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Canva: the best thing to happen to non-graphic designers since ever

Canva is the newest design tool to hit the market, and looks to be any professionals’ leg up in the competitive market, as it can set anyone apart either via presentation or business card. Genius!

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Canva – design tool loaded with tons of pre-designed elements

Do you remember the first time you used PowerPoint and were amazed by all of the creative themes it came loaded with, or the colors, or layouts? Do you remember that invincible feeling that you could go into any situation armed with a sexy presentation and knock the socks off of anyone? Well maybe you weren’t as nerdy as I was in my childhood, but you get the point – once upon a time, PowerPoint was the most creative and powerful suite of tools around, but business professionals adopted it and pillaged the potential awesomeness and turned presentation time into an hour of animated clip art that makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeballs.

Enter Canva, the newest design tool that has given me the same butterflies in my stomach as PowerPoint did 20 years ago, and after reading this, you’ll rush over to Facebook and ask if anyone you know has an invite to share with you since it is currently invitation-only and each new user is given five invitations to share.

UPDATE: Canva has provided AGBeat readers with a VIP pass to Canva so you can jump the waiting list!

First, watch this quick video below, and then I’ll tell you why it doesn’t do the tool justice.

Why Canva is awesome and I love it

First, I should note that I don’t know anyone at Canva, and hadn’t heard about the tool until recently (and yes, I begged for an invitation just like you will).

When you get into Canva for the first time, you’ll be able to create any of the following:

  • Documents (A4)
  • Presentations
  • Blog graphics
  • Facebook cover photos
  • Social media graphics
  • Cards
  • Photo collages
  • Posters
  • Invitations
  • Business cards

Each of these types of creations comes with tons of free templates, and while I usually hate templates because they reek of 1993 PowerPoint presentations, these templates are extremely modern, beautiful, and clearly designed by actual designers.

Once you’ve chosen what you’re going to create, you can select a layout (template), add some text in the pre-designed spots or on your own, change the background, and even upload pictures or have it pull from your existing Facebook photos (hence the benefit of logging in your first time with Facebook). If you want people to collaborate with you, even that is an option!

It’s loaded with a bajillion high-quality photos and images – there are plenty of free elements, but if you want a giant lion or a paisley background, you might shell out a dollar, which we believe to be pretty dang inexpensive (although we’d prefer a “here, take my $9.99 per month and give it all to me for free” model). But hey, they’ve got to keep the lights on!

Then, when you’re done, you can download your new image or share it on social networks right from Canva. Genius! The video is beautiful, but nothing beats tinkering with Canva yourself. Nothing.

Real life example

So after I stopped drooling, I challenged myself to make a quick graphic for an event we host in Austin every month. In 60 seconds, no joke, 60 seconds, I created the following:

bashh

It basically did all of the work for me – I just typed in a couple of words, changed the background color, and added a ribbon and the URL. Easy as pie.

The designs are all gorgeous, so easy to use, and a must-have for any professional who is ever going to have to put together a presentation, graphic, or otherwise. Really, truly, this is the most exciting thing to happen to non-graphic designers, and actual designers can use the tool without throwing up!

Quick photo tour:

So right now, I’m going to challenge myself to make a gorgeous Facebook cover photo in under 60 seconds, let’s see if I can do it (click any image to enlarge and get inspired):

canva-step-1

canva-step-2

canva-step-3

canva-step-4

canva-step-5

canva-step-6

It worked! Although I changed my mind during the process, you can see that the design elements are all drag and drop, and it even helps you with guides to keep everything centered. And now, if I wanted to use Ron Burgundy as my Facebook cover photo, I can – it’s even customized with a stupid catch phrase.

So go check out Canva and show us in the comments what you have created!

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Don Reedy

    October 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Inviting. Pleasing it would be. 🙂

  2. Brady Pevehouse

    October 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I requested my username, verified my email, and immediately got an invite directly from the website!

  3. JoeLoomer

    October 22, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Holy Crap! Check out their pintrest page too – requested my user name, but didn’t get what Brady got – hopefully I will soon!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  4. Brady Pevehouse

    October 22, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Darn “Chief”, when I get lucky I hope it is for winning the lotto…
    instead I simply get the Canva invite..
    I just sent one at you.. It is interesting and worth some looking at and trying out, the thing the article doesn’t tell you is, …. you do still need some creativity. The right tools only get you so far and while this has quite a few, it doesn’t come with a personal designer who can snap 3 times and it’s done.

  5. Lani Rosales

    October 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Hey friends, if you check out the update in the story, there’s a VIP link you can share with friends so they can bypass the waiting line!

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Business Marketing

Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.

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Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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