Quickly Build Flyers & Graphic Documents With Canva

by Pat Hammond on Monday, September 28, 2015

Step Away from the Word doc

As a professional designer, I cringe when a client says that they use Word when they need to build event flyers or other promotional materials, and it has nothing to do with being a design snob.

No really, I'm serious. I'm not an Adobe groupie. I'll admit to a lingering addiction to Adobe Photoshop, but for most things, if a program is relatively user-friendly, low cost and does what I need it to do then I'm more than happy to try it.

Word does not meet those criteria. It is not cheap, not user-friendly and beyond the scope of word processing, it rarely does what you need it to do.

Don't bother to pound me with hate mail. My experience with Word stands on its own.

It's fickle and quirky and no matter how easy you think it is, using Word for anything other than it's original purpose is a crapshoot.

Having said that I understand the appeal.

When you're a small business owner on a tight budget you don't have the time or money to learn the ins and outs of an expensive graphic design program, so today I'm talking about the pros and cons of using an online app called Canva (www.canva.com) to make graphic documents like flyers and social media covers.

Try Canva: It's Free and Easy!

The problem most newbies have with commercial graphic design programs is that once they get past the sticker shock they are overwhelmed by the huge variety of unfamiliar tools that typically litter the desktop. With Canva, that is not a problem.

My only two complaints with the interface are that it doesn't offer layers like the more advanced design programs and some of the most important tools like grids, shapes, lines, icons, and charts are hidden beneath search. It's a curious oversight for a product that has put so much thought into user experience, but once you realize where they are they're easy to find.

Now for the downside...

In the video, I show you how to build a Facebook cover photo and recreate the Create Some Buzz! flyer from our contributor page in less than 12 minutes. It looks super easy, but there are some limitations.

My flyer was mostly text and the only graphic I used easily fit within the large content area.

The problem is that the free version of Canva does not let you edit your own graphics within the program. That means that all those super cool looking layout templates only work if a.) your graphic is the right size to fit within the frame or b.) your graphic is just filler and doesn't need to completely fit within the frame. (Meaning it does not contain important information and just needs to look pretty.)

Final Thoughts...

Canva will never replace a professional graphic designer using professional design software for your important print graphics, but it is a great way for you to quickly create a web flyer for your next sale or event.