In today's digital world, graphic design and collaboration have become integral parts of almost every industry. Figma and Canva are two popular platforms that offer users the ability to create compelling designs and collaborate seamlessly. Career designers, small business owners, and all manner of marketing professionals often debate the merits of the two most-used tools. Which one is better in general? Which one might be better for you specifically? In this post, we’ve decided to compare Figma and Canva, highlighting their pros and cons. We’re also going to provide a general recommendation on which product is best suited for different purposes so that you can make a decision about the design tool that is ideal for you.
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What are Figma and Canva?
First of all, let’s talk about what these tools are. Though they are commonly used, if your day-to-day activities aren’t design-heavy, you might not have much experience with either of these platforms. Both Canva and Figma are popular design tools, but they have different focuses.
Canva is targeted toward non-designers who want to create simple graphics and designs quickly and easily. On the other hand, Figma is aimed at professional designers who need more advanced collaboration and prototyping features. At the end of the day, each tool should be gauged on its own merits based on your project needs. The choice between the tools will depend on your specific needs and design goals.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Figma:
Figma is considered a vector editing and prototyping tool with a user-friendly interface that’s designed to facilitate real-time collaboration. Offering features like vector editing, prototyping, and collaboration tools, people often use it for various design needs across a variety of sectors. Figma is often sufficient for both personal or professional uses, and users are able to edit individual graphic elements without losing quality or altering the proportions of the design. In general, it’s a more sophisticated tool than Canva and some others, and offers options for more complex graphic design needs. There are pros and cons to this platform, which we’ll dive into now.
Pros of Figma
Powerful design tools
Figma provides a robust set of design tools, making it a great choice for professional designers. The platform offers a wide range of features, including things like vector editing, prototyping, and advanced layout capabilities, allowing users to create more complex and intricate designs.
One of the best features of Figma is the collaboration capability - Figma really shines when it comes to working with others! Multiple users can work simultaneously on the same design, making it easy for teams to collaborate and provide feedback in real-time. This feature is especially useful for remote groups or when working with client teams.
Figma is a web-based tool that runs smoothly on both Mac and Windows platforms. Additionally, it offers dedicated apps for iOS and Android devices, enabling users to work on their designs from anywhere, at any time.
Figma includes a comprehensive version control system that allows users to track changes, revert to previous versions, and collaborate seamlessly without the fear of losing progress. This feature is particularly valuable for teams working using iterative design processes.
Figma offers a wide range of plugins and integrations, allowing users to extend the functionality of the platform. These plugins enhance productivity, streamline workflows, and provide access to additional design resources. You may want to check out this article on the top 20 plugins to use with Figma.
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Cons of Figma
A steep learning curve
Figma's extensive feature set and advanced capabilities may require a learning curve for beginners or casual users. While the platform provides comprehensive documentation and tutorials, it may take some time for users to become proficient in utilizing its full potential. While Canva is marketed as a design tool for non-designers, Figma requires some design background or a strong desire to learn.
Less stock assets
Unlike Canva, Figma does not provide a vast library of pre-designed templates or stock assets. Users may need to create designs from scratch or import external resources, which can be time-consuming. Less design-savvy individuals will probably want to rely on more stock materials like images and layouts.
Pricey paid plans
Figma offers a free plan with limited features, but to access advanced functionalities and collaboration features, users must subscribe to their paid plans. Paid plans start at $15 per user, per month. Some individuals or small businesses with tight budgets may find these options restrictive.
Figma's export options are not as versatile as other design tools. While users can export designs in various formats, they may encounter limitations when it comes to exporting high-resolution images or specific file types.
No offline access
Figma relies heavily on an internet connection, which means that users cannot access their designs or work on them offline. This limitation will be inconvenient for users who frequently find themselves in areas with limited or no internet connectivity.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Canva
Canva is known for being user-friendly and powerful. The graphic design tool allows users to create visually appealing work with drag-and-drop tools and built-in templates. It also offers features like photo editing, logo creation, and much more. It’s an extremely useful resource for people who do not have professional design skills or programs at their disposal. The Canva design platform has a complete Work Suite with useful applications to create documents, presentations, social media graphics, website pages, and more. The core value for most users lies in the design of visual marketing elements. Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Pros of Canva
Canva is known for its user-friendly interface, making it accessible to people with little to no design experience. The platform offers drag-and-drop functionality, pre-designed templates, and a vast library of stock assets, allowing users to create professional-looking designs effortlessly. Most people would say the best thing about Canva is how little design experience is needed to create visually appealing elements.
