The Canva ification of everything

Mohamed Shalaby - | Mix

For a brief period of time, if you scroll through any social stream, you will notice that every image appears to mix together into a similar look. Pastel colors, simple lines, and minimalist layouts are the only way to describe it. Stylish serif typefaces are used to spell out memorable messages. There are abstract, geometric shapes and current color palettes used in each and every illustration. Instagram appears to have a hazy and filtered appearance to the photos.

It is almost as if the visual environment has been simplified into a single, uniform design. According to Canva, an Australian graphic design firm that has quietly revolutionized the way in which people all over the world create and consume visual material, it has, in a sense, become more accessible.

Canva was established in 2012 by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht, and Cameron Adams with the sole purpose of "empower the world to design." This objective was both straightforward and ambitious. As a university student, Perkins was teaching graphic design when she had the realization that professional design programs like as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign were too complicated and expensive. This realization sparked the notion that would later become her idea. What are the reasons that the process of making visually appealing material couldn't be as simple as creating a page in Microsoft Word?

Canva was born as a result of that realization. Using an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface and a vast library of templates, stock photographs, illustrations, and fonts, the web-based platform, which will eventually be accompanied by a mobile app, enables anyone to effortlessly create designs of professional quality, including posters, logos, presentations, social media posts, and other designs.

It was a huge success. As of right now, Canva has around 170 million monthly active users from 190 different countries. These users have together created more than 20 billion variations of designs. It is one of the most valuable startups in the world, with a valuation of forty billion dollars.

However, despite the fact that Canva has made design accessible to a wider audience, an unintended effect has been the diluting of creativity into a "Canva aesthetic" that is consistent across all users. A significant portion of the app's more than 55 million users rely solely on the platform's most popular templates and elements. This is due to the fact that the app makes it so simple to produce designs that are of enough quality. The consequence is a visual uniformity that can be seen everywhere Canva designs are displayed. It is as if the entire world has been engulfed by a horde of ambitious graphic designers who all attended the same school and graduated from the same institution.

People are not to be blamed for choosing the road that presents the least amount of difficulty. It only takes a few minutes and no prior experience to create a design using Canva. Small enterprises, students, charitable organizations, and other organizations that are unable to pay a professional designer can benefit from this service because it is quick, inexpensive, and effective. The appearance of an original design that has been painstakingly constructed from scratch is always going to be superior. Because Canva allows you to produce something that is almost as nice and is based on best practices, there is no reason to go to the trouble of doing so.

That is unquestionably a price that is worth considering for the millions of satisfied customers of Canva. An important question to ask is whether or not it is beneficial for design and creativity in general. In the same way that McDonald's has become synonymous with fast food and Ikea has become synonymous with home design, the templated approach that Canva takes is driving visual communication in the direction of a more approachable but increasingly generic means.

Social media, which is where a significant portion of the visual content that is created and consumed nowadays, makes the problem even worse. Finding a way to differentiate oneself from the never-ending stream of postings on Instagram and other feeds is the single most important aspect in determining the success or failure of many small businesses. The most popular templates on Canva were designed with the appropriate aesthetics in mind. After then, they were defined. As a result of the fact that social media platforms recognize and reward material that generates engagement, users have every reason to continue producing more of it, thereby establishing the "Canva look."

This presents a challenge for individuals who are attempting to build a distinctive visual identity, such as tiny brands, individual producers, and anyone else in this category. What are some ways that you can differentiate yourself from other Canva-created competitors when they all appear frighteningly similar? In spite of the fact that templates are helpful for getting started, they are not a suitable replacement for making deliberate design decisions that are led by a distinct brand strategy.

In addition, for the vast majority of Canva users who have no prior experience in design, moving beyond the template is a challenging task. There is little question that sticking with the premade solutions is more convenient, particularly since (at least for the time being) they perform consistently on social media.

The result of this is that we are confronted with a reality that is increasingly like a template downloaded from Canva. If you look for user-generated graphic content anywhere, from your Facebook feed to the flier that is affixed to the bulletin board of your neighborhood coffee shop, there is a good possibility that it will have that distinctive characteristic of Canva: Similar to a basic pop music that you can't seem to get out of your head, this tune is sleek, bold, and blandly appealing.

This is not to imply that Canva is completely devoid of any positive aspects.

Design has been made available to millions of users thanks to the efforts of the company. If a nonprofit organization needs a quick poster for their fundraiser, a Canva template will do just fine, even if it looks like a dozen other nonprofit fundraiser posters. It is an open question whether amateur designers are far better off with Canva in their toolkit than without it. However, it is important to note that not every design needs to reinvent the wheel.

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Mohamed Shalaby
Mohamed Shalaby
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