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Canva: A Digital Marketer’s Best Friend or a Graphic Designer’s Worst Nightmare?

Discussing the Ethics Behind the Internet’s Favorite Graphic Design Platform

As digital marketers, we know the value of professionally outsourcing tasks on our campaigns and projects. For example, when designing a bare-boned website for a client recently, a professional photographer was hired to capture upscale content - something I’m not personally capable of doing on my own.

In fact, advertising and freelance artistry have always gone hand-in-hand. Back in the days of the old-school advertising agency, professional illustrators were often hired to help design and create print-ads. As our industry has progressed into the digital age, it’s been similarly common for marketers to hire freelance graphic designers; professionals who help create state-of-the-art images and graphics for the modern marketing campaign.

However, with the emergence of accessible graphic design programs like Canva in recent years, this trend has become increasingly less common. Quite simply, it’s never been easier for businesses to do the work of a graphic designer on their own.

But is that a good thing? It depends who you ask.

While Canva’s accessibility has opened a lot of doors for digital marketers in recent years, it’s closed just as many for professional graphic designers. According to a recent study, the market size of the graphic design industry within the United States has declined by 1.6% each year between 2016 and 2021.

Even worse, the program holds little value to those in the industry - while easy and simple for most, Canva’s features are strictly rudimentary for experienced professionals; programs like InDesign offer nearly double the editing tools as Canva. Unfortunately for graphic designers, many of these features just aren’t as important to the average small business - a restaurant creating a coupon doesn’t need Photoshop’s complete arsenal.

In reality, Canva offers every business the tools necessary for having a competent and professional online presence. While damaging to the graphic design industry, Canva allows many businesses to explore avenues of marketing they wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.

While large corporations should, and will, continue to rely on graphic design professionals for their marketing campaigns, Canva offers unlimited possibilities for everyone else.

To answer my original question: yes, that is a good thing.

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