canva review 2021

Canva Review 2021 – A Graphic Design Tool for the Masses

Canva is an easy-to-use free graphic design platform that provides a plethora of design models for all. It enables bloggers, companies, and influencers to create magnificent graphics. I've been using Canva Pro for 9 months, and it has covered all my graphic design needs so far. Moreover, I consider the free version of Canva one of the best free Instagram tools.

Canva is a very accessible platform, and it will benefit both expert and novice graphic designers. Canva’s website contains at least 1.5 million photographs that you can download for free. Users may also use the online platform to build their projects from scratch.

Note that this online design tool thrives in its simplicity. Canva is a user-friendly online graphic design tool that offers stacks of design templates for all purposes that you can easily personalize or add your branding to.

With Canva, bloggers, businesses, and professionals can create eye-catching visuals, so Canva helps people who do not have in-depth knowledge and training in graphic design. 

In fact, all the designs on my blog use Canva!

Read also: The best Instagram tools

Canva Tool Features and Designs

Content is only as valuable as the number of people it reaches, and sometimes you need a stimulating, engaging design to speak for your content and attract more readers, customers, or viewers. You can consider creating engaging content with Canva as part of your on-page SEO to maximize your reach, user engagement, and retention.

Towards this, the Canva design tool has an extensive array of features that its users can utilize to create compelling visual content, which includes:

  1. 250,000+ free Templates
  2. Cropping your Images for trim, precise compositions
  3. Applying texture for lovely and attractive designs
  4. Creating thought and speech bubbles with a single drag and drop, along with curved text
  5. Adding text to any photo as a quick caption or for commentary and storytelling
  6. Social media graphics
  7. Image and photo frames
  8. Photo editing: Photo straightening and visual effects, including blur, vignette, filters, background color change and transparent backgrounds
  9. Design grids
  10. Badges and stickers for your photos and thousands of free icons
  11. You can invite members and create your own collaboration team
  12. A content planner to schedule your social media posts

Most importantly, Canva offers templates for all kinds of marketing collateral, from business cards to social media postings. You will find templates for all Instagram post types, YouTube content, Twitch content, Facebook, Twitter, and so much more.

The platform is very appealing for social media content creators and the latest feature.

Getting started with Canva is very user-friendly; you register with either your Google or Facebook account and follow the website’s options to create, which is essentially a template of visuals for you.

Once you log in to your account and explore design templates, Canva offers many articles and resources to help you find your brand and design identity.

These range from finding a color palette to style guides to help you best your brand or project; you have it all covered on a single platform. 

Upon selecting your layout and the template, you can then do customization.

Everything with Canva is about dragging and dropping, and it's easily editable, make it a very approachable platform even for people without a graphic design background, like me.

Recently, Canva added a design marketplace that allows graphic designers to contribute layouts and earn royalties every time their designs are purchased.

Canva Graphics Pro Features and Designs

If you want to bring your graphic design game to the next level – as I did – you can subscribe to Canva Pro for as little as 9.16 euros per month or 109.99 per year. Canva Pro offers the following extra features.

  • Create 1 Brand Kit and upload your own fonts and logos
  • One-click design Magic Resize
  • 420,000+ free templates with new designs daily
  • 75+ million premium stock photos, videos, audio, and graphics free-to-use
  • Save designs as templates for your team to use
  • 100GB of cloud storage
  • Schedule social media content to 7 platforms

Canva Pro Features I love

Canva Pro offers many features, so it would be impossible to list them all in a review article. It would be easier to write a book about them. Instead, I am going to list a few of my favorite ones.

Background Remover

Well, this feature is just brilliant in all its forms. Background removal is a must-have feature for any graphic design tool, and Canva does it really well. Canva is not just limited to exporting your graphic designs with a transparent background.

It also has its own background remover, which has worked very well for me so far, and it even lets you use an erase and a restore brush to manually perfect the background removal.

You will find many free online tools for background removal, but as images or photos get more complex, their algorithm starts missing things. I have not encountered this even once with Canva for the past 8 months I've been using it. Getting it right without human input is what makes it the icing on the cake.

To do all this, you have to create a new design and select “Edit Photo,” upload your photo and then from the tool menu select effects. Background remover is the first one on the list.

Meanwhile, producing an image with a transparent background based on your design is even simpler; when you are ready to press “Download” for your design, you can select the “Transparent Background” option.

