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The Beginner’s Guide to Canva

What is Canva?

Canva is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) platform with pre-designed templates created by design professionals. It is an invaluable tool for any small business, entrepreneur, small marketing team, solopreneur, or student.

It makes customizable designs accessible to non-graphic designers. They have a variety of templates for every design need.

You can make a high-quality custom design. It is the perfect solution to create awesome social media graphics.

If you're wondering how to get started, you're in luck because I’ve compiled a beginner's guide to Canva.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to use the templates

  • Some best design practices

  • Tips and tricks from an experienced Canva user (me!)


Before designing anything in Canva, you'll need to have a basic understanding of your design goals. Think about who you are creating for and where your designs will be published.

You'll also want to decide how your intended audience will likely use your design.

For example, if you want to create graphics for your Instagram to promote your self-published book launch, first decide how many graphics you need to create. Then, determine the goals of the graphics (i.e. to entertain or inform). You'll also want to have a general idea of your design aesthetics.

What are the design aesthetics?

Design aesthetics are a core design principle that defines a design's pleasing qualities. In visual terms, aesthetics include balance, color, movement, pattern, scale, shape, and visual weight.

We won’t dive in too much about the different aspects of good design, so I’d recommend doing some research to discover for yourself.

Now, let's start designing!

Step one: Decide what you will design.

Open Canva. Choose your design type from the Canva homepage.

Double-check your document size before designing. I once made the mistake of choosing a poster when I intended to create a flyer.

You can also create custom dimension designs. Click 'custom dimensions' and you can input a project size based on pixels, millimeters, or inches.

Step two: Choose a template.

Select a pre-made template from the buttons on the left side. These are handy designs created by graphic designers to match a variety of design aesthetics.

You can also choose to create on a blank canvas. Personally, I think starting with a template promotes inspiration, but this may hinder someone else. Do whatever works best for you!

Step three: Start customizing.

When designing, be sure to purposefully consider reading patterns; size, space, and texture; typeface weight and paring; color and tint; and direction.

Your design can include text, icons, photos, or illustrations. Combine them in a way that is visually appealing and balanced. Make sure your design hierarchy is clear.

If you're using a template, you can edit directly in the design by clicking that element.

You can add stickers, frames, change background colors, add music and videos, upload photos, gradients, and more! It might be tempting to add more stickers, photos, or other fun things, but avoid overcrowding your design.

The same ideas apply to font choices. Don't make the mistake of using hard-to-read fonts or too-close together spacing. Canva has a spacing tool to adjust the character space and line space.

Another cool thing about Canva, it integrates with popular programs like Pexels and Pixabay to make designing even more efficient!

If you don't subscribe to their premium version, you should seriously consider upgrading. It's affordable and allows you to create brand kits with preloaded logos and color codes.

The brand kit ensures brand consistency. Plus, you'll be able to resize your designs and select a transparent background for creating product mockups.

Remember, less is always more when it comes to designing. If you’re heading down the path of too much in one design, split it into two designs. This is a great start to a campaign!

Are you looking for other great tips and tricks? Check out our most popular post, 5 Steps to Writing the Perfect Website Copy.

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