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Canva 102: More on the FREE easy-to-use Design Tool

Watch the video below or scroll down to read the recap

The Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority (BEDA) hosts workshops to provide local and regional business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs resources to aid their development and success. This class, led by BEDA staff member Faith Blackwell, was the second segment of Canva 101, going more in-depth on how to navigate the easy-to-use design tool. To view the Canva 101 recap or watch the class, click here.

BEDA Executive Director Jim Spencer kicked off the workshop by welcoming attendees and showing them an example of something he designed in Canva. He showed the class multiple wooden signs or “nickels” that he made using Canva’s simple design platform, encouraging attendees that they can create so many things inside of the platform, not just flyers or social media posts. So much is possible through Canva.


Let’s jump into content covered in Canva 102

*News flash: You do NOT have to be a graphic designer to have great content for your business*

How you might ask? Using Canva’s free and easy design platform, you can choose from tons of ready-to-go (editable) templates that will leave your business looking professional.

Navigating Canva Review

Note: Canva on your desktop will look slightly different than on your mobile device.

  1. Canva on Desktop: The main menu appears on the left-hand side. Some of these menu options include Your Projects, where all your designs will be located, Shared with You, where designs you collaborate on will appear, Trash, and more. Your home tab will appear at the top of the page and holds Templates and Resources. In the middle of the page, you will see templates appear with a search bar as well as designs you’ve previously worked on if you scroll down. You can sign up for Canva (both free and paid versions) by going to

  2. Canva on Mobile: As soon as you open Canva mobile, you will see a search bar at the top with template options and recent designs as you scroll down. The main menu appears at the very bottom of the mobile device. These menu options include a Home button to take you back to your homepage, a Your Projects button to instantly take you to designs you’re working on and an additional Menu button. This menu button also holds Your Projects, Trash, and more. You can download Canva to your smartphone or mobile device by going to your App store.

  3. Tip: If you do not see a template you like or the one you're looking for on the main page, use the top search bar to look up what you need. And note, you CAN be specific, for example, if you’re having a Grand Opening for your business and would like to post it on Instagram, you can search “Grand Opening Instagram Post”.

Inside of Canva’s Desktop Editor

Note: We did not cover the Mobile view of the editor but rest assured it is very simple and once you get the desktop editor mastered, mobile is a breeze.

Side Editor

  • Templates - This tab holds various design templates you can choose from. Note: Sometimes you may choose a template that has multiple pages, if you do not need the other pages, you can remove them by clicking the trash can icon above those pages on desktop view or selecting the multiple pages view on mobile (will appear as layered pages in the bottom right of your screen with a number inside), selecting the page you’d like to delete, then clicking the trash can icon.

  • Uploads - This tab allows you to upload your own photos, videos, or logos to place within your graphics from your desktop or mobile device. You can go back to this tab to find everything you have uploaded into Canva. Note: You can open your files tab on desktop view and drag and drop a file into the opened upload tab.

  • Photos and Elements - These tabs hold tons of free high-quality stock images and creative elements (shapes, lines, icons, etc.) you can use within your designs. You can search what you’re looking for in the top search bar of these tabs. Note: A cool element Canva has is photo frames. Using a photo frame allows you to place a photo into a certain shape, so say if you’d like to post a headshot of you and your employees on social media in a circle shape, you can do that easily in Canva! Tip: Once you select a photo, you can resize it to your liking by dragging the blue and white guides around it.

  • Placing Text - This tab allows you to place text within your graphic. To place text within your design, click on one of the “add” options (don’t worry you can change the style and size later too). By highlighting the text, you will see customization options much like Microsoft Word at the top of your editor. Here you can change the font, size, colors, style, etc. You can also change the size of the text by selecting it and dragging its edges. Canva also allows you to align text, add a numbered or bulleted list, and change the letter or text line spacing.

  • Setting Brand Styles in a Brand Kit - This tab allows you to look through color and font schemes to help you create more cohesive and consistent designs. You can set up your own “Brand Kit” with your go-to fonts and colors. Note: This feature is only available through the paid version, Canva Pro.

  • Audio and Video - These tabs allow you to add pre-made audio and videos to your graphics.

  • Backgrounds – This tab holds various backgrounds you can use within your design.

Note: There are additional tabs that you can add to your editor inside Canva such as QR Codes, Logos, Charts, Folders, and more. These are found by clicking the “more” button at the bottom of your editor on desktop, or all the way to the right on mobile.

Top Editor (found at the very top of the desktop editor)

  • Customizing Text – As mentioned, when you click on or highlight text, the customization options appear at the top of the editor.

  • Text Alignment – This option appears at the top of your text editor which allows you to change the alignment of your text (you will see 4 lines appear, as you click through them, you will have 4 different alignment options). (tip: when you have elements selected and begin to move them around, you will see thin purple lines appear to help you know if its centered)

  • Bullets – You can create bullet points with text by clicking the bulleted icon at the top of the text editor. This will also allow you to create a numbered list as well if you click on it twice.

  • Text Spacing – This feature allows you to change the spacing of your text letters or lines. Click on a body of text and you will see 3 lines with a double-headed arrow, here you can change the space between letters or lines of text.

  • Position and Layers – The top position button allows you to change the position of any element (if you do not see this, you can find it by clicking the 3 dots). You can move it backward or forward based on where you’d like it placed. This feature allows you to control the “layers” of the elements inside your design. Faith showed an example using 2 boxes at video marker 15:34.

