As software developers communication is a key skill. We not only communicate with code, but also we document, share and present ideas on a daily basis.
Personally I take pride in preparing documents, diagrams and presentations to share architectures, processes, designs and ideas. I sometimes tend to spend more time than needed 🙂
I want to share with you my favorite tool I use to help me create these assets.
Canva is an online editor created to enable non visual designers to create professional looking assets in no time. It is based on a freemium model, but so far I haven’t needed to use any of their paid services (and I have been using it for more than 8 years!).
How does it work?
After you create an account you will see a gallery of options to create a new design:
It has dimensions for most of the common formats (including a lot of social media apps) and also allows you to define custom dimensions.
When creating a new design, it will open a new tab with a full drag & drop editor
The editor comes with a palette that has multiple options:
- Templates: pick custom predefined designs for the format selected
- Photos: Frames to quickly add photos. This is one of the killer features
- Elements: Any type of elements, stickers, assets. I tend to use search a lot here
- Text: Simple text combos, it supports a lot of fonts and templates usually combine them for you.
- Videos: I haven’t used videos yet, but I noticed that recently was incorporated along with the support for gifs.
- Background: Multiple background patterns and ideas.
- Uploads: You can upload your own assets and manage them here
- Folders: This is a premium feature, so I haven’t tested out yet.
- More: support for other richer content like free images, youtube video connect, facebook and more.
Once your design is ready, you can download it as a png or pdf. Keep in mind that if you used any asset that is not free, you will need to pay a small amount for the royalties.
They also have a blog, that you can use for inspiration.
I have used this tool successfully for the following:
- Presentation covers or visuals.
- Graphs, processes, diagrams, and any other supporting assets.
- Icons, banners, even some high level mocks for apps.
- Content for my blog.
What it has not been so useful for:
- Full presentations. It is simply not as quick as any regular tool and also it can become laggy when making too many slides.
- Tables or content that has lots of text.
- Mockups or wireframes. I gave this a try a couple of times, but I tend to move to some other tool really quickly.
Some of examples of what I have created: