of scheduling if you want to wait to post the design.
The Basics of Creating a Design in Canva
Canva is primarily a tool built to create digital designs. However, getting the best out of Canva requires you to know how to create designs with this platform.
In this section of this Canva review, we will guide you through some of these essentials.
Choose the right template
Templates are one of the reasons many people choose to use Canva over professional graphic design tools like Photoshop. Canva currently has over 600,000 templates you can choose from to create different designs.
These templates are created by design professionals and examined by Canva to ensure they meet their quality standards.
Each Canva template is created for a specific design project. For example, a template created for a Facebook cover photo should not be used for different designs, such as creating a design to post on Instagram.
The main reason not to use these templates for tasks they were not intended for is their layout and aspect ratio differs.
The brand kit feature will save you time
Brand Kit is a feature in Canva that allows you to assemble your brand assets that can be integrated into your designs automatically.
Some of the assets include brand fonts, logos, colors, etc. For every design you create, all your brand's assets will be seamlessly integrated, saving countless minutes and helping you maintain brand consistency.
The brand kit feature is only available in paid versions of Canva.
You can collaborate with others
Canva allows different people to collaborate on a design project using the Team feature. The Team feature enables every Canva user to create a team they can work with on particular design projects.
You must input the email addresses of the people you want to add to your team. There is also an option of generating a link you can share with your potential team members requesting them to join your project.
This feature is available on Canva for Teams.
You can play around with different design elements
Every Canva user has access to various elements, including royalty-free photos, audio videos, and social media graphics that they can add to their Canva templates.
If you don't have pictures or videos to use in your designs, you can take advantage of these free elements with Canva. Most of the elements are only available to premium subscribers.
Make a copy of your work
Having copies of all your projects will save you a lot of time when you want to create a similar project.
For example, if you make a design for Instagram stories, you can use a copy of that design to avoid going back to the templates library to look for the templates you used for that particular project.
If you use a copy of the projects you saved, you have to replace a few elements with new ones and publish the photo, which will save you a lot of time.
Import media faster with integrations
Canva integrates with several social media and cloud storage platforms that you can incorporate into your Canva account. The integration will make importing photos and videos you may need while working on your projects much easier.
While starting, consider linking all the platforms you use to share or store photos with Canva.
Linking as many platforms as makes sense for your needs will save time each occurrence you need something not stored in Canva.
Designing from scratch is still possible
If you trust your graphic design skills, Canva doesn't force you to use their pre-designed templates.
There is the option of starting with a clean slate, so you can add elements as you wish. You can also change the aspect ratio of the final product.
This is an option that professional designers could take advantage of, especially if the available templates do not help facilitate their desired design. However, for most people using templates is always the best option.
Make good use of the learning resources
Canva is one of those platforms that has gone the extra mile to provide its users with learning resources they can use to get started or become better with Canva.
There are numerous courses, articles, and tutorials that you can use to enhance your graphic design skills. The good news is that most of these resources are free.
The design principles and knowledge you will get from these courses are not only limited to Canva; you can use them on other design platforms too.
Canva Review – Best Features
Photo editing tools
Canva is a decent online photo editor, and it is easy to make basic photo edits. Many photo editing options, like the magic, resize tool, and drag-and-drop editor, make it easy for a beginner to edit photos using Canva. If you want to do quick edits,
Canva has several effects and filters, even in their free version, that you can add to your photos to make them look different from the original.
For those who need to create more custom edits, Canva allows you to adjust your photos as you would if you used professional tools like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. You can adjust brightness, blur, tint, saturation, contrast, x-process, and vignette.
Templates and other design elements
Canva offers over 600K templates and over 100 million free photos, graphics, audio clips, etc., that you can use to create your designs. These templates and elements are available in almost every category, making it easy for nearly anyone to create designs for their social media or website.
When you choose the design type, Canva will automatically suggest templates to suit that design. You can also use specific keywords to search and find the elements and templates you need much faster.