  • Duplicating Elements – If you want to duplicate any element, you can do so by clicking on the icon with 2 layered pages and a plus sign. (If you do not see this, you can find it by clicking the 3 dots) Note: Make sure you do not mistake the “duplicate page” icon with the regular “duplicate” button. To duplicate a page, this icon will only appear on the top right corner of your design page area.

  • Adding Links – If you highlight your text with your cursor, you can add a link to that specific piece of text. This comes in handy if you’re creating something to post on your website that may need to be interactive with phone numbers or URLs. Adding a link to a social media post will not be interactive as those posts are static.

  • Resizing Designs – Say you’ve just created a post for Instagram, but would rather it be for Facebook instead. Don’t worry. By clicking the “resize” button in the top left corner, you can either manually change the size, or search and click the size you need to change it to. This may alter your design just a bit, but you can always adjust it easily. Note: This feature is only available through the paid version, Canva Pro.

  • Renaming Designs – To rename a design rather than the name always appearing as the template name, click the name or box in the top right corner next to your profile icon and type the name you’d like. This comes in handy if you ever need to search for a design again.

Canva’s Content Planner

Canva’s Content Planner is a feature that allows you to post whatever designs you create inside of Canva directly to your social media accounts. However, this feature is only available through the paid version, Canva Pro. If you choose to upgrade from the free version, you can find the Content Planner on desktop view on the left-hand side menu, and on mobile view by clicking the bottom right “menu” icon.

  • This feature streamlines the process of posting to social media as you can create content and schedule it ahead of time to your social outlets. Once you schedule your posts, Canva will take care of automatically pushing them out on your social media.

  • How it works: Click on Content Planner inside your main menu > from the calendar, you can select the day you want to create a post on, once you select the date, hit the add button > you can either create a design or select a preexisting design you’ve already done > once you select your design you’d like to post, it will give you scheduling options (note: You can change the date and time you want to post by clicking the 3 dots next to the automated time) > after you finalize the date and time, click the “schedule to” button, this will allow you to then connect the social media accounts you'd like to post to through Canva > once your social media pages are connected, you can save the scheduled post and Canva will post it automatically for you.

Tips & Tricks inside of Canva

  • Locking Elements – You can lock elements that you no longer want to move around on a design, this is helpful if you’re working with multiple design layers and need the back layers to be locked. You can do this by selecting the elements you want to be locked and clicking the lock icon at the top of your editor (If you do not see this, you can find it by clicking the 3 dots). You can unlock them at any time by simply selecting the locked element(s) and re-clicking the lock icon.

  • Grouping Elements – You can select multiple elements to group them together. This is helpful if you’d like to move elements at the same time. You can do this by clicking and dragging to select them, or by selecting multiple elements while holding your shift key. You can also do this by selecting your elements, clicking the 3 dots at the top of your editor, and hitting “group”. If you are on mobile, press and hold an element, then select the rest you’d like to group it with. You can ungroup at any time by selecting “ungroup” in your top editor bar.

  • Click and Drag Selection – By clicking and dragging your mouse over elements, you can select them all at once. This is helpful if you’d like to move multiple elements at once as well. (You are not able to click and drag on mobile)

  • Rule of Thirds – You can use this to achieve balance in your designs. It helps to ensure your design isn’t top or bottom-heavy but is visually compelling and balanced.

  • Utilize your White Space – Having “white” or blank space in a design is helpful to a viewer, it helps your design seem uncluttered and balanced.

  • Create Posts that show variety – You might post a product photo one day, a favorite quote on another day, and a customer review on the next. Try to ensure you are putting out a variety of content.

  • If you make a mistake inside of Canva, like placing an element you don’t want or accidentally deleting something, you can just hit the back button at the top of the editor or hit Control+Z on your keyboard.

Design Do’s

  • Use unique good-quality photos of your products and services, photos that are pixelated or just stolen off the internet can give your business a bad reputation and cause you to not look very professional. To watch our Office Hours segment on taking good quality photos on your Smartphone camera, click here.

  • Use font and color schemes. Having go-to colors and fonts creates consistency within your social media and is aesthetic and visually appealing to a viewer. To view Canva’s helpful Color Palette Generator, click here.

  • Edit templates just enough to be more YOU. Change the colors, fonts, and photos just enough to be more unique to your business.

  • Place lighter text over darker backgrounds so it will show up better

  • Place darker text over lighter backgrounds so it will show up better

  • Stick to using 1-2 font types per graphic so the design does not become cluttered or confusing to read

Design Don’ts

  • Don’t go too text-heavy with designs, this becomes confusing and overwhelming to a viewer. If you need to say a lot to your customer, use your captions to say what you need. (tip: Instagram prioritizes photos that ARE NOT text-heavy, so be sure to keep that in mind)

  • Don’t use fonts that don’t go well with your brand (example: If I am a plumber, I am not going to use cursive or pretty fonts in my graphics or designs)

  • Don’t use stock photos 100% of the time, try to get your own original business photos taken that you can use in your posts and marketing materials. Allow stock photos to simply fill the gaps when needed.

Faith allowed attendants to jump into Canva on the spot and try their hand at creating a design unique to their business.


We offer free marketing consultations for businesses needing help with marketing, where we will help walk you through Canva and other available resources. We encourage you to reach out if you need assistance.


Let's Get in Touch!

Jim Spencer, Executive Director Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332 x 2405

Savannah Carabin, Business Operations + Marketing Manager Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332 x 2408

Faith Blackwell, Administrative + Marketing Assistant Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority | | (304) 902-2332

Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority Logo (The words "My Bluefield" underneath an outline of the Bluefield, West Virginia Skyline)

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