Canva Indesign

Jan 28, 2019 Canva has always had a digital design focus (although the founder came from the printed yearbook space), which has made their transition into print to be a flawed one for those of us that care about print quality. A majority of their users are oblivious to the issues with PDF quality as they just see an editor that’s free for them to use.

If you want to make money as a blogger or online business owner, design and marketing assets are essential to your success.

  1. Canva is a powerful digital graphic design software that runs on your browser and on both Android and iPhone: it allows you to create banners, flyers, logos, brochures, invites, letters, business cards, labels, websites, videos, presentations and many more.
  2. Canva is a webapp that allows you to design free materials This is the “rookie” in the graphic design village. Like InDesign, its main goal is to help you design many different projects, both online and in print. You can consult: Design your own calendar using Canva.

How essential?

The majority of my web traffic is generated through Pinterest, where I share optimize blog post graphics.

Behind the scenes, I often reference my brand guidelines, send a pricing guide to potential clients, welcome new affiliates with a promotional pack... the list goes on.

And then there are my email subscribers, who opted in to my e-mail list in exchange for a free resource that I designed.

Indesign

Since I'm a designer, I use Adobe software to create all of my marketing assets. But what if you're a creative online business owner and you're NOT a designer? I have good news for you...

You don’t need to invest in pricey (and complex) design software or hire a graphic designer to get this stuff done. You can do it all yourself using a free web-based design platform called Canva.

Skip to...

💰 Price🖥 Features✅ Efficiency⚙️ Web & Print Quality⚡️ Speed📂 Accessibility👍 Best used for...👩🏻‍💻 Conclusion

💰 Price

Canva: Totally free or pretty cheap.

The $0 price tag is by far the biggest pro when it comes to using Canva. However, there is also an option to pay $12.95/month for Canva Pro, which includes access to a few additional features. Since my entire business is built on selling customizable Canva templates, I opted to upgrade to Pro, but you can do all of the important stuff – like create custom graphics from scratch, upload your own images, and build multi-page documents – using the free version.

Photoshop: The least expensive of the Adobe suite.

Photoshop (paired with Lightroom, which is a whole other can of worms) will cost you $9.99/month, but there's one condition: you’re locked into an annual plan. This means you will be charged a hefty cancellation fee – 50% of the remainder of your contract, to be exact – should you choose to cancel the service.

InDesign or Illustrator: The better (and pricier) options.

Both InDesign and Illustrator are better options for designing social media graphics, worksheets, and the types of design and marketing assets that are necessary to run an online business (more on this later). But the $20.99/month price tag, combined with a pretty steep learning curve, make them a lot less attractive to solopreneurs.

The verdict: You get a better bang for your buck with Canva.

🖥 Features

Canva: The essentials, plus some bonuses.

Indesign

All of the basic features that you need to create professional-looking visuals are included in both the free and paid versions of Canva. As someone who spends 99% of her work day in Adobe InDesign, I gotta say, the updates that Canva are making to their platform rival professional design software. My guess is, Canva's mission is to replace professional design software for non-professionals, and IMO, they're doing a great job.

There are, however, a few key things you can't do with Canva, including:

  • Draw custom shapes or textures

  • Retouch or edit photos in detail

  • Blend, mask or manage layers

  • Write text on a path

Adobe: Everything. Literally #allofthethings.

Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator are all loaded with additional design features – but if you're running a blog or an online business, you wouldn't use 75% of them. Plus, Adobe software tends to overwhelm beginners due to the sheer quantity of buttons and tools available on the screen.

With that said, the team at Canva have designed their platform with a few really unique features that don't exist, and can't really be replicated by Adobe software. More on that next...

The verdict: Adobe has a lot of features, whereas Canva keeps it simple.

✅ Efficiency

Canva: All-in-one remote resource.

There are a few things that make Canva really efficient for solopreneurs, specifically in how you're able to access your designs, photos, fonts and other brand assets. Since the entire Canva platform is web-based, everything you need to create your designs is contained remotely on your Canva account, rather than locally on your computer.

