How to Use Canva to Create Compelling Visual Content

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When it comes to attracting customers and sparking online engagement, strong visuals are vital to your content marketing strategy

At DelMain Analytics, we’re a big fan of Canva. This online graphic design tool is incredibly intuitive and allows anyone to easily produce fantastic visual content– no artistic background or special skills needed!

Bonus: Stick around to the end and we’ll show you how we used Canva to create the feature image for this blog post!

 

The Case for Visual Content

When it comes to driving online traffic, take advantage of every chance to clearly communicate your message and attract visitors to your website.

Companies incorporating visual content into their digital marketing efforts see conversion rates 7 times higher than other sites! A study of 100 million articles found those with images had twice as many social shares as posts without images.

One of the biggest challenges of creating effective visuals is the lack of time and resources. 

With everything else on your plate, becoming an expert at Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator or investing in graphics and images just may not be possible. 

This is where Canva comes in.

 

What Is Canva?

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Canva is a free graphic design tool featuring a simple drag and drop interface. The ability to produce professional images quickly and efficiently is this program’s bread and butter. Even those with minimal graphic design experience will find it easy to create beautiful designs.

Since launching in 2012, Canva has accumulated over 10 million users and it’s easy to understand why. Users can create almost every type of visual content, including:

  • Blog post images
  • Social posts, ads, cover photos, banners, and icons
  • Pinterest graphics
  • Newsletter images
  • Infographics
  • ...and more

Signing up for an account gives you immediate access to pre-made templates, images and icons (thousands are completely free and others cost $1/each), and hundreds of fonts. 

Everything you need to create great visuals for your small business is right at your fingertips.

 

Getting Started with Canva

If you’re wondering how to use Canva, we’ve got you covered. This program is easy to use and takes just 23 seconds to learn the basics. Even so, there are a few must-know tips to keep your learning curve to a minimum. 

Choose a Design or Select Custom Dimensions

When you start a new project, you’ll either:

Choose a Design

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Create your own using custom dimensions

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Important: In the free version of the program, you can’t edit the dimensions of your document after-the-fact, so make sure you’re starting with the size you need.

Explore Endless Customization Options

You have so many templates to choose from and customize to fit your needs. You can change the size and color of fonts and add background patterns or images.

This free tool also provides multiple design elements to choose from, including:

  • Grids - Grids help you develop creative compositions. They can be used to stretch images across your entire design or place multiple images together in one design.
  • Frames - Frames can be used to decorate your photos with bevels and borders.
  • Shapes - Think squares, triangles, circles and more! These can be used for borders around your page and text.
  • Lines - Lines come in various designs– from solid to dashed or even chevron. Lines are great for emphasizing your text. 
  • Icons - Icons are graphic images to help spice up your design. From common signage to popular symbols, you have many options to choose from.
  • Charts -  Use the charts element to display bar graphs, pie charts, comparison charts, and more in your design.

Share Your Design from Within Your Account

You can share your design with up to 10 members of your team and give them permission to either view or edit the design from within the site. You can also share your design to your Facebook or Twitter accounts directly from your account.

 

Free vs. Paid Account

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You heard us mention the “free” version of the program, so you might be wondering what you’re missing out on with the paid plan

The biggest difference in the paid version of the program is the ability to:

  • Resize your designs
  • Upload custom fonts
  • Organize your photos with folders
  • Access additional photos, illustrations, and templates 

Our Advice: Since the free plan has so many features, you’ll probably never feel the need to upgrade!

 

Best Practices for Creating Compelling Images in Canva

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Here at DelMain Analytics, our content team lives by the rule “show, don’t tell.” Just like your written content, your visuals should aim to follow this rule by finding the balance between sensory details and quick messages.

Keep our best practices at the top of your mind every time you create a design.

