Canva Makes Great Design More AccessibleNovember 18, 2013
by Erica Swallow
How many of us out there want to be Photoshop pros? Or capable of designing a flyer? Or business cards? Or images for our blogs or Facebook profiles? Or maybe just a simple greeting card for our grandma’s birthday?
The web has made learning how to use design software so much easier. We can now take online courses to tap into our creative sides or hire a tutor to snap us into shape. But the web has also given rise to software and apps that makes design more intuitive, the lastest of which is Australia-based Canva, a free graphic design platform that uses simple drag-and-drop, click-and-go, and search features to make graphic design easy to do.
“Canva makes graphic design amazingly simple for everyone,” says Canva CEO Melanie Perkins. “Design is really difficult and daunting for non-designers and there is now so much pressure to create professional quality designs, from creating a presentation, marketing materials, graphics for social media and even a resume. However, until now design was such a difficult and convoluted process that it was out of the hands for most people.”
“We want Canva to be the place you can go to by default,” says Perkins. “So we’ve made it free to use. You can upload your own images or choose from our library of one million premium images which cost $1 when you publish. We have spent a very long time enabling Canva to be simple to use. We want to enable people to take their idea and turn it into a design with as little friction as humanly possible. It has been incredible to see people responding so well to something we have worked so hard on for so many years.”
The concept behind Canva took shape when Perkins and Canva co-founder Cliff Obrecht were working on their previous company together, Fusion Books, which applied the concept of an online design platform to the school yearbook market. “Over five years, we grew Fusion Books into the largest yearbook publisher in Australia and also expanded into France and New Zealand,” Perkins says. “However, we always knew that the technology behind Fusion Books was more powerful than the school yearbook market alone. That inspired us to start Canva.”
With more than 100,000 registered users and thousands of designs being created each day, Canva is focused on making design as simple as possible. As lead engineer Dave Hearnden tells it, “We’re building a piece of Adobe InDesign, a bit of Google Docs, our own stock photography library, and a full publishing system.” Perkins adds, “It’s a huge project, and there’s a lot of innovation behind the scenes, which is all about making for an ultra simple experience for a user.”
So, what can you make with Canva? While the options for creativity are technically unlimited, the user homepage prompts a few project ideas, which include creating a document, presentation, blog graphic, Facebook cover, social media image, card, photo collage, poster, invitation, or business card. Once a project is started, the design dashboard is intuitive and fun to use, incorporating image search, drag-and-drop, element resizing, text input, color swapping, and all kinds of design goodness.
“We’ve been receiving some incredible feedback from all different types of people,” says Perkins. “We’ve had bloggers who are saving hours of time by creating their own blog graphics using Canva, designers who are able to spend more time working on what the enjoy rather than making minor edits to things like business cards, and small businesses which can create their own Facebook posts and printed materials to promote their small business.”
Based in Sydney, Australia, Canva is a growing team of 12, including co-founders Melanie Perkins (CEO), Cliff Obrecht (COO) and Cameron Adams (CPO). The startup raised a $3 million seed funding round earlier this year from investors including Google Maps co-founder and Facebook Director of Engineering Lars Rasmussen, Yahoo! CFO Ken Goldman, and funds including 500 Startups, Matrix Partners, Interwest Partners, and Blackbird Ventures.
As far as what’s next for the upstart, Perkins’ lips are sealed. “We have a few really exciting initiatives being worked on in our secret lab that we will be rolling out over the next three months,” she hinted. “However, you will have to stay tuned to see what they are. Our vision for Canva is to take all the friction out of taking an idea and turning it into a design. We have made significant steps in that direction, but we have a lot more in store. We feel we have only revealed 1% of our plan so far.”
We’ll see about that! But I’m certainly hoping I can one-day design my own blog, because this situation is just getting sad. Right?