This means it's super easy to reference or repurpose an old design, drag and drop a photo into a placeholder frame, or reference a color swatch or font setting to keep your brand looking consistent. Upgrading to Canva Pro gives you even more bandwidth with additional folders, and the ability to save unlimited brand colors, custom fonts and logos in the Brand Kit.

InDesign or Illustrator: Experience required.

Like Canva, you can save and reference your brand elements across Adobe software with the Library feature. Unlike Canva, Adobe doesn't offer in-app file management. Built-in font selections are included with purchase of their entire software suite (but they're not copyright-free), and there are no drag-and-drop features.

Generally speaking, efficiency within InDesign or Illustrator is determined by how comfortable you are working with the software – there are few, if any, shortcuts.

Photoshop: Especially inefficient.

Batching social media graphics, working with large amounts of text, or creating anything with multiple pages is going to take forever in Photoshop because you can only work with one canvas. If you care at all about efficiency and you need to create graphics, worksheets or documents of any kind, don't use it.

The verdict: If you want a commitment, try InDesign or Illustrator. If you want a head-start, Canva is the way to go.

⚙️ Web & Print Quality

Canva: Great for web, not for print.

The download settings in Canva are simplified, and limited to just the essential file types. This is fine for social media graphics, worksheets, eBooks and presentation decks, but if you're using Canva to design something for print, well... don't.

Canva documents are created and exported in RGB format (RGB represents the colours that are displayed by a screen). When you send a document to print, it gets translated into CMYK format (CYMK represents the colours that are transferred by printer ink on paper). Without the ability to specify the exact CMYK colour code within Canva, the printer is likely to produce a colour that doesn’t quite match your brand standards.

For small projects, this is nothing to worry about – but for professional print projects, like posters, banners, business cards or letterheads, even subtle differences have the potential to produce poor results.

Canva also exports images at 96DPI – just slightly better than web quality, which is 72DPI. Plus, text gets rasterized, even in a PDF, which exports at 300DPI. This means that if you ever need to scale your design up, even just a little bit, it's going to be pixelated. If you've got Canva Pro, you can 'fake it' by increasing the overall dimensions of your design to mimic a better resolution, but this doesn't replace true print quality.

Photoshop: Okay for web and print, but not text.

In Photoshop, you have complete control over the quality and colour settings of your design. But since Photoshop is raster-based, you risk losing a lot of quality with text in particular.

InDesign or Illustrator: Okay for web and print, with exceptions.

Both InDesign and Illustrator are vector-based, which means you can scale the dimensions of your design as much as you want without losing any quality – but beware, if you plan to incorproate photos in your design, they need to be fairly large, high-quaility files.

Note: In Adobe Illustrator, if your project has photos in it, your file size will increase.

The verdict: Canva is ideal for social media graphics and digital resources, but if you're printing anything, don't use it.

⚡️ Speed

Canva: Depends on your internet connection.

Since Canva is a web-based platform, your internet connection will determine how fast or slow you can move within the app. And just like any other website, dozens of pages with images and intricate details will slow it down.

In cases where you're creating an extra large or extra detailed design, I would recommend dissecting your design and combining all of the pieces together post-export with a tool like pdfmerge.com.

Photoshop: Fast, but inefficient.

Canva Vs Adobe Creative Suite

Since Photoshop is located on your computer, there's no need to be concerned about the speed of your internet. However it's not very efficient (see above).

InDesign: The fastest.

InDesign was built for multi-page documents and long-form text (like books and magazines), so creating workbooks or slide decks with this software is a breeze. Social media graphics are pretty simple, too.

Illustrator: Fast, with exceptions.

Embedding photos into your projects might slow you down, and managing long-form text, ultra-detailed designs and more than a dozen or so pages (like a workbook or eBook) can be tricky.

The verdict: With a good internet connection, Canva does just fine.

📂 Accessibility

Canva: Anywhere with an internet connection.

One of the best things about Canva is that since it's web-based, you can access your designs from any device, as long as you have an internet connection. There's even a mobile app, so if you're on a budget or your laptop crashes, you can still get things done with your phone or a tablet on-the-go.

