Making Beautiful Designs The Easy Way With Canva [Signup & Free Credit]

Matthew Hughes 27-11-2013

Are you crap at design? Don’t worry. There’s no shame in it. Making things look good is insanely hard. It seems that artistic talent is one of those gifts that comes to the very few. For those who are not instinctively good at design, you can always go to university and spend four years studying it. But what about the rest of us?


Design at its fundamental core isn’t actually all that difficult. Despite being ‘arty’, there’s some science behind making things look good. There are rules to follow that influence design decisions. Rules about typography A Test Of Character: 10 Font Games That Prove Typography Can Be Fun Playing around with typography can be fun. You will love these games if you like the sound of the quick brown fox who jumped over the lazy dog. Find out what we are talking about. Read More . Rules about visual hierarchies.

What if someone made those decisions for you, thus removing the most difficult bits of design? What if creating a genuinely beautiful design was just a matter of dragging and dropping? That’s what Canva is. And it’s incredible.

Canva is currently in private beta, and is perhaps one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen. It promises to make it possible for anyone who has ever flunked an art exam to create aesthetically pleasing designs. The big question is, does it deliver?

Note: MakeUseOf readers can head below for a fantastic offer from Canva.

Creating A Design

There are a lot of design formats on offer with Canva. Want to make an infographic The 5 Best Free Tools to Make Infographics Online If you want to make an infographic but don't have the design skills, here are the best free tools for making infographics online. Read More ? You can do that. Feel as though your business cards 6 Great Sources for Cheap and Beautiful Business Cards You Can Print If you're a freelancer or you run a small business, you know that having a great business card is a valuable asset. However, when you're just starting out, printing business cards can seem a little... Read More could use a refresh? You can do that too. If you need to, you can specify your own dimensions.


Canva Dimensions

From there, you’re presented with a blank canvas upon which you can unleash creative destruction. A good start is adding a background. There are hundreds of different backgrounds available to use for free, including some really stunning textured ones. If you fancy splashing out some cash, you can get some brilliant photograph based designs. However, the free options should be abundantly adequate for most people.

Canva Bg

Once you’ve got your background sorted, you can start adding some content. Whilst it’s entirely possible for you to add text to your design in a free-form manner, there are some pre-made text designs that are ready made for you to use. Some are quirky, whilst others wouldn’t look terribly out of place in a stuffy corporate brochure. This is a smart move on Canva’s behalf.


Canva Text

Adding these to your design is a matter of dragging and dropping. Once you’ve copied them in, you can start to customize them. The levels to which these can be changed is huge; font, size, color and orientation are all up to be modified. If you make a mistake, you can just scrap it and start again. Much like the backgrounds, most of the pre-made text designs are free to use. However, there are some on offer which will ask you to open up your wallet.

If you’re not too hot on laying out your design, Canva has you covered. There are a stunning array of layouts on offer. However, finding the right one for you may involve scrolling through the hundreds of layouts.

Canva Layout


If you want to give your design a slightly more personal touch, you’ll be pleased to know that Canva allows you to import photos directly from Facebook, or from your hard drive. Sadly, the Facebook integration is hampered by only pulling photos that you have posted as a status. If you’re hoping to use those photos you took on vacation and put in their own Facebook album, you’re out of luck.


Once you’ve finished with your design, you can export it. There’s nothing revolutionary here. Images are exported as perfectly adequate PNG files, and there’s a PDF option, if you’re so inclined. You can even give it a public facing link, allowing you to share your design on social media. You can even allow your friends to edit your design!



Grab an Amazing Offer with a Click

Convinced? Canva has given all of our readers access to their private beta, as well as $10 credit to spend on photography and graphics from their premium library. To get your hands on this amazing offer, click here.


I failed pretty much every art class I ever took. Making things look good has never, ever been my forte. And yet, with Canva I was able to create the featured image for this post. And, in my humble opinion, it doesn’t look too bad.

Will you be giving it a go? Have you used it? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. niko
    November 19, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    I still prefer for banner creating . Canva seems complicated to me :)

  2. Christine S
    April 15, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    With my countless attempts to design anything with even a hint of aesthetic appeal ending up as massive visual fails I was dubious when I first hear of Canva. To my surprise it guided me through a process that resulted in a finished product that was well, really gorgeous. There are certainly limits to what Canva allows the user to do - but they are well-constructed constraints that result in a more polished finished product. My only criticism is that you can upsize but not down size an image within a frame. Without doubt the best image page making graphic support tool out there for the aesthetically challenged amongst us.

    • Matthew H
      April 30, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      It's still in an early stage. Perhaps that functionality will get added in future releases! :)

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Julian Thomas
    November 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Beautiful! Just signed up and went through their learning wizard. Awesome tool - thanks!

    • Matthew H
      November 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Cool! Made anything awesome with it yet?

  4. Douglas M.
    November 28, 2013 at 2:44 am

    I love Canva. I often use it for sharing blog posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It makes them more eye-catching and I do believe they receive more clicks because of it :)

    • Matthew H
      November 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Agreed. I actually used it for a feature image on one of my own blog posts! :)

  5. Jurmy C
    November 27, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for reserving your Canva account so I'm still on hold, but looks promising.

    • Matthew H
      November 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Weird. Did you use the link above to get your hands on a Canvas account?