At some point in many of our lives, we have a need for something that requires some graphic design—whether it be a wedding invitation, an eye-catching resume, or maybe even letterhead. And if you’re like me (whose design ability stopped at the elementary school bulletin board), graphic design tools like Canva are a miracle!
Canva is a website that offers free and paid design templates, ideas, and art that you can use to create tons of different documents and images—from social media page artwork, resumes, invitations, business cards, and formal letters, to infographics, birthday cards, restaurant menus, and more.
To get started with Canva, you must create an account with your email address and some basic information. If you plan to use paid elements, you can add an account (or several), which Canva will debit as needed. There are also Pro and Enterprise options, which are paid subscriptions that open up even more content and some unique tools. Pro elements are noted with a little crown icon. The paid elements for the basic (Free) account are usually around $1 and are sometimes noted with a $. You can tell the free elements by hovering over them, and “Free” will appear on the bottom right.
For most users, the free account is usually plenty! It gives you access to more than 8,000 templates; 100+ design types (like resumes, cards, etc.); and hundreds of thousands of images, stickers, shapes, graphics, fonts, and more. You can even load in your own images!
To start a project, you can select a design style, which generates a blank space that fits the dimensions of the item you’re planning to create, or you can create a custom design by clicking “Create Design” in the top right and then “Custom Dimensions” from the menu. If you’re creating a custom design, you can select your dimensions by pixels, inches, millimeters, or centimeters. For custom designs, some template ideas may pop up, but more than likely, you’ll have to build it entirely on your own.
If you use a design style, you’ll be provided with a blank workspace, and on the left, you can choose from tons of unique options to use as your template. With very few exceptions, elements within the template can be adjusted—you can change the size or color, the wording, or you can completely delete it. You are also welcome to add new design elements, like lines or a fun graphic, if you wish.
It takes some practice to get used to how everything works, but the templates are incredibly helpful if you are new to graphic design. And if Canva isn’t for you, there are other resources that you might like. Microsoft® Publisher, for example, has templates as well as custom project capabilities. The Library has training videos for Publisher on Lynda.com and Universal Class that can help you learn to navigate all the different parts and pieces!
If you don’t have access to Publisher, you could try out BeFunky.com, which works similarly to Canva and is also (mostly) free. Or, you could check out several of the unique add-ons available in Google Drive, like Lucidpress (create designs), Draw.io (create charts and diagrams), or Piconion (a photo editor). You can find video tutorials about Google Drive and some G-Suite services on Niche Academy!
Last but not least, if you need some fun, funky, or fancy (or other) design ideas, you can always spend some time looking around on Pinterest! A quick search can yield thousands of examples to use as guides and many templates that can be downloaded.
I hope this little bit of information is helpful the next time you’re asked to make your niece’s birthday party invitation or create a cool graphic for a work presentation! I encourage you to explore these tools, and, if you need some help, the Library has some helpful tools and videos in its online resources, blogs, and YouTube videos!
Consumer Technology Specialist