Canva Design For Non-Designers- 8 Dos & Don’ts

Canva has become the go-to tool for marketers and small business owners looking to create their own designs. And with the many ready-to-use templates, design is easy on Canva. But how do you ensure that your designs are on-point? And how do you make sure that they capture the essence of your brand? To answer these questions we have put together a list of dos and don’ts for Canva design. 

So, are you ready to change the way you use Canva for your marketing designs? Let’s get started. 

Canva Design – Dos & Don’ts 

Do: Use Canva templates 

On Canva you can start with a clean canvas and build your design using the one-page website builder. But templates make things so much simpler. Just by looking at the existing designs, you get an idea about the kind of visual elements you can use in your designs. Templates help you venture outside of your comfort zone and try something new. 

But when you do use templates on Canva design, ensure that you incorporate your brand colors, fonts, and other visual cues that instantly help connect all your brand designs. By adding your creative flair you can customize the template and breathe new life into the design. This way you have something unique to represent your brand. 

Canva template customization is easy. But when you need plenty of designs on a regular basis and when you also have to juggle other marketing tasks this might not seem very practical. Find that relatable? Leave it to the Kimp team and we’ll customize all your favorite Canva templates for you. The designs are going to be there in your account so you can always go back and make changes to them in the future. 

And with Kimp subscriptions, you also get unlimited revisions. So, if you want the Kimp team to rework on them to make minor changes or create new designs based on the existing ones, we are happy to help! 

Do: Follow design principles 

Designers have a knack for balancing creativity and design principles. While creativity helps them come up with unique ideas, the design principles ensure that form follows function. As a non-designer when you try Canva design, you should also have a brief understanding of design principles. Because without them, the design might not be as aesthetically appealing as you expect. Or the purpose of the design might be lost. 

There are various elements that design principles talk about including contrast, balance, hierarchy, alignment, and negative spaces. Each has a role to play and cannot be ignored. Therefore, when you start with a Canva template and tweak it to suit your style, always refer to the design principles to be sure that you are not creating something vague or ambiguous. 

To get a quick overview of the design principles that non-designers should know and how to use them on Canva, check out our other blog here

Do: Focus on the visual aspects of your design 

When we say visual aspects, we are talking about the colors, fonts, design elements like icons, and the photos that you use in your Canva designs. You might be choosing them directly from Canva’s library or you might have your own graphics to include. Irrespective of the approach, here are a few things to remember:

  • For images, Canva’s stock images are pretty good. But if you use images from other sources, understand the licensing of the images so that you do not violate any copyright terms by using the photos in your design. 
  • For fonts and colors, keep your brand guidelines as the reference. Without them, each of your designs will look different and this inconsistency leads to weak branding. For example, Starbucks uses green and Spotify uses green too. But still, it is easy to distinguish ads from these brands because of the exact color palettes and font styles they use across their marketing designs. 
  • For symbols, choose variations that blend seamlessly with the rest of the graphics in the design. For example, a random 3D star symbol might look out of place in a design with predominantly illustrated designs. On the other hand, a simple illustrated star symbol will look more relevant here. 
Do: Have your brand guidelines for reference 

There is a common misconception that you need brand guidelines (aka brand style guide) only when you outsource designs. The truth is, even when you have an in-house design team or when you do the designs yourself you still need brand guidelines. 

If you do not already have your brand style guide in place, the Kimp team can help you put them together. Here is a style guide that Kimp designed. 

Brand guidelines designed by Kimp

As you can see from the above brand guidelines, you have all your brand identity design details in one place. From the color codes for your brand colors to the font names and logo usage rules, everything is captured in a brand style guide. Therefore, you have a reliable reference for your Canva design projects. So you do not have to speculate whether the blue you chose is darker or lighter than your brand color! You can simply key in the code in the color selection area on Canva. 

Kimp Tip: If you have a Pro account on Canva populate your brand kit in your account. This includes your logo design in different variations like with and without background, color variations, symbol and wordmark variations, and so on. By having them stored in your Canva design account for easy access and your brand style guide to refer to when you have doubts about positioning or resizing your logo, you can consistently use it across your designs. 

When you work with a design team like Kimp you can leave this branding aspect of your design to the team. This way you can be sure that all your designs are on-brand. 

Do: Double check your copy 

Some designs are text-heavy, like flyers and brochures. And some need to limit the text content, like social media graphics, billboard designs, and web banner ads. Understand the relevance and keep the text in your design minimal.