This is a different feature than background removal, though. It ignores the canvas behind the elements you have added to your design, along with the background image you have set. It won't remove pre-existing backgrounds from your elements.

background removal canva before background removal canva after

The best part about the whole process, though, is that you can remove the background of every individual element in Canva by selecting the element itself and going to “Effects” -> “Background Remover.” Just see the example below:

double background removal canva before double backround remover canva after

With Canva Free, you can share your work for viewing or for editing. This is already great, but any editing performed will alter your graphic design. With Canva Pro, you can share a link to use as a template, which means that you share the template for editing without altering the original design, allowing you to sell your designs easily.

share link as template canva
Canva's share link options

The Variety of Styles, Fonts, Graphic Elements and Effects

Canva Pro comes full of styles, fonts, and features. The styles provide ready-to-use color palettes to apply to your design. While the number of available fonts is ridiculous, my favorites among these four are graphic elements and effects. Most of my post featured images in this blog are altered with effects provided by Canva.

All images or infographics I have created myself use graphic elements directly from Canva Pro, and you can see that the more I use Canva, the more the quality improves.

Granted, there are never enough elements to satisfy the end-user, but the library keeps expanding, so I'm thrilled with it overall.

Templates for Pretty Much Everything

Below I have listed just a few of the content templates Canva offers. Make no mistake; these are just the tip of the iceberg. Even for just social media, the list is endless, far more than what an average user needs. The template library is just impressive.

Social Media Personal Business Marketing
Instagram Stories, Posts, Reels, Ads, and more
Facebook Posts, Covers, Videos, Ads and more
YouTube Channel Art, Thumbnails, Ads and more
LinkedIn Banners
Photo Collages
Invitations
Cards
Resumes
Postcards
Weekly Schedule Planners
T-Shirts
Presentations
Websites
Logos
Business Cards
Invoices
Business Letterheads
Book Covers
Posters
Website Banners
Flyers
Infographics
Brochures
Newsletters
Proposals

Canva Graphic Design Pro Feature – Canva Content Planner

This is a massive 2021 improvement over the previous versions of Canva. A content planner is a must-have feature for content creators and influencers, especially those on social media.

In the past, you would have to download a Canva design and use another content planner, like Later or Tailwind, to schedule your posts.

These times are now gone… for the most part, at least.

With Canva Pro's Content Planner, you can share your designs and images to:

  • Twitter
  • an Instagram Business account
  • a Facebook Page
  • a Facebook Group
  • Pinterest
  • a LinkedIn Page
  • Slack
  • Tumblr

Canva's Content Planner is definitely great as it makes life easier for everyone. One omission from the above list is Tik Tok, but I don't think it's a major one.

However, Canva Pro's Content Planner is limited to posts. Consequently, you cannot share Facebook and Instagram stories or Instagram Reels videos with it at the moment. Keep in mind that Canva offers templates to create such content and so much more. However, it has most types of social media post templates covered.

You just can't share them with the Content Planner just yet. Keep also in mind that sharing animated designs will instead share a static image of the design.

Finally, typically Content Planners offer some hashtag auto-completion and allow tagging so that you want to open the app or the website to find the right hashtags or user tags. Canva's Content Planner does not include such features yet, so it still has some way to go in terms of quality of life features.

So, Canva's Content Planner is not ready to replace advanced content scheduling platforms just yet. I still use it for all the content it supports, but I would like to see it make other platforms completely redundant for Canva Pro users.

In that sense I would not recommend that you use Canva to schedule posts to Instagram, for instance.

Missing Canva Features or Features to Improve

There are also a few things I don't like about Canva, and they are definitely worth mentioning.

Canva is Not Ideal for Flow Charts

Canva offers SVG graphic elements, which means they are very to resize and scale without ruining the quality of the graphic elements. However, what it can't do is manipulate elements like arrows, bubbles similarly to a tool like Lucidchart or Microsoft Powerpoint. I'm not sure this is a use case for Canva, but I don't it's too far-fetched to ask for advanced features like these.

Still, it would definitely require a different approach and framework as resizing while maintaining the aspect ratio is very different than manipulating elements and transforming them.

For instance, in Canva, you cannot select a straight arrow element and curve it or add angles, you have to select a pre-existing curved or angled one, and you can only resize it while maintaining its ratio. If I were looking for a tool for flow charts, I would look elsewhere.

Stock Photos are Hit and Miss

To begin with, this is really not an indictment on Canva as top-quality stock photos cost the price of 3 or 4 Canva annual subscriptions each. Canva has acquired Pexels and Pixabay, which contain over 1,000,000 images combined. This brings Canva's stock image offerings to more than 60 million.

However, there are times when I'm impressed that I can find on Canva, while other times I can't find high-quality images of stuff that I would expect to be available.

I expect the stock photo library to improve over the years, and I may be overstretching with this one, but improving the variety of stock photos would make Canva a bang for the buck tool.

Canva Does Not Offer Spell Checking

Maybe for some readers, this is too far-fetched, but a lot of Canva templates are ideal for long-form text, so a spell checker would make everyone's life easier.

While Canva does not include a spell-check feature, internet browsers like Chrome have an inherent spell checker that you can use. You can go even further, like I do, and use a browser extension like Grammarly's to spell check anything you type in your graphics.

I have not encountered any issues with it so far, and even the free version of Grammarly will cover your spell-checking needs. Thankfully, the way Canva is structured allows spell-checkers to run on all your content, including the Canva Content Planner.

Canva Design Templates Overview

Just basing this review on the number of different template types and the sheer quantity would be enough to give Canva an excellent grade.

  1. Posters: Holiday event poster templates, Social and Heatlh Awareness templates (from Drug Awareness to Breast Cancer awareness), you will probably find something to give you a head start for your next poster design.
  2. Logos: Canva Pro offers a vast array of free logo designs from badges, to computer and tech logos, fashion logos, even event logos
  3. Website: This one is just amazing. With Canva you can publish very simple personal websites based on templates, even mobile-first websites. You can even publish your personal Bio Link website based on a Canva template and completely control its design and aesthetics. Such features that actually save you money (just like the content planner) are invaluable for me.
  4. Presentations: Professional presentation templates for Business, Portfolio, Architecture, Keynotes, Startups, Brand Guidelines. You will find them for free in Canva.
  5. Invoices: Yes, invoices. Professionally designed invoices for you to customize and personalize for your Brand are available for free with Canva.
  6. Flyers: Flyers to personalize for your brand, for concerts, cleaning, clubs, even babysitting!
  7. Cards: Some great templates of cards for individuals in all industries are readily available for your personalization.
  8. Mugs, Canva Prints, T-Shirts: For twitch streamers and photographers like me and other content creators who want to design their own merchandise, these templates can help you kickstart your merch.
  9. Postcards: These are very cute to begin with, you can make them even cuter with your own photos.
  10. Infographics: Another great category for bloggers, marketers and many more professionals. Combined with the variety of styles, fonts and elements, Canva has you covered.
  11. Invitations: Customizable event invitations that you can use for print or digital invites. Great for the age of COVID-19.
  12. Resumes: If you resume aesthetics need polishing, Canva definitely has the solution.
  13. Menus: You will find templates for all kinds of food ventures, from bakeries and cafes, to clubs and BBQ menus.
  14. Magazine,book, album and ebook covers: Both for individual artists and editor teams, you will find a ton of quality templates to customize
  15. Certificates: For awards, online courses and any other certifications, here you will find everything you need.
  16. Business Cards: Designing your own business cards with Canva will be a breeze.
  17. Bookmarks: This goes to show you how creative Canva is in its templates.
Canva design template recommendation page
Canva's design template recommendation page

Canva will structure its recommended template categories based on your personal use.

For instance, since I mostly post on social media, the web app recommends social media content, but you can easily use the search bar to search for any other design template.

Canva's Design Editor Page

Once you select a design category, say Facebook post, or start a custom design, Canva will take you to the design editor page. So, this is where the magic happens in Canva.

The impressive catalog of design templates is what will incredibly boost your Canva experience, as you never have to start from scratch in your designs.

canva design editor page

The tools on the left bar offer you a plethora of editing options. Let's see them one by one.