Consider Your Brand

Your brand is the personality of your company and how your customers view you. Whether you’re creating visuals for Facebook, a feature image for your blog post, or a graphic for Pinterest, make sure it fits with your brand: 

  • Use company colors in the design (use your company style guide for reference!)
  • Consistently use a certain style of image or use an image filter to tie together multiple photos from different sources
  • Choose fonts reflecting your brand identity (ex: bold, traditional, elegant, playful)
  • Place your logo consistently (same location and size)
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Use Eye-Catching Images

The images you use in your design will affect its overall look. If you’re using your own photo, make sure it doesn’t look blurry or pixelated. Look for images that fit with your design or topic, catch attention, and aren’t too busy. Whenever possible, use a .png file rather than .jpg

Our Tip: If you’re using stock images, always give necessary credit to the photographer. Or choose photos that can be used for free (without accreditation) from sites like Pexels, Unsplash, or Pixabay.

Take Advantage of Layouts

As much as possible, avoid starting from scratch on a design. One of the benefits of this tool is the many design layouts to choose from. Using a premade layout to inspire your design will not only save you time, it will also help ensure you create an effective and beautiful graphic.

Don’t Forget About Readability

On the site, you’re likely viewing the image at a much larger size than it will be seen by potential customers. Keep this in mind as you create your design. Here are a few other tips for ensuring readability:

  • Change the color of your text to help it stand out– on dark backgrounds, use light text; on light backgrounds, use dark text
  • Use colored shapes behind your text
  • Adjust the transparency or add filters to your background
  • Change the letter spacing or line height of your text
  • Don’t overdo it with too much text or too many icons, backgrounds, or elements
  • If you’ll be promoting the graphic on Facebook, ensure the proportion of text to image isn’t above 20%.

 

6 Canva Tools to Make Your Designs Better

Try the Grid Tool Shortcut

The grid tool helps perfectly align your text, icons, or other elements on your design. To show the grid, hit “command/control” plus “;” on your keyboard.

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Add a Box Around Your Text

If you need your text to stand out a bit more, try adding a box. Use the keyboard shortcut “option” plus “shift” plus “b”.

Use Font and Color Pairing Tools

The font and color choices you use in your designs matter. Take advantage of the font and color pairing tool to help you select options that work together. These are especially handy when you’re starting a design from scratch.

Crop Your Images

Resize and scale your photo and help transform your design with the cropping tool. Not sure how to crop in Canva? It’s easy and there’s even a great tutorial online.

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Enroll in the Free Design School

If you’re looking for inspiration or just want to continue learning how to use the program more efficiently and effectively, check out their Design School. This school offers a growing collection of articles, tutorials, and tips and is free to access. There’s even a library of design courses for you to choose from.

Try the App!

If you need to create a quick graphic on-the-go, download the app. You have all the same design features on the Canva app that you do on the desktop version. You can create awesome designs whenever (and wherever) works with your schedule.

 

Get Inspired: Our Favorite Designs

So what can you create using this awesome tool? Here’s a collection of some of our favorite images we’ve designed on behalf of our clients. 

 

This blog graphic for Reliable Emergency Shelters uses a strong and relevant photo. The underlined text adds emphasis to the title.

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We created this Facebook ad for EcoCare Pest Solutions. The creepy spider was placed over a background image for an interesting 3-D effect.

This blog graphic for Adam Greenman Law uses an iconic Portland sign in place of a title...and includes some added text to make it really stand out.

 

Bonus: Step-By-Step Canva Tutorial

As promised, we’re going to show you just how easy it is to make great images and graphics. Here’s how to use Canva to create the feature image for this blog post in 6 simple steps!

Leverage Your Content Through An Effective Digital Strategy

Compelling visuals are an important part of a strategic and holistic approach to digital marketing.  This type of approach is key to getting the website traffic and sales your small business needs. 

At DelMain Analytics, we’re committed to our clients’ success. Our team of digital marketing experts is dedicated to providing personal service, delivering data-driven results, and helping small businesses exceed their digital marketing goals.

If you’re ready to expand your online reach and get the new customers, leads, and sales you need, contact us. We would love to hear from you.