Canva, at first glance, looks like another very limited sort of graphic design solution. Appearances can be deceiving, though. Canva is designed to aid educational institutions and nonprofit organizations with marketing and social media presence. Going into it, one has to expect it to not be so much of an “art program” as a general design tool with presentation software capabilities.
- Point-and-Click – Designing components is a matter of point-and-click visual editing, which makes it a lot easier, especially with the limited input and screen space available to something like an iPod app.
- Multitude of Document Types – Implement a ton of different document types into your presentation or design! This can include business cards, logo makers, flyers, banners, reports, brochures, calendars, infographics, book covers, letterheads, proposals, posters, postcards, resumes, tickets, Facebook covers, certificates, and much more.
- Diverse Photo Editing – While it’s diverse but a bit basic, photo editing is readily available. Implement free icons, textures, speech bubbles, frames, transparency, text, blur, grids, stickers, and all sorts of other basic photo manipulations with considerable ease. It’s not at the levels of manipulation it probably should offer, but it’s a start.
- Integrations – Canva integrates with the WordPress CMS system via a plugin for website design, which allows owners the ability to create fantastic graphics without changing screens. Canva also integrates with a variety of marketing and social media applications, such as ShortStack and Sendible. Canva also offers mobile apps, which is great for on-the-go designers.
- Graphs – Various types of basic, standard graphs are available. Mind maps, bar graphs, organizational charts, 3, 4, and 5 circle Venn diagrams, pie charts, and line graphs are all available to allow you to easily visualize basic information in an easily-consumed form everyone can readily understand.
- Diverse Templates – A ton of templates are available to produce crisp, professional looks. More templates are promised in the future, as well as a potential crowd sourced third party template marketplace.
- Mobile Cross-Platform – This app is available for both of the major mobile platforms, iOS iPhone and iPad apps, and Android with no functionality or feature loss between the two distributions. No Windows or Mac versions are available at this time, though emulation would run them just fine.
Canva is advertised as a completely free program, in both presentation and graphic design software categories. This is not that uncommon with mobile apps, though they almost always fall victim to ads or upsell tactics (in-app purchases or tier upgrades) to support the program when maintaining it becomes too impractical in the long run. So far, Canva has not done this, sticking to their nonprofit mentality pretty rigidly.
Canva for Work is a different plan, and so deserves its own mention. This is a unique distribution of Canva oriented around branding, marketing, and SEO. It’s actually very powerful and is honestly one of the forms in which Canva truly shines. Unlike the free versions of the program, though, Canva for Work is not free. It’s reasonably priced however, and does offer a 30 day free trial for businesses to try out (with a 3 day advance warning before the trial ends).