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  • Stephanie Audette Connor

Before You Use Canva, Read This

DIY Design Platforms—What You Need to Know


Since launching publicly in 2014, the popular design platform Canva has acquired over 15 million users worldwide. Companies like Canva and Stencil offer customizable templates and drag-and-drop interfaces that allow users to build their own designs. You can create for free or unlock more features for a small subscription fee. On the surface, it sounds pretty incredible. Unfortunately, along with the pros, there are some big-time cons to DIY design.


Here are some of the pitfalls:


1) Brand Inconsistency

Your brand's fonts might be unavailable. Or you might accidentally distort your font or forget to swap in your brand colors as you drag and drop. Things like this can lead to an inconsistent look.

2) Less Originality

Since so many brands are using these tools, your graphics and materials will be less original. Even if you swap out colors and images, the layout and base design will look similar to other brands' materials.

3) Your Lack of Expertise

Design is an art and a skill. Even if you have a good eye, you might not have a complete understanding of margins, proper font and image sizing, or balance within a layout.

4) Limitations of the Platform

The file output from these programs might not be right for what you need—especially materials you plan to print professionally. Similarly, they don't have the same amount of flexibility as professional software does.

5) Time-Consuming File Creation

While the programs are intended to be quick and easy to use, it might take you longer than you expect to create your designs.


Despite all of this, I often advise clients to use DIY design software in specific circumstances.





Here are some times when a program like Canva or Stencil is the right solution:

1) Social Media Graphics

When you have a limited budget for design and want to save it for the big stuff. In these cases, doing social media graphics and other small one-off designs yourself can be smart. Just be sure to follow the brand guidelines from your designer. Those guidelines include things like how the logo should look, the color codes to use for web and print, and your fonts and how they should be used.

2) Reoccurring Design Cases

If you need a digital PDF or another web-based template that will get updated regularly, DIY platforms can be the right call. You can have a designer create the design in Canva or Stencil so that it looks just right, and then do small text updates yourself to save time and money.

3) Collaborations with Your Designer

Tools like Canva allow you to share images back and forth in either a "view-only" or "edit" mode. This feature can be a lifesaver if you need to collaborate with your designer or another team member and don't have a subscription to professional design software like Adobe Creative Cloud.


As you can see, while investing in professional design is always going to yield better results, there are some situations when doing it yourself is a smart option. Wondering how to decide if it's time to call an expert? Trying to determine how to make the most of your design budget? Contact me today to schedule your free consultation call.

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