Drag and drop editor
The intuitive editor of Canva is one of its key features that enable users to quickly drag and drop elements in any position of their design.
The editor lets users add different parts to their plans by simply double-clicking them. However, most users prefer the drag-and-drop method; it is more user-friendly and quicker.
One of the critical elements while creating digital designs is the text font. Canva has 100 free font styles that you can use for text in your designs.
There is also an option of uploading your custom fonts if necessary. You can download fonts from any font library and add them to your brand kit. However, uploading custom fonts is only available for pro users.
This feature allows users to create multiple brand kits, including colors, fonts, logos, templates, etc. These assets will automatically be integrated into all their designs. So, instead of adding one element at a time, you can add all of them simultaneously.
Adding the assets you will use in almost every design is always best to get the best out of this feature. The brand kit feature is not available in the free version and is one of the best reasons to upgrade.
Canva offers an animate images feature that allows you to add animations to your pictures to make them more appealing, especially if you intend to share them on social media.
There are several animation effects that you can add to your photos depending on the plan you are subscribed to. Animation effects available for the free plan include; Block, Breathe, Fade, Pan, and Rise.
Pro users can access more animations, including Drift, Stomp, Tectonic, Baseline, Pop, Neon, and Scrapbook.
Publishing and scheduling content for social media
If you use Canva to create images that you can use to promote your business on social media, this feature will save you a lot of time.
You can share your designs on your favorite social media platform from your Canva app. The supported social networks include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook Pages, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Slack, and Tumblr.
If you prefer to schedule your publishing, Canva allows you to schedule the exact day, hour, and minute you want it to go live. This feature will come in handy, especially for people fond of forgetting.
Vast storage capacity is another excellent feature of Canva that makes it possible to store all the marketing materials in one place.
Content Planner is like an extension of the publishing and scheduling feature. This feature has a calendar-like interface that shows you all the designs you have scheduled and the respective days they will be published.
If you want a specific design you are creating to be posted on a particular day, hover your cursor over that date, click the “+” button, and choose the “create a design” option. This design will now automatically be added to your publishing schedule.
You can convert your raw video to mp4 using Canva's free video coverts. MP4 videos are light, making them much easier to share on social media and other web platforms.
The quality of your video will be maintained even after it is converted to mp4. Canva also has a basic video editor that you can use to add some tweaks to the video before sharing it.
Canva has built-in tools that you can use to create vertical or horizontal mirror images that you can later share on any platform.
This feature also allows you to flip photos if you wish. For example, if your mirrored images are horizontal, you can flip them over to make them vertical.
Canva video editor allows users to crop videos to cut off unwanted elements from the frame's top, bottom, left, and right areas.
For instance, if you want to use a video on Instagram, you may have to crop it into a perfect square. TikTok, YouTube shorts, and Instagram Reels must be cut to create a vertical rectangular shape.
You can collaborate on projects with your workmates or friends right within Canva. As long as you both have Canva, you must go to the Teams section and invite them using their emails.
There is also an option of generating a link and sending it to everyone you wish to participate in the project.
While collaborating, everyone on the team can contribute to the design. The team members' changes are shown to the rest to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the project.
Background remover is an excellent feature that you can use to eliminate unnecessary subjects while editing photos to publish on social media or your website.
Canva uses AI to identify the central issue in the images, and then everything else is removed.
All this is possible with a single click. You will get transparent backgrounds. A similar task would take longer when you use professional photo editing software such as Photoshop, so Canva provides excellent value in this area.
Please note that the background remover feature is only available for Canva Pro users and above.
Set download quality
This feature allows users to change the resolution to high, medium, or low before downloading the design you have just created.
The image quality downloaded should marry the platform you intend to publish the image.
If you have ever wished to print out the designs, you create them with your online design app. This feature is for you. Canva print enables users to make physical copies of their designs that Canva will later deliver to their doorstep.
The designs that can be printed include business cards, flyers, T-shirts, packaging boxes, etc.