Large template library
Canva boasts a vast collection of templates for various design purposes, including social media posts, presentations, posters, and more. This feature is particularly beneficial for users who need quick design solutions or lack design expertise. A lot of generalized marketing teams can use these templates to develop quick posts, web pages, etc.
Canva allows users to cooperate on designs by inviting team members to edit, comment, or provide feedback. While it may not offer real-time collaboration like Figma (more on that below), it still provides the necessary tools for effective teamwork. If you work as part of a larger team and need to gain feedback from others, this system is quite valuable.
Canva offers a free plan with a wide range of features, making it an attractive option for individuals and small businesses with limited budgets. Their paid plans, which unlock additional features and stock assets, are also priced competitively. A large portion of users can get by with the lower priced or even free plans.
Unlike Figma, Canva provides users with the ability to work offline through their desktop application. This feature is particularly useful for those who need to create or edit designs in areas with limited internet connectivity. Depending on the way that you work, you may find this feature most valuable of all.
Cons of Canva
Limited design personalization
While Canva offers a vast library of templates and resources, customization choices may be limited compared to more advanced design tools like Figma. Users may find it challenging to achieve highly unique or specific design elements. If you need highly customized design elements that are different from what you would find in most marketing materials, you may find Canva limited. That being said, most users have more basic design needs - those with more comprehensive needs are probably already using a more robust platform.
Lower vector editing options
Canva's vector editing capabilities are more limited compared to Figma and other platforms. Users who require intricate vector editing or complex design elements are likely to find Canva's tools restrictive.
Lack of advanced prototyping
Canva focuses primarily on graphic design and lacks advanced prototyping capabilities. This isn’t an issue for most, but users who require interactive prototypes or complex user flows may need to utilize other tools in conjunction with Canva.
Limited file formats
Canva supports popular file formats for exporting designs, but it may not offer the same level of versatility as other design tools.
We just mentioned the collaboration capabilities in the pros section - and it does have better capabilities than some other design choices. However, this functionality is not as robust as you can find with Figma, and some users may find it more difficult to work simultaneously or provide feedback in real-time.
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Canva or Figma: Design Platform Recommendations
Like with most technology tools, choosing between them is going to come down to your unique needs and requirements. However, there are some general recommendations to be made regarding these platforms.
- For professional designers or design teams, Figma is a better choice. Teams that need more advanced functionality like real-time collaboration or version control will find this platform to be more powerful and flexible. It’s naturally suitable for more complex design projects and is made to support seamless teamwork.
- For casual designers or small businesses, Canva is preferred. If you have limited design experience or a lower budget, then Canva is a great option for helping you to get things done. It’s user-friendly and has an extensive template library, plus it’s cost-effective. This makes it accessible and efficient for creating professional-looking designs without investing in advanced design skills or programs.
- Looking for social media graphics or quick design solutions? Canva will be best as your go-to. If your primary focus is creating social media posts, quick presentations, or simple design elements, then their vast library of templates and easy-to-use interface provide a convenient and time-saving solution.
- If you tend to perform a lot of your work offline, then Canva’s desktop application will offer a significant advantage. Many people find themselves in areas with no internet access or working from planes or trains with spotty wifi. In these cases, the desktop application will allow offline access and enable you to continue your most important work.
- When it comes to collaborating and working as a team, Figma offers more robust features that will streamline your work. Many groups rely on real-time collaboration and seamless teamwork, and Figma is designed to facilitate these capabilities with robust functionality. People can work simultaneously on designs and provide real-time feedback, which improves efficiency and enhances the overall team design process.
The truth is that both Figma and Canva are incredibly powerful design tools with their own strengths and weaknesses. Which one is best for you will depend on several factors such as the circumstances we listed above.
In general, Figma caters to more professional designers or collaborative design teams, offering advanced graphic and editing tools, real-time collaboration, and version control. On the other hand, Canva is user-friendly and cost-effective, and provides a large template library and intuitive interface for casual designers without much design experience. When choosing between the two, consider things like your own design experience, specific graphic needs and uses, how much collaboration is required, and whether you’ll ever need to work offline. Cost is also another factor that should be considered since Canva offers more robust options in their free plan, whereas Figma has much more advanced features - but the price tag to go along with them.
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If you have used either Figma or Canva and have a favorite, let us know which you love and why! And, be sure to follow our blog to keep up with all things work. In the Shift blog, we cover updates, tricks, and tools that will help you to be more productive and have a better online experience. Make sure to keep up for more technology tool reviews, case studies and news, and tons of tips to help you become a browser pro.