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The Rise of Canva

April 26, 2022

Connie Sishton


Canva is a free online visual communication tool that empowers users around the world to use and create graphics with confidence. Today, we’re exploring the rise of Canva from its inspirations to its revolutionary effect on the design world, as well as taking a peek at the key criticisms and benefits that it holds.

So, first off, what does Canva do? Well, the simple interface allows users to use, create and edit:

  • Templates
  • Presentations
  • Images
  • Social media graphics
  • Videos
  • Digital and print media,
  • The list goes on

The inspiration

Cast your mind back to the teenies. What did you use to edit your pictures? In my case, I use OG platforms including PicMonkey and Picnik (closed in 2013). These were the first examples of beginner-friendly online editing. Canva basically built on these ideas, to create a service that allows people to edit, build, develop and present whole brands, without design knowledge.

Over the years, Canva has built a user base of more than just marketers, but bloggers, organisations and educational institutions too (to name a few). It’s safe to say, Canva’s user-friendly design platform has proved revolutionary.

The journey

In two years of running, five million users had created over 35 million designs. Yes, you read that right! So, how did this occur? It was no overnight success, according to Aussie co-founder and creator, Melanie Perkins.

Since teaching design programs in 2007, Melanie saw the struggle to be collaborative in online design. She wanted to bring all functions of imagery, fonts, illustrations and layouts together that could be accessible and sharable. With all of the complexities of digital systems and programs, Melanie had the bright idea to make a platform that could easily be adapted… And Canva was born in 2013

Perkins and Cliff Obrecht (Co-founder) are now among the 10 richest people in Australia, leading offices in Sydney and Manila and doubling its workforce in 2021.

Criticisms of Canva

  1. Fear that Canva is ruining the design industry

Some designers dislike Canva for the sole reason of harming the industry and functionality of their important role. Designers may feel as if the interface has replaced their job which is wrong.

Institutions need graphic designers for tasks that not even Canva can manage. Canva isn’t ideal for designing logos or images as it’s not a vector-based program (like Adobe Illustrator), so you can’t create a design that’s scalable to any size without losing resolution/quality.

  1. You need internet access

To use Canva you need a stable internet connection – this isn’t a thing with inbuilt designing programs. This may not be an issue for some because of the abundance of hotspot areas, but nonetheless, it’s still an issue.

  1. File formats

If you’re a business operating online you may want to listen up!

Canva isn’t the best at exporting graphics in various formats whereas graphic designers are knowledgeable in preparing design formats for your work.

Using an incorrect format could potentially harm your optimised graphic on your website, slowing down your page and harming your SEO efforts in the process.

  1. Sourcing responsibility

Graphic designers know the standard procedure for sourcing images responsibility, falling in line with licencing, royalties and trademarks. Yet users of Canva could unknowingly breach certain ownership rights when resharing their Canva design.

Quick Tip – if you require royalty-free images, visit the following sites for inspiration:

What are the benefits of Canva?

Canva has been the top pick for many multinational and small institutions around the globe – With companies such as Zoom, Salesforce, Marriot international, PayPal and American Airlines adopting the platform into their business tactics. Why, you ask?

Canva for work

Teams of people can easily collaborate on projects using Canva designs, brand kits, premium designs and much more. You’re at the liberty of starting a free Pro trial to test the usability amongst colleagues.

Features made by the community

It’s great to see some fantastic templates and designs that the Canva community have made. As well as that, by utilising these designs and showcasing them to our audience, you’re promoting the creativity of the community – that in itself is inspired.

Canva is free

Canva is free for any designer with multifaceted artistic inventions. There’s also an option to upgrade with additional features and premium tools.

Partnerships with other companies

Over the years Canva has partnered with companies such as Flourish, HubSpot, UP show, Buzz sprout, Sportsdigital (and many more) to create well-rounded usability with added features.

Canva and Graphic Designers can co-exist

Can Canva & designers co-exist?

“ More than 60 million people are now using Canva for everything from launching startups to raising awareness for nonprofits, supporting remote learning, collaborating in distributed teams, and managing global enterprise brands at scale. We’re incredibly excited to be further accelerating our mission to truly empower the world to design,” Canva co-founder and CEO, Melanie Perkins.
Melanie Perkins - Canva, CEO

Touching on the growth of Canva, we can see that they are a force to be reckoned with. Graphic Designers and Canva can co-exist. Who’s to say whether the two could merge. Including a personal Graphic Designer for each institution and factoring it into a Canva Pro package may just be the answer for the future of the design world…have we just thought of the next step in Canva’s strategy? You saw it here first.

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