Canva vs Graphic Designer

By Sean White

Content Specialist

October 2023

Working in a creative industry like marketing, I thought I was given an easy assignment when I was challenged to create a flyer using Canva to see how it stacks up against a living and breathing Graphic Designer.

But, it turns out there is a lot more to graphic design than stylish fonts and fancy graphics... 

Let’s explore the pros and cons of DIY design solution, Canva, compared to a real Graphic Designer.


 Why use Canva?

Launched in 2013, Canva made a name for itself providing free tools and templates for users to create their own graphic design assets from social media graphics to print materials. The program now has over 125 million global users.

An alternative to costly design solutions like Adobe Creative Cloud (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc), Canva enables users to DIY design including social media tiles, flyers, banners, ads, and more.

The program helps users save time by providing blank, pre-designed templates that can be easily customised by dragging and dropping.

So, how good is it actually?



Putting Canva to the test 

My Canva challenge: create a double-sided A5 flyer. 

I chose a template that reflects the CoBright brand (circles!) which saved me a lot of time. With my blank template staring at me, I was able to quickly drag and drop some CoBright images and apply our colour scheme.

Then I dropped in my content such as a header, logo, contact information and a trackable QR code (which I created with a third-party platform).

From start to finish, my flyer took about 120 minutes. I had to keep coming back to it as I just couldn’t quite get it to work how I wanted it to. 

Overall, I think I did a pretty good job. Let’s see what a real Graphic Designer thinks:


Feedback from a Graphic Designer

Trusting someone with 20+ years of design experience as opposed to my 20 minutes, I asked our Graphic Designer and Web Developer Gareth to provide feedback on my flyer.

“At a glance, this doesn’t seem like a bad attempt at designing a flyer, but the longer I look at  it, the more I notice mistakes,” Gareth says.   

“Having chosen a circular template, Sean was already on the backfoot working with a difficult shape to work with. While it’s good portraits, you have to work harder to make content work with circles rather than squares. 

“Some other mistakes that I have seen include the following: 

  1. Line Heights - Throughout both pages, I can see inconsistent space between the lines of content. Canva doesn’t have the best alignment tools and it shows—Sean clearly had to eye the alignment rather than being precise.
  2. Padding - With the circular containers of the template, the padding for the content is inconsistent throughout the whole design. An example of this is the white circle on page 1, because there is not a lot of space there, the text is bunched up in the header. 
  3. Justification - On the second page, content in the top left corner has two different alignments with the header centred while the copy is justified. You never justify your text because it can lead to gaps in the text which is what you’re seeing there. 
  4. Clashing Headlines - On the second page, the content on the top right corner is close to the header on the left-hand side. Clashing headlines make it look unprofessional and doesn’t provide a clear spot for the reader to focus on.

“A lot of these mistakes stem from the template. I can see that Sean fought with the template to try and make the content work, where he needed to work on the content to fit in with the template. Not having alignment tools or grids also contributed to the shortcomings of this flyer.” 


So, Canva vs Graphic Designer?

While I thought I did a decent job using Canva, after seeing Gareth’s feedback, I can clearly see this is not even close to a professional standard.

While Canva is easy to use, it is also limited in its capabilities. You’re bound to Canva’s style of provided templates and basic functionality, so what is there is what you get. 

Another issue is brand consistency. I used a template to get the circular look for this flyer. What if I wanted to create a social media tile next but Canva doesn’t have a similar template? Suddenly I end up with a brand that looks inconsistent across various mediums.

While Canva undoubtedly has a place and purpose if you’re looking at quickly creating basic looking graphics for social media, it can’t replace the skills and experience of a Graphic Designer. 

Graphic Designers have a vast knowledge of design practices such as typography, colour theory, visual storytelling and more. They help businesses look the ‘real deal’.

While it can be an investment to commission the skills of a Graphic Designer, you’re working with someone who has all the necessary tools, skills, and experience to produce great work more quickly than you likely would be able to. And, how much is your time worth to you?

If you need graphic design solutions for your business, chat with our team.

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