Want to know a secret? I have access to some of the best design software out there, and about 1/3 of the time I end up using Canva for my social media graphics. I have a template for my blog images in Illustrator, but if I just need to throw a quick graphic together for a Facebook post my go-to is Canva.
I thought I'd share a few of the tips that I use to speed things along and make Canva work for me, and I'd love to hear yours in the comments too! If you use Canva’s premium service Canva for Work some of these aren’t going to be as helpful, but since I don't use it enough to warrant the monthly expense I've found ways to make the free version easier to use.
Load up your own images (use PNGs)
Before you start laying out your first design go ahead and upload your logo and any identifying brand graphics you want to use. Make sure you upload them as PNG files (the kind with transparent backgrounds) so you can put them over any design. Also, with one of the recent updates you can finally DOWNLOAD PNG files! We've been waiting on this for what feels like a decade.
Save your hex codes
For each Canva project you create you can save a set of document colors. These won't cross over into another project, but you can make life easier on yourself by having your hex codes ready to copy and paste when you need them. If you worked with a designer on your branding you should already have a document with your color codes. If not you can ask your designer or use a site like Image Color Picker to upload your logo and grab your branding colors.
Use your documents like folders
After you create a new design you have the option to add pages to it or duplicate it. This creates a second design within the same document, or a third, or a fourth. Have you figured out where we're going here? I tend to use documents to save all my social media for the month. Create a new Social Media design, add your first graphic (saving your branding colors as document colors while you're designing), then add a new page. When you've created enough for one month hit Download and Canva automatically zips all your designs into one folder, which I typically rename with the month and year and save in my Google Drive social media folder for easy access.
Keep the fonts to a minimum
One thing that excites people about Canva is the ability to use fonts they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. I have to admit on occasion that even sucks me in and I have to talk myself off the “But it’s so pretty!” ledge. Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. As a general rule of thumb keep your designs to a maximum of 3 fonts: Two main fonts and one accent. If you can keep it to one clean, easy to read font and one more decorative accent font that’s even better. Always keep in mind your overall tone and branding as well, you want your social media graphics to be easily recognizable as being from your brand.
Know your goal
You aren’t designing graphics just for the hell of it. You’re designing them to help you accomplish a goal, just like the rest of your branding is designed to work for you. So before you begin creating anything stop for a second and figure out what you’re hoping to accomplish. Do you want people to know about your new email optin? Are you hoping to create a viral meme that will bring traffic back to your site? What reaction do you want people to have when they see your graphic? Once you have the answer you can choose one focal point for your design and let all the other elements play a supporting role in helping that focal point get noticed. You’ll be surprised how much easier and faster it is to design effective graphics with a goal in mind.
Your turn! What are your favorite Canva tips?