This does, however, mean that you can't download or save working files to your computer – which is why saving a backup copy of your most important design assets it so important.

Photoshop: License permitting.

With Adobe, storing your designs in the cloud makes it super simple to transition between devices. The downside? Since Adobe software must be installed on a computer, you can't access your work from another device unless it has the same version of the software installed, which may require paying for an additional license.

There is also a Lightroom app, so you can do photo retouching on the go.

InDesign and Illustrator:

Same as Photoshop, but without the app.

The verdict: Both are super accessible, but Canva even more so on mobile.

👍 Best used for...

Canva: Digital projects.

Social media graphics, worksheets, eBooks, and generally anything that's intended for web use only.

Photoshop: Retouching and fine art.

Canva IndesignCanva

Photo editing and drawing.

InDesign: Long-form, text-heavy documents.

Social media graphics, worksheets, eBooks, print projects like brochures and posters, and especially long-form, text-heavy projects like manuscripts.

Illustrator: Graphics, shapes and icons.

Social media graphics or anything with minimal text, drawing and illustration, custom shapes and icons.

Canva Indesign

My Verdict: Start with Canva.

Assuming you'll be creating only graphics and freebies, and that you have no interest in becoming a professional graphic designer, I would highly recommend starting with Canva.

You might be wondering... Why would a professional designer recommend Canva over Photoshop? That's a great question! Here's why:

It's just as easy, if not easier, to learn Canva as it is to learn Photoshop from scratch.

You can do everything you need to do in the free version of Canva, and even if you do choose to upgrade, you're not locked into a year-long contract. Full disclosure: I myself have suffered the consequences of cancelling a contract with Adobe, so I may be holding just a little bit of a grudge.

Some of my favourite features in Canva, like the colour palette and alignment tools, happen to function very similarly to Adobe software.

While it's frustrating to be limited to specific image frames in order to utilize the drag and drop feature, the very existence of this feature speaks volumes as to what Canva is all about: empowering the world to design.

Oh, and one last thing... Did you know that Photoshop was not created for, and professionally speaking shouldn't really be used for, creating graphics and printables? People love to 'make it work' with Photoshop because it is the most readily available and least expensive Adobe software, but it was developed for drawing and editing pixel-based images – that's it. So, when designers give their clients the side-eye for using Canva (ahem... guilty), it’s important to remember that the next best alternative still isn't quote-on-quote professionally acceptable.

If you're still anti-Canva, I would recommend that you trial Abobe Illustrator or InDesign instead of Photoshop. They're a couple bucks pricier, but for the same learning curve, you'll get much better results.

The brave new colourful marketing world of content and social media is very demanding for graphic designers and marketing managers. How do free graphic tools fare compared to pro gear?

Those who rely on content-driven marketing these days – in particular event, trade show and congress managers – know the issue: In order to make yourself heard in the Grand Central Station that is modern online marketing, you need consistent, current and attractive content. And: That content requires meaningful graphics and illustrations!


Visual information is processed a lot faster than just text. The message sticks a lot longer when it is supported visually.

You may therefore want to consider visual marketing as an event organizer aiming to bring your marketing messages across. You are a lucky guy if you have enough graphic design resources or use of an agency… But mostly, these resources will be rather limited!

To complicate matters more, every network has its own rules and formats. It is not enough just to produce a creative visual. You have to adjust it to various formats and sizes, in order to get the most impact on Facebook, Twitter, Xing, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram or a blog.

Is Freemium Graphic Software a Solution?

Typically, event planners are all-rounders. It does make sense to have a look at special solutions for content marketing that are available to those of you who are less graphically versed and that are aimed at making graphic production for online marketing easier.

One of these tools is Canva.com, a graphics tool that allows the user to create template-based graphics for blogs, social media, emails or online advertisements. The basic version is free, and you can purchase various upgrades. A kind of freemium-model that we know from event software, too.

Together with our graphic designer Volker Albrecht, we took a look at the benefits of such a tool compared to pro tools like InDesign or Adobe’s Photoshop – and where the classic tools are still ahead of online services.

