Non-Designer Design Tips: Transform Templates into Something New

Similar to copywriting, graphic design is often taken for granted in the business world. Scratch that... it’s taken for granted until your work gets called out on a list of “alarmingly bad” print ads.

You don’t have to be a Photoshop wizard to create visuals you can be proud of. Or outsource to an expensive creative agency.

With tools like Canva, available through the Staples Solutionshop, beautiful designs are at your fingertips for everything from back to business banners to take out menus. All you have to do is make the templates your own. Try these design tips to add a personal touch to your designs in Canva.

Play with the Background

If you’re totally new to design, make simple changes to start. Select a template with a layout that best resembles the end result you’re looking for — knowing you can make any edits you’d like to the visual once you start designing.

In the Canva editor tool, you’ll see a Background tab along the left-hand side. That’s where you’ll have access to different colours, photos and graphics to apply as the background of your design. If you have brand-specific colour codes handy, you can also add them to the colour picker for easy reference and application.

One key design principle to be conscious of as you select a background visual or colour is contrast.Sacha de Boer, Canva’s Creative Template Lead for Print, gave a simple explanation of this idea during a recent Staples Spotlight Event. “If I go really light [with the background] and my text is white, there’s not much contrast happening, so it’s not very legible. I’d be better off choosing a darker colour for the copy instead of a lighter colour.”

Apply Your Branding

Aside from colours, Canva makes it super easy to apply your own branding across different templates. For example, if you have brand-specific photography you want to incorporate, you can either upload images through the Uploads tab or drag images from your desktop into the editor tool.

Any images you add to a template will be automatically fitted to whatever frame is applied. You don’t have to worry about cropping.

With a variety of font styles to choose from, you can also align text with your brand guidelines. Make sure whichever fonts you select are easy to read, experimenting with different sizes or effects as desired.

Use Design Elements Wisely

Keep in mind key design principles as you rework Canva templates. Along with contrast, Canva’s de Boer uses two other principles when creating her designs: hierarchy and single-minded focus.

De Boer explains, “Hierarchy focuses on the main message you want to get across to your audience… if everything is screaming at you, the audience doesn’t know what to look out for and they will probably ignore the whole design. They won’t be able to walk away with one message.”

Similarly, single-minded focus emphasizes the need for streamlining your designs across colours, typography and layout. Everything should flow together cohesively.

When browsing different design elements to add to your template, Canva will automatically provide recommendations based on the current feel of your design. You’ll also be able to search for specific visuals, swap out frames for photos, and adjust the layout of your template in the Elements section.

Remember: when in doubt, keep things simple and focused on the main message you’re trying to convey. And if you’re still struggling to get your design just right — template or otherwise — don’t hesitate to reach out to our graphic design experts. They can help bring your ideas to life starting at only $20.

By Staples Canada

August 18, 2021