Our guide to Canva, an easy-to-use design tool for marketers
The human brain is visual, so it’s no wonder TikTok users spend, on average, 57 minutes on the platform daily or that Instagram is the sixth most visited website. No matter your preferred social media platform, eye-catching graphics and video perform better than text posts at catching your audience’s attention—plus, they elevate your brand’s identity while differentiating it from the competition. But even if there isn’t a dedicated graphic designer on your team, professional graphics are not out of reach. Canva might just be the tool your business needs to get started. In addition to a full suite of design features, easy-to-use templates and a library containing millions of free stock photos, videos and graphics, Canva is powerful enough for graphic design pros and intuitive enough for beginners. We’re sharing how to create graphics in Canva, including social media posts, simple animations, print collateral and more, plus our designer’s tips for making your visual content stand out from the pack.
Create branded graphics and collateral pieces
In just a few steps, you can create a design for the web or social media that fits your brand’s aesthetic. All you have to do is start a new project and choose a template, or drag an image or photo from the elements tab to your graphic and add text. The text tab features numerous options, offering prefab typographical designs and text sizing options.
Other cool Canva features include a font combination tool that helps you find the perfect font pairing for your project, plus in-app storage and the ability to save branded color palettes and logos. Saving the visual elements of your brand guidelines to your account will allow your team to design consistent collateral pieces seamlessly.
Use templates for design inspiration
Canva has a template for just about everything. From book covers and banners to presentations and social media posts, Canva’s templates fit just about every occasion and aesthetic. Browse social media templates to find options for every platform’s dimensions. Our designer recommends swapping colors and fonts or other elements out to make the template your own.
Ready to take your Canva prowess a step further? Create your own templates and make them available to your entire team. This is especially useful for teams with more than one designer or nonprofits who are divvying up graphic design work among a few different people. To make a shared template, first create a design and publish it. Then, select the template option, select the team templates folder and click “Publish Template.” From there, team members can simply drop in copy and share on a social platform.
Access an extensive photo gallery
A good stock photo library is a must-have for creating graphics. With millions of free and premium stock photos, there are images for just about every occasion or niche you can think of. Some of Canva’s stock photo categories include anything from buildings and landmarks to people, objects and sports.
Canva also gives you the option to upload your own images and photos, which will come in handy for web and social templates. Just design your template, go to the uploads tab, click the “Upload an Image” button, select the images you want to upload, and voilà! Your images will be available for all future designs.
Attract the eye with simple animations
Canva’s intuitive software makes designing simple animations easy. To get started, click away from your design-in-progress to open up a toolbar above your project. Clicking on “animate” will open up a menu of animation options and total animation times. When selected, these animations will apply to all elements in your design. You can apply a different animation type to each page of your design. Our designer’s tip: If you only want some of the design elements to move—for example, just the text—make sure to save a PNG or JPG image of whatever you’d like to remain static. Then, re-upload the image so that Canva recognizes your static elements as a background rather than as multiple layers. Once you’ve added in those design elements you want to animate, click the animate button to choose your preferred style and animation time. You’re all set to spice up your social feed with some dynamic movement!
Resize images to fit the social platform
While Canva offers templates to fit the size specs of square-shaped Instagram posts, vertical Instagram stories and Facebook’s (and LinkedIn’s) longer, horizontal graphics, it may make sense for your team to create graphics in one size first and then resize those finished designs to the other platforms’ specifications. This is actually our standard operating procedure at Yakkety Yak. That way, if changes or revamping are needed, a designer can apply them easily and then use that completed graphic to create one in the alternate size.
Download the right file type
Once the graphic is completed, Canva allows you to download it in a variety of file types. If you’re just getting started with graphics, here are the ones to choose and why:
- For static images, opt for PNG. PNG is a higher-quality compression format than JPG, so your image will look crisper. PNG files can also accommodate transparency, so this is the right file choice for things like logos, which will need to placed on top of other images.
- Save your videos—and certain animated GIFs—as MP4s. MP4 files can include sound, unlike GIFs. However, because we cannot post GIFs directly to Instagram or Facebook, we can save them as MP4 files in order to post them directly to these platforms.
- When downloading a file for print, save this file as a “PDF Print,” and Canva will conveniently include printer’s marks.
Collaborate with the whole team
Canva makes it easy to collaborate with every member of the team. All you need to do to share the design is give someone the link. You can also click on “Share” in the app’s top right-hand corner and select team members to share the project with. Let collaborators view the final product and leave comments and suggestions, or select “can edit” in the share menu to let them make visual adjustments or drop in copy as needed.
The best thing about Canva is the intuitive nature of the platform. Designed for beginner and intermediate designers, anyone can get the hang of making stylish graphics if they just dive into the tool. For a deeper (and more visual) look at designing with Canva, check out our YouTube tutorial, where we walk through the basics of making your own graphics: