I work at a wonderful University with incredibly talented and creative students. Every day I see art being made, ideas being shared and students expressing themselves.
Whenever I was tasked with creating some sort of advertisement I felt like a jerk. If I had to whip together something and I used Powerpoint or Word, I felt like I was going to be judged … hard. As I walk the campus I see all this incredible work and then there’s an ad I made with a bit of clip art advertising an upcoming social or deadline.
Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve smartened up long ago and took advantage of the wonderful talent of our Community Advisors. They’ll design incredible, eye-catching advertisements in a fraction of the time it would take myself or anyone else in my office. However, sometimes you can’t utilize those amazing skills. Maybe you need to whip something together quick or it’s something that doesn’t directly relate to our Community Advisors work. Then what? Then it’s mostly been clip art and Powerpoint.
Welcome to Canva! A free, easy to use system that can help anyone create some eye catching material!
So far I’ve used Canva for multiple advertisements, work sheets, our winter training schedule, and working on an e-book!
The work I’ve created using Canva stands out among many other visual ads created with Powerpoint or Word.
You do not need to be a graphic designer to use Canva. While it helps to have a bit of an eye, you can do a lot of learning while doing, working with Canva. They’ve also done a great job creating some tools for the user in their “Design School” to get a better idea about design and conveying messages.
You can get very far with the free service. In those instances where you see something especially cool that you have to pay for, if you explore the materials a bit, you can figure out how to create a lot of it on your own.
Here are a few tips from my first couple months using Canva –
1. With so many options it can be tempting to use a TON of different elements. Try to limit the number of different items used. This can create a clear visual. Limit the number of different fonts, shapes, banners, etc. you use.
I aim to have between 1 and 3 fonts and I generally use 2. One font for the title/headline/etc. and the second font for everything else on the poster. Your title font can help convey the “character” of the advertisement while your second font will be simpler, clearer and used to convey information. Sometimes a third font comes in handy if there is another element on the page or you’re using some kind of exclamation.
With other elements like shapes or banners, I try to use only one type so it becomes part of the language of the piece.
2.Make deliberate choices. Maybe you want to feature some pictures? Do you want it to be one big picture or multiple smaller ones? Think about how colors mesh with one another. If you’re mixing black and orange, will students think it is some kind of Halloween event?
3.Take advantage of the copy tool. If you’re looking to make small edits and compare a few different ideas, use the copy tool to copy the entire design rather than tinker with it and then try to get your first idea back again. The copy option will duplicate your current work. This will allow you to see multiple different ideas rather than trying to remember what you like best. You can also save individual sheets in Canva so you don’t get stuck saving all of the documents when you go to print/post.
4.Colored backgrounds are a great way to quickly get your work noticed. If you have access to high quality printing on campus you can create some vivid images easily. For our housing deposit deadline I used a purple and gold scheme for most of our advertisements. It was always the same shades of these two colors. The hope was that anytime someone came across these posters in the halls or saw the advertisements on social media or on the screens on campus they quickly knew what they were for. When you’re looking to have a text-heavy document, a nice solid colored background can help the advertisement still stand out.
Canva isn’t perfect and it probably won’t replace Photoshop or any other higher end designing tool. That said, it’s very user friendly, quick to learn and can help produce higher quality work than most of us will make using the Office suite. So if you haven’t already, give it a try.
What are some examples of work you’ve designed using Canva?