is one of the easiest, most effective tools I’ve ever used for creating brilliant images that help me communicate my message to my audience.


I was wondering what kind of quote I could open this review with, something about the critical nature or effective communication of images, but one that kept coming to mind was this:

Other than the fact that one can’t go wrong by opening a blog post with a quote from Chuck Norris, there’s actually a really fantastic point that Chuck’s making here that we will get to shortly.

But what we’re here to talk about is Canva. And let me just get to the TL;DR right now: Canva is one of the easiest, most effective tools I’ve ever used for creating brilliant images that help me communicate my message to my audience.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll get into the What and the Why.

What is Canva, Anyways?

If you’ve spent any time on Google+ at all over the past month, you’ve probably heard of Canva. While the company and it’s online graphic design tool may have launched in August of 2013, it was the revelation of its use by social media giants Peg Fitzpatrick and Rebekah Radice that raised my awareness level and that of many others. Not long after, Guy Kawasaki joined Canva as their Chief Evangelist, and even Martin Shervington got in on the fun and honored Canva with one of his brilliant Google+ quests, #CanvaQuest.

If you’ve never tried it, there’s a reason why so many people are excited for the tool. In fact, there is more than one.

It’s Free

Canva images are free or inexpensive.
Right off the bat, Canva appeals to prolific bloggers like myself who need to be able to create new graphics quickly and inexpensively. Well, it doesn’t get any more inexpensive than Canva. You can create whatever graphics you want without spending a dime. The only cost at all is if you choose to use one or more of the stock images Canva offers through the interface when building your graphic. These images are available for $1.

It’s Easy

Yeah. Let’s just say that I’m not a graphic design wizard. In my early blog posts, I would use a screenshot or a random image that so thought related to the post. Last year I finally started editing images to “brand” them more and better communicate the topic of the blog, but they were still pedestrian as I was just using Mac Preview to add text.

I have PhotoShop for slicing PSD files, and I’ve tried other online graphic design tools, but none were as intuitive as Canva. Within moments of starting my first graphic, I was adding elements and text and getting things lined up perfectly.

It’s Powerful

Of course, basic programs like Mac Preview are easy too. What made Canva so different for me was that I was able to build custom graphics. Now, Canva did not and really cannot transform me into a professional designer overnight. A professional designer brings so much more to the table than what a tool can deliver. It takes experience, design “sense”, an understanding of how colors and fonts and layers can impact a design, and so on.

Canva Design Tutorials

What Canva does do, at least for me, is make those things possible. Canva’s website offers a number of free tutorials that are awesome. In fact, that’s where I recommend everyone start. These tutorials will help you not only understand how to use the tool, but also introduce you to some basic design techniques and concepts that will help you tremendously.

Once you get started, you’ll find that you’re able to blend all kinds of options for backgrounds, textures, images, frames, text and other elements to weave together an image that strengthens your blog post or social media content, rather than just having some random image that might or might not mean anything to anyone.

For more guidance on the use of colors in design, check out Dustin W. Stout’s guide to what colors communicate.

It’s Cloud-based

A minor point, but one that I noticed right away and loved, was that as we create new designs, each one is saved to our account for free, and can be jumped back into and edited at any time.

You also have the ability to Copy one of your existing images and completely change or edit that new image. I love the fact that this allows us to create our own custom templates for different kinds of images. More on this in a moment.

It’s Collaborative

And with those cloud-based images, you can also share direct links to the images so that other people can edit one of your images. This is extremely useful if you have a team and want other input on an image or help building it out. It’s also an opportunity to get a professional designer involved to take your images even further!

For some great tips on Canva and images in general, you’ll want to listen to Peg Fitzpatrick, our guest on a recent episode of The Manly Show:

A Word About Templates

As Peg mentions in the video, Canva offers a wide selection of templates in various sizes and for various uses. When you’re just starting out, templates can be a great way to help you not only get a feel for the tool, but also expose you to some nice design layouts. Here’s an example:

Canva offers a wide selection of templates in various sizes and for various uses.
However, I would caution you not to use the available templates too much. Use your own inspiration and creativity. When I’m building a new graphic for a blog post, I always start with a custom dimensions of 700 x 350 use my own imagination to craft an image that communicates what my blog is about, and hopefully piques a reader’s interest.

And now we return to Chuck. Remember what he said?

I think setting a goal, getting a visual image of what it is you want. You’ve got to see what it is you want to achieve before you can pursue it.

~Chuck Norris

The beauty of Canva is that it helps bloggers achieve their goal of creating a beautiful image to go with their engaging content. I can write a blog post, then sit back and imagine what kind of image would go really well with that post, and then go create it.

The more you use Canva and get into specific habits and themes, the easier it will get.

And once you get experienced with Canva, you can begin to develop a recurring style for your posts or for complementary images so that when other people see those graphics, they’ll know where the graphic came from, associating it with you and great information.

So take advantage of this free tool and watch not only your graphics improve, but the response from your readers and visitors as well!

For those of you who have tried Canva already, what did you think? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.C


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