  1. Templates: Here you can select a template for your design to start customizing.
  2. Uploads: You can upload your own design and photos to expand the already vast array of content Canva provides you. You can then search for any of your uploads and add it to a new design.
  3. Photos: Here you can search for stock photos available on the free and/or pro plan. You can set the orientation and the color photos you are looking for too.
  4. Elements: This section provides you with stickers, shapes, frames, arrows and so many more design elements to enhance your design.
  5. Text: You can use “Text” to add headings, subheadings, or body texts to your design. The feature also provides some great font combinations for different design purposes.
  6. Styles: This is where you will find numerous palettes and font combinations for your designs. I love this feature as the right color palette can completely transform your design.
  7. Audio: You can also add audio to your Canva designs. You will find plenty of royalty-free audio options.
  8. Videos: Here you will find clips to add to your design that start from 5s and can get up to a minute long. These include Aerial Shots, Backgrounds, Business, Nature, Fashion, or Food-themed videos and so many more categories.
  9. Backgrounds: If you are looking for magnificent backgrounds for your design, Canva has you already covered.
  10. Folders: With “Folders” you can organize your designs, the templates you liked or purchased, along with the designs shared with you in any way you want.
  11. More: This section is where you will find options for charts, along with apps and integration. Canva offers integration with Pexels, Pixabay, Instagram, Facebook, Google Drive, YouTube, Box, Dropbox, GIPHY, Emoji, Embeds, Flickr, Bitmoji and many more. One of my favorite integrations is Brandfetch, as it offers free logos for most popular brands to use in your designs.

Customize Design Templates with Canva's Editor

Ready-made design templates are just one part of the equation. Then come the unlimited customization options Canva offers. Not only that, but it also makes design modifications accessible to everyone.

Essentially, most of your workflow will rely on drag ‘n' drop, resizing, and applying effects Canva's effects and styles.

Graphic design expertise will help you produce better designs without a doubt, but the technical expertise required by Canva and the learning curve appeal to everyone.

In simple words, Canva offers graphic design for the masses. And that's what makes it extraordinary.

canva design customization tools page

After importing an existing design template to the Canva Editor, you can start modifying the design template to accommodate it to your business needs.

Design customization is very granular in Canva.

For instance, electing a graphic element will allow you to apply graphic effects and filters to it, adjust visual parameters like brightness, contrast, tint, saturation, and more, crop, flip, or even animate the element.

Furthermore, you can also push elements backward and forward on the canvas, align them with the corners, alter each element's transparency, or even add it to a group with other elements to edit together or add an external link to the element.

Canva Pro Pricing

First of all, you can upgrade to Canva Pro for $12.99 or 11.99€ per month.

The annual Pro plan costs $119.99 or 109.99€ per year, equivalent to $9.99 or 9.16€ per month with annual billing. Practically, switching to the annual Canva Pro plan gets you three months of Canva Pro for free.

Canva is cheaper than its direct competitors like PicMonkey, Stencil, and Snappa, offering many more templates and photos.

It is also one of only two tools that offer a brand kit.

Moreover, Canva's free trial period is unparalleled. Just make sure to cancel before the 30-day trial period so that you won't get charged.

Finally, the cheaper options are essential services that try to imitate Canva. Still, they don't offer the same user experience, while their content libraries are only a fraction of what Canva offers.

Tool Pricing Templates Photos Brand kit Free trial
Canva $12.95 250,000+ 60M yes 30 days
PicMonkey $12.99 2400+ 1M yes 7 days
Stencil $15.00 1000+ 2M no
Snappa $15.00 5000+ 3M no
Crello $9.99 30000+ 0.5M no 14 days
Fotor $8.99 10000+ no
FotoJet $6.99 800+ 1M no 7 days

Canva also offers an Enterprise plan for Business which costs $30.00 or 27.00€ per person every month. This is ideal for businesses and teams, of course.

Should You Use Canva Pro?

To conclude our Canva review, this question has to be addressed. Do you really need more than just the free version?

Answering this question is not easy as it really depends on an individual's or team's graphic design needs. I believe that most people should use Canva Free for their online graphic design needs, especially beginners.

Whether you need to upgrade to Pro depends on the amount of graphic design you need to produce and, along with the variety in design templates, stock photos, and graphic elements you are looking for.

Personally, I believe Canva Pro's appeal comes in its simplicity and ease of use, along with the numerous features it provides.

A desktop graphic design application like Adobe Illustrator will definitely offer more features, but it will be both a pricier and more complex option.

In my mind, Canva is ideal for content creators who cannot afford a professional graphic designer but want to maximize the potential of their own designs with a tool that offers most of the required modern features while it remains easy to use.

Canva will greatly boost your productivity compared to other tools in the market.

Since I use Canva Pro myself, I can assure you that I have not even scratched the surface of what I can create with it.

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