How I decided to work with Canva instead of against it

How I decided to work with Canva instead of against it

As a designer, I wasn’t a fan of Canva. You can imagine why… Suddenly ‘everyone’ claims they can design. And my god, I see things on social media where I can see it’s designed by someone who has no design experience or schooling. Canva is a great tool and I’ve been testing it to see where its limitations are, and I can tell you, it cannot replace a designer!


Where a designer is schooled in the technical side of design and has a creative eye for what’s right and wrong, and I don’t mean what’s ugly or pleasing to the eye. Canva seems to miss these, especially on the technical side. There are so many ‘no-goes’ within design which most people don’t know about. So, when Canva made an appearance I screamed and rebelled but realised that I’m better off joining forces and having it work for me, rather than fighting it. It was going to be a losing battle anyway.

So, what did I do?

I spent a lot of time exploring the tool, testing what works and what doesn’t and finding a way for it to add value to my clients. What I found was that it’s a great tool for social media but absolutely crap for print. Why? Because there’s no way of adding technical aspects to the files. There’s no way of adding margins, which is quite important when designing a brochure. And there’s no way of knowing if an image is high enough in resolution.

By following other designers who have made it their job to create within Canva, I can see where the possibilities lie. But still, I found it didn’t give me the creative freedom I’m used to compared to Adobe.

Designing a logo is a no-go. Canva just can’t do what Illustrator does, even when people claim it can, it can’t. There’s no drawing tool, no special effects or clever drawing things we designers use in Illustrator. The same goes for manipulating images for which designers use Photoshop. You need to use elements within the tool to create something. So just for that, it won’t replace me.

Why Canva gave me a migraine?

So, what better way to find out where the limitations are besides creating logos, by designing a 52-page brochure? I thought it would be fun to design this in Canva. But the headache started at the end stage when I was ready to go to print and couldn’t export the file using printing requirements like bleed and margins. There was no way of adjusting the standard bleed. No way of exporting the file without cutting lines. There was no way of adding margins so the wire-o-binding wouldn’t go through the text. Which meant the only option I had was to resize the document. But… This caused even more problems…

When you resize something in Canva, it automatically resizes everything on the page. So, my text, which was 12 pt, became 14 (too big). My images didn’t run off the page so I had to resize all of them again. Meaning, I had to start again! Check every page, text box, image, and bleed. Make sure all headings were the same size and font. Then double-check to see if I hadn’t missed anything. In InDesign, this wouldn’t have happened and when you need to change something, you do it in one spot, and everything chances with you.

I also found there’s no way to let text run beautifully within the text boxes. You can’t do soft enters or play with the space between the letters. You can’t add bullets and then let the text run underneath the bullet instead of at the beginning of the line. It was driving me mad! I held on, there was no way Canva was going to win this one!

There’s just no room for any creativity. My lesson in this? It’s great for social media content, and absolutely useless for print. But I don’t give up easily, so what is it good for?

Where it adds value for my clients

The fact that so many people were using Canva for their social media content made me look in that direction. How can Canva add value to my clients where resolution and bleeds are of no importance for the result? I found it’s great for creating social media templates where the client can add their own text and image to a template that is set in their corporate identity. This way they’re always on brand, even on social media. As the free version can be enough for the client to work with, there are no added costs to this solution. It saves me hours of creating posts for them and gives them the freedom to create their own content.

So, the next question is, how do I get my clients to work with it correctly?

There’s one thing about creating content using templates, you still need to understand the importance of design and its role in your appearance to the outside world. This resulted in me creating a course (workshop) where I teach people the importance of design using Canva and staying on brand without hiring a designer.

In this course, we look at the aspects of social media. What do you want to use it for? Who is your audience, and what is your message? Then we look into the aspects of design. What are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to design? Why it’s so important to be on-brand. And, how to create their own templates using the elements within Canva to their advantage. An interactive workshop where you leave feeling confident creating your own content for social media.

Interested in following this course yourself?

Especially for this reason I’ve created a live workshop where I take you through the do’s and don’ts of design and how to incorporate this into your social media content. Contact me for more info or to sign up.

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