For example, on your social media and digital ads, you can have just one or two lines of copy. Do not overload your customers with information. On the other hand, on the landing page, you can provide additional information. This is because ads often have a broad targeting and not all customers like to read pages of text in the first encounter. And customers who are interested in your promotion click the ad and visit the landing page. So, they will appreciate the extra details you provide. 

The first rule is to keep the text minimum. And the next is to break the text into sections and create an order so customers know what each text section means and where it leads to. 

Kimp Tip: As you adjust your text portions on Canva design, experiment with font sizes and line spacings. You would want the text to flow naturally in the design and the spacing should be enough to ensure legibility. Finally, the contrast between the background color and font color also determines if the text is easy to read. When you have textured backgrounds or tricky colors, making your font stand out might seem difficult. In such cases, you can always add box details to make the text portion stand out. Take a look at how the below design uses this idea. 

Designed by Kimp

When you are working on Canva, you can use opaque shapes from the library to achieve this effect. 

Don’t: Create visual clutter

Canva lets you add a wide range of shapes, stickers, lines, frames, and other graphics to your design. The sheer volume of options there might seem a bit overwhelming. 

Also, do not get carried away by the available options and add too many of them. Visual clutter is one of the biggest turn-offs in graphic design. When there are too many things within a small frame, customers might often not connect with the design the way you want them to. They might get distracted from the objective or they might dislike the visual strain. Either way, you do not get conversions. 

Like keeping the copy minimum, keep your overall design minimalistic too. Once your design is in place, try looking at it from an outsider’s perspective. Is there a natural direction in the design? Does the CTA pop out from the rest of the text and visual elements? These are a few things to observe to be sure that there is no clutter. 

Don’t: Work with templates that look totally unrelated 

Unless you are designing for multiple brands, you should avoid using too many different templates for your designs. When you choose a template you like, Canva recommends similar templates for you. 

Look for more ideas in the “More like this” section. This is where you will see templates that look very similar to the one you chose. You can choose templates for your other designs from these options. 

Another idea will be to look for templates from the same creator. On the creator’s page, you might be able to find more templates with similar visual styles. This way you do not have to struggle too much to create visual consistency. 

While it is a good idea to mix and match a few templates, avoid choosing those that are on either side of the spectrum. When you compare two or more of your designs for the same brand there should be a tell-tale connection between them. 

Don’t: Forget your audience when you design 

When you customize the template when you choose graphics to complement the message, look for something your customers will like. Something your customers will relate with. 

It’s not enough if you like the design. Your customers should like it too. And interact with it. For this, your design should resonate with your ideal customer persona. 

On Canva you can easily find relevant designs for your business by searching for your business niche and then narrowing down the design categories. For example, the below image shows a few templates you will see on searching for “kids fashion”.

You can further narrow down your options by choosing styles like modern, simple, minimalist, and others. That’s one way to get direction when you do not know where to start designing based on your target audience. 

Canva Vs Working With a Design Team Which is Better? 

You can tackle most of your design requirements with Canva. But there are a few limitations. 

  • You might need the help of professionals when you need custom illustrations for your brand. The character builder on Canva offers limited customization. So for a fully personalized character or illustration for your brand you have to work with designers. 
  • For logos, saving your design as vector graphics is recommended. This ensures that your logo design does not appear pixelated when you scale it up for large designs. To preserve the quality of your logo in both digital and print designs, vector graphics are preferred over raster images. But on Canva you can only save raster images. This is another situation where working with a designer might feel like a more practical long-term solution. 
  • When you have to create just one design, Canva is pretty good. But what if you need several designs regularly? And you have to reciprocate the idea onto designs for various channels like billboard ads, web ads, flyers, and more? Leaving the job to designers helps you save time. 

Despite all these limitations, working on Canva means that your designs are fully in your control. You can rinse and repeat your designs by changing just the text or specific elements to reuse the idea for a future campaign. To combine the benefits of working with Canva and overcome the challenges involved, there is one easy option – a Kimp subscription. With a Kimp subscription, you get both custom graphics and Canva template customization at a fixed monthly price. 

Customizing Canva Design Templates With Kimp 

Canva template customization is covered with your Kimp subscriptions. So, you can let your design team know whether you want them to work on the required design on Canva or create the design for you from scratch. For Canva design customization your projects are there in your account for you to view and modify them in the future. For custom graphics too, you get source flies to make changes at your end. Either way, all your designs will now be in one place and covered in one monthly bill. 

Want to see how this works? Start your free trial today.