In this detailed Canva review, I’m going to look at all the key pros and cons of an increasingly popular app for designing visual materials. Is it right for your business? Or should you stick with a professional desktop app like Adobe Photoshop? Let’s find out.
Canva is an excellent design app and arguably one of the most useful tools a small business can have in its arsenal. It lets you create an astonishingly large range of assets — including adverts, infographics, videos and even websites — easily, cheaply and quickly. You don’t need much in the way of graphic design experience to get great results out of it.
In terms of its disadvantages, Canva’s range of output formats is quite limited, meaning that the projects you export from the platform can’t always be edited by professional designers using other tools. Additionally, no phone support is available and the options for backing up your work are very limited.
But overall Canva is a superb app that offers great value for money, and its free trial is lengthy and generous too.
Graphic design is a complex art form that takes years to master and often requires some artistic talent. If you, like most people, have none of these talents, you can still create beautiful graphics without getting a degree in graphic design. To that end, we use simplified online graphic design platforms that provide you with a user-friendly image editor and professionally designed templates for any purpose. The absolute best tool of this kind, available at very affordable prices, is Canva. For just $9.95/month (or 30 days for free), you can create any type of design within minutes. You also get unlimited access to a library of 110 million stock images, a feature that normally costs up to several hundred dollars per month. A good alternative to Canva is Adobe Express, although it’s a bit inferior.
What is Canva?
Canva is a freemium online graphics platform designed specifically to enable users to easily create slick-looking social media graphics, graphs, posters, presentations, logos, and a lot more with its drag-and-drop editor.
It runs in your browser, and as an app for Android and iOS, so you can work on any project across all your devices.
Canva also has an integrated stock photo library with more than 60 million images, videos, illustrations, fonts, music, and videos.
Additionally, you don’t have to start your projects from scratch – you can choose from hundreds of thousands of templates that are completely free to use.
Who is Canva best for?
Canva is best suited for solopreneurs, small business owners, individuals (for personal projects), small teams, and marketers with little to no experience with graphic design.
What makes Canva stand out from more sophisticated tools, like Photoshop, is the ease of use, which allows even complete beginners to create professional-like designs in a matter of minutes. This is mostly thanks to beautiful templates available for pretty much any graphic design use, from social media posts to flyers, logos, invitations, and lots more
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Canva is also great for anyone who doesn’t have a powerful computer. Powerhouses like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, which undoubtedly allow for more creativity than Canva, also require an expensive computer, while Canva runs in the cloud (you access it from your browser), so it runs smoothly even on cheap computers.
While anyone can find use in Canva, it’s particularly good for those with a low budget, slow computers, and little-to-none graphic design experience. For $9.95/month, you get a complete suite of graphic design tools that even many pros use to speed up their workflows.
Canva pricing (Free vs. Pro. vs. Teams)
Canva pricing is available with three plans: Free (free forever), Pro ($9.99/month per person, billed yearly), and Teams ($14.99/month per person).
The Free plan is free forever but has very limited features. Still, it’s pretty good and allows you to do most basic editing, such as using some templates, editing text, colors, and a limited number of photos. However, most premium assets, including premium templates, premium images, and other premium elements and features, are not available.
The Pro plan is used by most customers and is sufficient for individuals and small teams. With the Pro plan, you get unlimited access to over 110 million stock photos, videos, graphics, and audio files, as well as over 610,000 templates for any purpose. You can also create branding templates and choose brand colors, logos, and fonts. You also get the coveted background removal, resize option (which is surprisingly useful), the ability to create your own templates, access to social media scheduling, and 1 TB cloud storage. You get all these features for $12.99/month with monthly billing or $9.99/month with annual billing ($119.99/year). The Pro plan also lets you choose how many team members are there, with presets of up to 5, 10, 25, 50, and the custom option.
The recently-introduced Teams plan replaced the previous Enterprise plan. In comparison, it’s a lot cheaper, since teams of up to five members can get it for just $14.99 per month. Each additional member beyond the 5th (so, if there are 6 people on your team), costs $14.50 per month. The Teams plan includes everything the Pro plan offers, plus a number of additional features primarily designed to manage your teams. These include managing your team’s uploads to Canva; built-in workflows that let you approve drafts before publishing; setting specific permissions for each team member; unlimited storage; single sign-on; and 24/7 customer support.
|250,000+ free templates
|Everything Free has
|Everything Pro has
|100+ design types (social media posts, presentations, letters, and more)
|110 million stock photos, videos, audio, graphics
|multiple Brand Kits
|Hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics
|Control over your team
|Invite team members
|Build-in workflows for approval on designs
|Collaborate and comment in real-time
|Lock certain elements
|5GB of cloud storage
|1TB of cloud storage
|24/7 customer support
Over the years of using Canva for designing graphics, we have found some advantages that make it the best online graphic design tool.
