If you browse the past entries of my blog, sadly you will see that it was a ghost town for over a year, and I just recently I started writing more posts on a regular basis. It’s not because I find blogging a waste of time, but it’s because I’ve been busy with regular writing jobs.
But in the last few weeks I’ve re-committed to blogging more, and to be honest it’s not just because I’m blogging my forthcoming book, but also because I’m soooooo jazzed about using the graphic design site, Canva.com. Actually, I confess that a few of my recent blog posts were influenced by a design I created Canva.
Canva allows users to create custom graphic designs completely from scratch, or choosing from hundreds (maybe thousands!) of themes created for social networking sites including Pinterest and Facebook, blogging sites like this one, as well as for presentations, posters, business cards, photo collages, and invitations.
(Note: Canva is still only available via beta invites. I have two invites left for anyone who wants one. Just send me your email address.)
Canva includes plenty of instructions on how to get started creating your own designs, so there’s no need to explain that here. Instead, I want to share about how I use the site, and how you too might find it useful.
First off, I am by no means a designer. The few books I’ve read on the subject include the classic Non-Designers DesignBook, by Robin Williams (a book that breaks down basic principles of design in a way that anyone can understand), and Jim Krause’s Design Basic Index, which is also useful for browsing ideas and design techniques. I have several other design books on my bookshelf, but quite honestly I have not had time to read them much.
Canva.com is also about learning design as you create projects. So far the site includes twelve interactive tutorials, plus more tips on its blog that help you understand how graphic design works and what techniques you can try in your own projects.
Practice and Play Around
As you can see on my site I’ve already used designs from Canva, some created from scratch, but most based on the awesome templates they provide.
My approach is to create designs and save templates for possible use on my blog or Twitter posts. I sometimes make duplicates of a design and try a few different approaches, instead of going with the first one. And when possible, I let designs rest in my Canva library for a few days, and then touch them up before publishing. Creating designs is much like writing. You create a draft of a graphic, and then revise it as many times as you need to make look appealing.
Creating designs in Canva has now become another side hobby for me. Call me geeky, but I find it cathartic to work with various fonts, colors, and images and see what I can create. And I get a kick out of taking an existing theme and creating a new design out of it. So I guess you can say, I’m a wanna-be designer.
Much of the layouts and themes in Canva are based on the principles of clean, minimal flat design, which is very popular in infographics, and is what Apple’s latest iOS 7 user interface and apps are based on.
Everything You Need
Finally, Canva provides everything you need in one place to create designs. Sure, for more advance work, InDesign, Photoshop, and the like, are essential for larger projects, but for the rest of us, Canva not only provides a library of professional layouts, but thousands of shapes, fonts, background, layouts, and royalty free photos and images to choose from. You simply need the time and patience to search for what you need.
You can easily add your own photos and graphics to your Canva library to use in your projects. There are lots of free themes and layouts available, and premium backgrounds, elements, graphics, and photos cost only a dollar a piece. So far I’ve purchased $10 worth of credit, and have only paid for two premium elements. The premium price is very reasonable and affordable, especially if you appreciate the power of what design can do for your blog or business.
Good Design Is Required
Even if you don’t think you have graphic design skills, you should still give the Canva a try. You don’t need drawing skills, or use advance design tools. You just need a willingness to play around with fonts, colors, backgrounds, and images, and apply what you learn from design tutorials.