Graphic design is hard. Hard for most of us anyway. It takes a special combination of technical savvy, a sharp eye for what looks good and an artist’s creative touch. Yet many of us are called upon to be graphic designers all the time, whether we like it or not. For example, companies require:
• PowerPoint presentations
• Blogging
• Newsletters and e-newsletters
• Reports of all kinds
• Flyers and posters

canvaIn short, good graphics are in demand for several reasons. They supplement what audiences hear. They grab what readers or visitors to websites see by breaking up blocks of text, they promote the company brand, and they demonstrate professionalism.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative: Canva

For those who are not trained graphic designers, many turn to programs like (gasp!) Microsoft Paint, or overwhelmingly feature-rich, complex and expensive software like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, or even borrow images from Google searches.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative—a new tool from an Australian startup called Canva. Canva came out in the second half of 2013 and has quickly assembled a following. Using Canva to create great graphics is easy—just go to canva.com, pick a template, choose from their image database or import your own, throw the design elements onto the template, tweak your final product and download to your PC. It’s that easy. And it’s free, too. (Images from the Canva gallery are just $1 each.)

Canva is great to use because it incorporates good design techniques into every step of the process. Unless you decide to uber-tweak your design, you really can’t go wrong. This tool is so handy that former Apple guru Guy Kawasaki is an investor.

There’s a Pinterest gallery that shows a collection of Canva designs from the website The Smarter One. Give it a look. There’s no excuse for not using hip, professional graphics any longer.