Cameron Adams — Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Canva

Cameron talks to TheNextGag about what the creative platform is best used for, the art direction behind the design templates and what is on the roadmap for Canva.

Cameron Adams is the Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer of Canva, a collaborative online design platform for non-professional designers, in Australia.

Before joining Canva, he worked at Google as a designer and founded the startup Fluent. Prior to that he ran his own successful design consultancy, has authored four books on web design and regularly speaks at conferences around the world.

THENEXTGAG: CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR MAIN TARGET AUDIENCE ?

CAMERON ADAMS: A large segment of our early adopters were professionals involved in social media — they’re the perfect combination for Canva: technology-minded and eager visual communicators. But we’ve been amazed at the takeup across a whole range of sectors: small businesses, marketing teams at big companies and non-profits, as well as things closer to home, such as parents making invitations for 3rd birthday parties.

But without a doubt my favourite usage of Canva is “wanted” posters for sherrif’s offices. Canva’s catching crooks!

TNG: HOW BIG IS YOUR TEAM ?

CA: The team currently comprises 42 people in 3 offices around the world: Sydney, Manila and San Francisco. But we’re rapidly growing (looking for engineers and bright all-rounders) so that number might be out of date by the time you read this!

TNG: DO YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT OR NOT TO BE LOCATED IN AUSTRALIA ?

CA: Australia has its advantages and its disadvantages. On the plus side there’s less competition for resources here, so it can be easier to attract talent and retain them. However, there isn’t the diversity of startup experience that you’d get in Silicon Valley so it can be harder to find someone to do something specialised.

From a product perspective, we haven’t really seen much downside to being here. We’re a truly global product: our biggest market is the US and there’s plenty of non-english speaking users creating great designs in Canva.

Lifestyle in Sydney is definitely a major bonus — the sun and sand keep a smile on everyone’s faces, and people who have moved here to join Canva have said they seriously wouldn’t consider moving back.

TNG: DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR EASING THE USE OF YOUR PRODUCT ?

CA: We’re constantly refining the experience of our product. There’s a keen focus in every part of the business on how users interact with Canva; whether that be the usability of editing text in a particular design or contacting customer support when they hit a hurdle. All of our features go through stringent testing, both internally and externally, and we won’t release something unless it’s proven to be an easy and valuable addition for our users.

TNG: I WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MOST USED TYPE OF DESIGNS (POSTER, SOCIAL MEDIA, PRESENTATION, BUSINESS CARDS …) ON CANVA ?

CA: Social media posts (in all their varied forms) rank quite highly, as do presentations and posters. But custom-sized designs are one of our most created design types, so there’s a lot of people making designs that are specific to their exact needs.

TNG: IN TERMS OF ART DIRECTION, DO YOU TRY TO MAINTAIN A PARTICULAR AESTHETIC TO THE DESIGN TEMPLATES OR, ON THE CONTRARY, DO YOU WISH TO PROPOSE A BROAD SELECTION TO FIT ALL NEEDS ?

CA: Our aim is to be as broad as possible because the design needs of one person are very different from another. You might require a straight-laced corporate style, I might need an embellished illustrative style. Finding the perfect type of design when you need it is one of the challenges we’re tackling and our designer marketplace is a direct answer to that. Our own design team can’t service every possible aesthetic and layout that people need, so there’s a fantastic opportunity for the designers of the world to put their work on Canva and receive great rewards by providing the perfect design solution for a particular audience.

TNG: CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IS THE SELECTION PROCESS FOR DESIGNERS WHO WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO CANVA ?

CA: First and foremost they have to be great designers that can produce high quality work. Each design in Canva is used by thousands of people every day, so any imperfections get replicated thousand of times. We’re very proud of the quality that users can expect once they’ve finished designing in Canva, and we strive to maintain this standard.

The other important thing that designers need to have when contributing to Canva is an understanding of how users will interact with their layout. How will they interact with each of the elements? How quickly can they customise it? Is it flexible enough for a broad range of people? Can they produce something unique to them?

To do this you really have to try out Canva for yourself and think about how your design fits into the platform.

TNG: DO YOU ALREADY HAVE EXAMPLES OF BRANDS USING CANVA IN THEIR MARKETING ?

CA: Canva is largely being used at work and our usage peaks during the working day. Large brands, small businesses, non-profits and educators all over the world are using it to help with their design needs. We know that teams at more than 40% of the Fortune 500 are using Canva which is really exciting. One recent example is Fortune Magazine which has been producing its social media graphics for its #FortuneAdvice Twitter campaign in Canva.

A few weeks ago we reached out to our Canva users who create a lot of designs and asked them how they are using Canva. We received hundreds of responses from users all over the world and heard from many small businesses. Some are using Canva to create all of their marketing materials and describe Canva as ‘leveling the playing field’ because they now have access to great design without many of the barriers they experienced before such as cost, time and expert skills. They are creating graphics for social media, Facebook ads and cover photos, flyers, business cards, signage and more. It is so great to see them pick up Canva and run with it to build their business.

TNG: WHAT NEXT FEATURES CAN WE EXPECT ?

CA: Canva has grown rapidly over the past 18 months. Since launching, we’ve reached 1.6 million users who have created more than 13 million designs. We’re constantly improving the experience to make it even simpler for people to create beautiful designs.

One recent launch was our marketplace allowing professional designers to contribute their own layouts and earn a royalty when they’re used.

As for upcoming features, we’ve been listening to how people use Canva every day and what they’d *like* to use it for, and we think our more business-oriented users will be quite pleased with some of our plans for later this year. ;)

Cameron Adams

Canva

Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

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