Where Will The Online Tool Beat Classic Graphic Software?

Canva.com was founded in July 2012 in Australia. Founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht came up with the idea for an online design tool when they realized that even graphic design students struggle with existing tools.

Melanie and Cliff developed an online platform that focuses a lot on professional layouts and the inspiration of other users. Since then, the service has been growing continuously, with over 9 million users worldwide (source: Canva.com)

By means of a very simple and clearly arranged user interface, you can use various image processing tools, combine images with text and use many templates that are geared towards social networks and online media – platforms that event planners use to promote their congresses, events and trade shows.

What are the strengths of such a service?

  • Let’s start with the cost factor. Canva.com is free in its basic version and provides a number of features to produce professional graphics. This version will probably be good enough for most applications. You want more? Switch to Canva for Work and pay 9,95 USD per month – which makes it a lot cheaper than cloud versions of Adobe software (starting at 23,79 EUR per month).
  • Images on demand: When you need a picture for a design, you can either upload your own pics (free of charge) or use the integrated image search engine and choose from over 1 million images that come along with the service. This will cost you 1 USD per design – a fair deal, considering that gives you copyright-free access to images for your layout.
  • Using Canva.com is very easy. Even event planners that do not have sophisticated online and graphics skills will be able to handle the design tool after a very short period of time. You’ll find a lot steeper learning curves with graphics software such as Photoshop or Indesign.
  • Canva is a web application, which makes it ideal for working in teams. Several users have access to and can collaborate on the same designs and layouts. Adobe has done a lot to improve team collaboration via the Creative Cloud, but we believe Canva.com beats the classic software in this respect.
  • Canva is a ‘speedboat’ with a straightforward workflow. Of course, software like Photoshop or Indesign can do everything that Canva.com can do. But they can do a lot more, which turns them into a bigger, slower ‘tanker’ solution. As Volker Albrecht, our graphic designer puts it: “I see it as a pro that the scope of functionalities is limited with Canva. Sometimes, you tend to use Indesign or Photoshop as a graphic designer for tasks that they were not meant for.”

Where Are the Graphic Design Classics Better Than the Online Services?

Canva Design

The big tankers Indesign or Photoshop can accomplish everything that Canva can do – and much more! Where are they a step ahead?

  • It is a lot easier to create complex, multi-column layouts g. for brochures using Indesign – this is clearly not Canvas’ cup of tea.
  • Photoshop is pixel-based and provides comprehensive features for image processing, exceeding Canvas functionalities by far. You can, for instance, use smart objects to automatically edit pictures in various documents and sizes
  • Indesign will leave the field behind when it comes to creating your own templates and importing images and text (XML import) automatically. You’ll need such functionalities when you create trade show catalogues or brochures that have to follow a certain layout pattern.

What Are the Alternatives?

There is a high demand for simple and specialized graphic applications. No big surprise that other suppliers have jumped on the bandwagon, too.

Canva Vs Adobe Illustrator

One of Canvas competitors is Wordswag. This iOS app is even simpler to use as compared to Canva, but it is more limited in its functionality. For 3,99 USD you get an app that allows you to create attractive visuals for social networks in seconds. However, the export formats are very limited. It is worth considering, though, for event planners that want good results, hassle-free.

Adobe offers some basic applications, too, that can be seen as Canva competition. The strategy is clear: Lower the entry level to professional applications by providing such free services.

Canva Indesign Free

Last year, Adobe launched Adobe Post, particularly for the creation of social media visuals. The iPhone app allows you to export a design in various formats (e.g. for Pinterest, Facebook Twitter, blog).

Canva Design Help

The big disadvantage, though, is that the app only works on iPhones, making it rather useless for professional content marketers. At least a decent version for iPad / iPad Pro would be nice to have, so that you can use it properly.

In a nutshell

The demand for visual marketing is getting higher and higher. Specialised apps like Canva, Wordswag and Adobe Post make life of an event planner a lot easier by offering the option to create attractive visual content without needing any prior experience in graphic design.