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When it comes to giving your website and social network content an attractive edge, Canva is the online graphic design application and resource that can make it happen.
I started a new blog site this year, and nearly all my designs for the site originate from Canva. I use Canva because it allows me, a novice graphic designer with a basic understanding of the principles of graphic design, to start with professionally designed templates, graphics, and font styles to make my site and social networks more appealing.
Since we last reviewed Canva a few years ago, several useful tools and features have been added for all sorts of graphic design needs, including Facebook and Twitter account covers, email headers, real estate flyers, Kindle covers, and Facebook ad templates.
Canva is very simple for the newbie who has little inkling of design. After registering an account on Canva, start by selecting the design you want to use, (e.g. Google+ cover, Twitter post graphic, Pinterest design, photo collage.) The dimensions are set for your selected template, but you can select a custom design with your width and height.
Canva provides a set of layouts you can customize for your needs. Naturally you can start from scratch and create a new background and search for images and icons you want to use. Many designs are free, while others cost a $1 per design or graphic element.
For example, the following Twitter post layout is a paid design, which is watermarked. You can customize the design and even download it before deciding to purchase.
Canva gives you 24 hours after you pay for the download to make additional changes to a paid graphic free of charge. After I downloaded a paid design, I made a copy of it in Canva, opened it in the editor, removed the added words, and downloaded the graphic or illustration in case I want to use it again in the future.
Canva has added numerous design templates — notable ones are the Kindle covers and email header designs. A professional Kindle book cover can run into hundreds of dollars, but if you’re an independent author wanting to save some money, Canva provides great templates for getting started with your own cover.
The new email headers are useful when you don’t want to design an entire graphic email, but would like to incorporate a design element that could make your special email more attractive.
Basic designs tools are similar to what we use in all desktop design applications, but there are a few advanced features that might not be obvious when using Canva for the first time. For example, you can not only customize the font style, size, and text alignment in any layout, but you can also use the advanced text spacing and line height tools.
Add or reduce the space between characters in word for a more balanced design depending on the fonts you choose. With two or more lines of text, you can adjust the line height between them. This tool is not present in every design element, but you can look for it by clicking on the blue triangle in the font menu, and then clicking on “Text spacing.”
Canva also expanded its sharing options to support Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and email. Shared designs get embedded into Facebook and Pinterest posts, whereas with email and Twitter, only the link to the design is shared.
Design Tutorials and Streams
Canva is doing an excellent job of providing tutorials about strategies and principles of graphic design and using its design tools. If you’re new to graphic design, you owe it to yourself to work through the Canva Design School, as well as read The Non-Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams. The Canva tutorials only a take a few minutes each to complete.
For inspirational purposes, Canva added Streams, which is nothing less than a huge library of awesome designs you can like and comment on.
Canva For iPad
I like browsing and sometimes working in Canva on my iPad. The Canva app on iOS includes all the features of the online version, except for the Stream and tutorial sections, as well as a few missing template categories. The app is a free download.
What Is Your Excuse?
Canva is easy to use and affordable. You can even upload your own images and artwork to the site, and make use of the templates and fonts for free. For design professionals, the Canva Marketplace has opened its doors. Contribute and earn from your creative designs. With tools like Canva around, there’s little excuse these days for not having an attractive online presence.
Let us know what you think of Canva and how you’re using it with your blog or other online content and social networks.