If you use Canva to work on multiple projects, folders will make it much easier to organize them. You can manage your projects based on categories to make it easy to find them whenever you need to publish or use them in the future.
Currently, Canva doesn't limit how many folders you can create.
How is Canva Rated?
One of the things you will have to consider when selecting a design or photo editing tool is its ratings on trusted websites, such as Trustradius, Capterra, or G2.
It helps to read the reviews to get in-depth details of the experience of the people already using the tool.
The good news is that Canva is a popular design tool, and you will find reviews and ratings for Canva on almost every review website. Here are Canva's ratings on the following review websites.
Note: All ratings and review counts are from March 2, 2023.
Trustradius – 9.0/10
Canva has an overall rating of 9.0/10 across 1,152 reviews. Most people on this platform recommend Canva because it is easy to use. Below are some of the reviews;
Capterra – 4.7/5 Stars
Canva has an overall rating of 4.7/5 stars across 11,019 reviews. Most people give it a 5-star rating mainly for its ease of use and features. Below are some of the reviews people wrote about Canva on Capterra.
G2 – 4.7/5 Stars
Canva has an overall review of 4.7/5 stars from over 3,888 reviewers. Most reviewers on G2 recommend Canva because it is easy to use and has reliable customer support. Below are some of the popular reviews.
Canva updated its pricing structure in 2022 to remove Enterprise and add Canva for Teams. We've broken down its most current pricing below.
Canva Free: $0/month
- Over 250,000 templates to choose from
- 100+ design templates
- 1+ million free photos and graphics
- 5GB of cloud storage
- Basic collaboration features
Canva Pro: $12.99/month or $119.99/year per person
All features in the Free plan, plus:
- More than 100 million premium stock photos, audio clips, graphics, and videos
- 610,000 templates and designs added to daily
- Up to 100 brand kits
- Background remover
- Magic image resizing
- Up to 1TB of cloud storage
- Save designs as templates
- Schedule social media posts for up to 8 platforms
- Supports one user
This plan comes with a 30-day free trial that you can use to determine if it is worth your money.
Canva for Teams: $14.99/month per user w/ 2+ users to start or $149.90/year for up to 5 people
All features in the Pro plan, plus:
- Control your team's access to apps, graphics, colors, logos, and fonts with brand controls
- Control team uploads into Canva
- Built-in workflows to get approval on your designs
- Choose the elements your team can edit
- 24/7 premium customer support
- Single sign-on
- Team reports and insights
This plan is for up to five people only. The pricing changes if you want to customize the plan for more people in your organization.
Canva for Nonprofits
Canva offers a free version of its software platform to registered 501c3 non-profit organizations. You can apply for free on the Canva website. Learn more about eligibility guidelines for Canva for Nonprofits.
Canva Customer Support
Canva has excellent customer support that you can rely on to have all your issues fixed. The free plan can only access self-service support that includes courses, tutorials, and being part of the Canva forum.
Pro and Teams users are eligible for 24/7 email support in addition to the self-services that every user on the platform receives.
One of the main reasons users recommend Canva is its reliable customer support. The platform has an average customer support rating of 8.5/10 on most review websites. This shows that most of its users are satisfied with the support services.
Canva Enterprise Alternative
Check out our best Canva alternatives. If you are looking for a Canva Enterprise Alternative now that Canva has removed that from their plans, here are your best options.
Both are strong Canva Enterprise alternatives for business design applications
Canva Review Wrap-up
Canva is the defacto online design platform most people recommend. Finding Canva alternatives that are easy to use and work seamlessly is difficult.
Canva's intuitive drag-and-drop template and the rich image library of templates, fonts, and other design elements make it easy for users to create unique designs. Canva is ideally meant for everyday users who don't have design expertise.
Canva's free plan has many enough features if you avoid going deeper into customizing the templates. For those needing access to the best templates and customization features, the Pro or Teams plans will provide everything you need.
Web Tools Advisor uses the Team plan, which has helped us produce most of our branded assets on the website or social media. It is a great tool, and we highly recommend it.
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