6 things Canva can do for FREE – and 5 things it can’t

things canva can do for free

Recently updated on December 28th, 2023 at 02:14 pm

Is Canva right for you?

Want to create stunning visuals for your business without being a design pro? Look no further than Canva.

Canva is a browser-based graphic design tool available for both web and mobile. It’s free, user-friendly, versatile, and cost-effective, empowering non-designers to explore their creativity. In a nutshell, it makes creating polished, professional material simple – for everyone. 

And it turns out this is exactly what people have been wanting. 

Canva has seen surging popularity, reaching over 60 million active monthly users and a $50 billion+ valuation. By now, more and more business owners are incorporating Canva into their brand design,  but it’s not without its limitations. Before signing up, look at what you CAN and CAN’T do with Canva.

These are the things Canva CAN do! CAN'T...

You CAN create more than images

Most people think that Canva is only for editing images, but there’s a whole lot more that you can do. Choosing from thousands of free templates, you can design all kinds of striking documents – for personal or business purposes.

Some of the things you can create using Canva’s templates include:

1. Social media graphics

The most commonly used templates in Canva are for designing posts and cover photos for Facebook and Instagram. If you post regularly on your socials and want to save time, these templates are perfect for you.

2. Event invitations

Canva offers a lot of options for invitation templates. There are tons of sleek, playful, and minimalist designs, and you can customise almost every element. So you can really let your imagination run wild when hosting your next event.

3. Business cards

Business card templates are a great shortcut for nailing that professional presentation. There are many layout options available on Canva, and they’re suitable for any industry. With styles ranging from casual to elegant, you control what your business card says about you.

4. Gift certificates

Do you have an upcoming promotion planned? Design coupons and gift certificates for holidays, events, or any other occasion with Canva’s gift certificate collection. Their assets have a fairly modern style, too – you won’t see that old clip-art Santa pop up!

5. Infographic resumes

Demonstrate your creativity and introduce your skills and achievements with infographic resumes. Canva makes a great tool for vamping your CV as you can freely move text and images without messing up the whole format of the document – something we MS Word users have always had to fear.

6. Book covers

Amazingly, Canva is also perfect for creating book covers! You can choose layouts tailored for a range of genres, then add or remove elements to make the design fully your own. For those looking to self-publish, it removes a big barrier – and a big cost.

You CAN'T create large professional design projects

Canva is a great design tool for businesses, but it isn’t for large professional projects (like for a magazine). It doesn’t quite have all the elements needed for creating a sophisticated design, which we’ll look at below:

In Canva, you CAN’T:

1. Design for professional printing

Downloaded projects from Canva export in RGB, a purely digital colour mode. What does that mean? The colours of printed projects might appear differently than what you see on screen. If you plan to print, you’ll need to use software that supports the CMYK colour mode.

2. Work offline

Canva’s constant auto-saving is a blessing, but it means the software requires a constant internet connection. Design elements and templates are only available online, so if you intend to retreat to a productive space and disconnect from the digital – Canva is definitely not for you.

3. Use unlimited free templates and graphics

The free design templates on Canva are limited – which might mean things get old fast if you use it frequently. Also, many of the elements can be, well, generic. If your business wants to build its brand identity, you can’t rely on Canva’s pre-made assets. Especially when you consider how many other users are grabbing for the same free icons as you.

4. Use stock images as part of a trademark or logo

While you do own the final designs you create using Canva, the legality around the elements used gets a bit muddy. The original creators, whether from Canva or a third-party contributor, still have a claim to ownership. Put simply, you’re only given a licence, or permission, to include their elements in your design – you can’t always profit from them.

5. Get custom professional advice for your brand

Although Canva provides a wide selection of design resources to help you create visually appealing content, it cannot offer personalised design advice tailored to your brand’s unique needs and style. Customised designs can greatly enhance your brand image, and a professional designer can provide expert guidance and insights to help you achieve this.

The verdict

While Canva may not have all the design elements needed for complex projects, it’s still an excellent tool for individuals and small businesses to create simple and engaging visuals. It’s easy to use and saves time, especially for quick and dirty design projects. Moreover, it has a fairly robust free version, so you don’t always need to fork out the cash for a paid licence.

However, you’ll need editing software like Photoshop to succeed with larger projects. And for some businesses, this isn’t an option. Not everyone has the resources to justify buying the suite of software required to pull off a major design project. For those businesses, the best option is to engage a marketing and design company. It’ll save time and a great deal of frustration in the long run.

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