Professionally created templates are one of the main reasons for Canva’s success. They are the starting point of any workflow, as they are available for any graphic you can think of – logos, flyers, banners, posters, resumes, invitations, business cards, video intros, memes, and much more. The biggest advantage is that they are created by professional graphic designers. So it’s like having a personal designer create all the graphics for you and you just change the colors and text.
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There are a variety of templates available for both the Free and Pro plans, but we have found that the free templates are often quite basic and not suitable for the projects we are working on. With the Pro plan, on the other hand, you have all the options you need.
2. Photo effects
You can access photo effects by clicking on a photo and selecting “Edit Image” from the top bar. This will open a side window with various edits, effects, and filters.
It starts with image adjustments, such as brightness, contrast, and saturation. You’ll also find filters that change the color scheme, but we have found that these often affect image quality because the JPG file is heavily processed. You can also create mockups by using “Smartmockups”, a filter that automatically turns your image or element into a mockup.
There are also special effects like pixelation, mosaic, crop, prism, screen, and color. We found the shadows most useful, which let you cast realistic shadows on any image. However, advanced editing options that allow you to create even more realistic shadows are missing here. In addition, most users like to use the Blur tool and the famous Background Remover, which does a pretty good job.
3. Unlimited downloads of stock photos, videos, and audio
In 2023, visual content is more important than ever and Canva leverages that by giving you unlimited access to its entire collection of over 110 million stock images.
You can browse all stock images directly from Canva’s editor by clicking “Elements” in the left sidebar and entering the search term, such as “office”, in the search bar. You can’t download the photo directly, but you may use them in your Canva design and download those.
Overall, the Canva stock images are quite good and cover most of our visual content needs, but sometimes we cannot find the right image. For those cases, we also keep an on-demand pack from one of the stock photo sites.
4. Drag-and-drop editor
The drag-and-drop editor is at the core of Canva since it’s used to create any graphic, from logos to video intros. It’s easy to use because you can move, resize, add, remove, and change the transparency of elements with a mouse click.
As you can see in the following video, we searched for stock photos of “students” and then simply dragged and dropped a photo we liked in the place of the previous photo. Then, we also changed the text simply by clicking on it and typing a new one using a keyboard.
5. Free fonts
Buying fonts is quite expensive, since each style costs around $30 and if you have to buy multiple, it quickly adds up. To simplify the workflow, Canva offers many built-in fonts, particularly those popular in graphic design.
If Canva doesn’t have a font you want, you can upload your own. But don’t forget that when using premium fonts, you need to have a proper license—illegally downloading them and using them in designs can get you in trouble. Despite having numerous fonts, Canva is missing some popular graphic design fonts, such as Proxima Nova or Museo Sans. For that reason, we also love using Adobe Express, which gives you access to Adobe Fonts, with over 20,000 typefaces.
6. Publish to social media (or schedule)
Canva lets you share graphics on all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also add descriptions, but you can not add features that are unique to social media platforms, such as location, tagging others, and adding partnerships. If you do not want to publish the post at this moment, you can share it with the Content Planner.
7. Content planner
Standalone content planner programs are expensive and overly sophisticated for what most customers need, which is a simple calendar that lets you schedule a post and add a description. And that’s exactly what Canva’s content planner does.
You can find it from the homepage in the left sidebar marked as “Content Planner”. Then, hover over the date you want and click on the “+” symbol to schedule a graphic you created. Alternatively, you can schedule a post directly from the editor:
- Click “Share”
- Click “Schedule”
- Pick the date and time
- Select the channel
- Write a caption
- Click “Schedule”
8. Brand Kits
Brand Kits are probably one of the most powerful yet underutilized tools in Canva. And despite being amazing for teams and corporations, individuals can benefit from them too.
The main advantage is that you can apply your brand’s look (colors, fonts, logo) with one click instead of manually searching for them every time. The Pro account lets you create one Brand Kit, while Enterprises can create multiple.
With the rise of video popularity in recent years, especially thanks to TikTok, Canva introduced animations to otherwise static images. Some of the most popular animations are Fade, Pan, Rise, and Simple, which coincidentally resemble popular camera movements.
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The animations have two distinct advantages: a) they can turn static images into GIFs or movies without actually having to create a video and b) a dynamic ad or post usually gets more attention on social media.
10. Multiple export formats
We love Canva because it allows us to export graphics in all the most popular formats for still and moving images: JPG, PNG, PDF Stand., PDF print, SVG, MP4, and GIF. All of them, except for SVG, are available even with the Free plan.
Through the years of using Canva, we found a couple of issues that disturbed our workflow, were annoying to deal with, or we simply missed functions that we’d love to have. Luckily, over the years Canva has seen numerous updates, which ironed out some of the bugs, yet a few cons persist.
1. Customer support could be better
We tested the customer support several times and were never 100% satisfied. Usually, it takes from 1 to 3 working days to get a response (so, if you contact them on Friday, you might have to wait until Tuesday or even longer). What is more, the responses often didn’t answer our question, showing that the assistant didn’t even read the request, which extended the waiting period another 24 to 96 hours.
2. Incorrect SVG display field
When you export a project as an SVG, the viewbox property is not properly sized, usually around 20% smaller. For most people, this isn’t a problem since SVGs are infinitely scaleable. However, it can be a problem for web designers, where incorrect viewbox size can cause sizing issues. We also notified Canva’s technical team about the issue, which responded by saying that they solved this, but months later, the issue persists.
3. Lacking gradients
The only way to use gradients in Canva is through vector gradients that you can find in the asset library. However, this is not very useful when the gradient colors don’t match your needs (you cannot change them) or when you need to apply a gradient to a complex object.
For now, the only way to use gradients is as any overlay. We’re hoping Canva will soon add gradient support for elements and text.
Image editing (but not really)
We don’t believe that image editing Canva’s con, but we noticed that most other reviews mention it among cons, so we decided to explain why it is not. First, Canva is not a post-processing program like Lightroom or Luminar. This means it cannot handle raw image files and it cannot perform advanced edits, but it’s also not meant to. Since Canva is a graphic design platform, you’re expected to use already edited photos and make only minor adjustments if necessary, which Canva is capable of doing. Adding raw format compatibility and advanced editing tools would unnecessarily complicate the interface, possibly slow down Canva, and change its overall purpose.
The bottom line is that Canva doesn’t perform image editing well because it is not meant to. If you need to edit images, use a dedicated photo editor.
How to use Canva
We’ve shown you all the most important features of Canva and now it’s time to put them to good use. We’ll create a simple promotional Instagram post.
Step 1: Create a design
The easiest way to start is by clicking the bigger purple button in the top right corner that says “Create a design” and choosing the type of design you wish to create. We picked “Instagram Post” for this example. This will open the image editor.
What is nice about this feature is that the presets are already properly sized regarding the resolution. Plus, you’ll get to use bespoke templates as soon as you create a design.
Step 2: Pick a template
As soon as you select your design type, you will be redirected to the editor, where you’ll be offered templates. You can always start with a blank page, but if you want to fully leverage Canva, we recommend using templates.
Relevant templates will open in the left sidebar.
Frequently asked questions
Is Canva Pro worth it?
Canva Pro offers everything a small business needs, and for only $9.95/month, Canva Pro is worth every penny.
Canva Pro download
Canva isn’t exclusively an online platform. You can also download it for Windows.
Do professionals use Canva?
Mostly no. Canva is the best for amateurs who want an easy workflow. Although it has numerous handy features packed into its drag-and-drop editor, it lacks advanced functions, which professionals need.
How do I get Canva Pro for free?
You can start Canva Pro free trial here.
Is Canva free?
Yes, there’s a free version of Canva which works great but it is quite limited. You will only be able to download 3 designs per month and you won’t get access to some objects, fonts, and images within Canva. You can start Canva free trial here.
Is Canva any good?
Canva is an outstanding online platform capable of producing beautiful graphics with ease. It is available on the web, as well as a mobile version for iOS and Android. You can use it to create just about everything, from social media posts to personal business postcards.
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Bottom Line: Canva review
Let me conclude this Canva review by leaving you with a piece of advice: if you’re looking for an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop graphics tool, Canva is the perfect option for you.
Why you should trust us
We only write tutorials for products and services, and Canva is no different. All our articles related to Canva, such as our review and the article you’re currently reading, are based on our experience with Canva Pro. The following image proves that we have an active Canva subscription:
We use Canva daily to create graphics for Photutorial and social media. We also used it to create Pinterest Pins, our logo, and thumbnail images for Photutorial.
This article is written by our founder, Matic Broz, who has been using Canva for years and has seen numerous Pro pricing changes, making him the right person to ask any question about Canva and Canva Pro pricing.