Today’s Favorite Toy: Canva.com

Graphic design is not one of my talents. My logo (or at least the peacock portion of it)? A gift from a talented friend. I can set up WordPress sites, write nearly unlimited amounts of content, or troubleshoot tech catastrophes, but when it comes to making something pretty: I ain’t an artist.

I stumbled upon Canva earlier today when I needed to create a logo ASAP. And in about five minutes, I had the name-tag logo you see above. Is it one-of-a-kind? Is it mind-blowing? No. But it is good-looking, simple, and quick. And Canva lets you do a lot more.

Edit on 6/2/15: Looks like they’re releasing something called Canva for Work. I hope it’s as awesome as the main version. The waitlist can be found here

Free Features

Canva comes with a ton of fonts, layouts, and sample images. It’s basically a super dumbed-down publishing tool that allows you to create online graphics, logos, infographics, promotional materials, business cards — any of the publishing stuff that you’d pay a graphic designer lots of money to do for you.

The easiest way to create something is to start with one of their layouts and then upload some of your own images or content (such as your own picture or logo).

Did I mention it’s free? Well, mostly.

Premium Features

There is a ton of free content. There are also a lot of premium tidbits — clip art images, layouts, etc. — that cost $1 per use. (You can also upload your own images which means, theoretically, you could use their platform and never pay a cent.)

How This Works for Lawyers

The obvious uses: logos and business cards. But where this would really shine is if you want to create flyers for offline marketing or shareable online infographics.

This took fifteen minutes while watching an episode of past-its-prime Grey’s Anatomy:

willie peacock author of
Shameless self-promotion!

Not bad, huh? I love the pre-made layouts, free icons, and how the design elements snap into alignment with each other. And the transparency feature is flawless. Also, it had no issues with my transparent .PNG peacock logo that Vistaprint and other sites choked on.

To sum it all up: free graphic design and publishing tool that has almost no learning curve. It’s definitely on my bookmarks list.

Frustration is a Natural Byproduct of DIY (Thanks Automattic!)

There has to be a lesson here. There probably is … something about me needing anger management so that I won’t break my keyboard after spending 45 minutes trying to get a simple *(&(*& logo added to one of WordPress’s own themes.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Automattic Makes Great Themes for WordPress Sites

Automattic is the company behind WordPress. There’s a more complicated relationship there — nonprofit “.org” versus the for-profit spin-off, but who really gives a damn? Short version: same folks.

So it stands to reason that their own templates are going to be the quick and easy way to put a site together. And I love the Edin theme: so clean, modern, and simple. If only the “modern” menu option didn’t take over the whole page, and if only there were an integrated color chooser so that I didn’t have to go with blue for everything by default.

Anyway, the theme and Automattic both advertise the new “Site Logo” feature: set your logo in one place and it’ll show up throughout your site, automagically resized. And this is the only way to set your logo like the way I have it above — in line with the search box. If you try to use a header, it ends up above the search box and looks like crap.

Grrr. Okay. But the “Site Logo” feature begins by clicking “Add logo” under the customize > appearance tabs. And that button was missing.

F U Jetpack.

What was the answer? After thirty minutes of searching for the answer, I found it in a damned forum thread. Not on WordPress.org. Not on the theme documentation. Not anywhere.

If your “Site Logo” or “Add a logo” buttons are missing: You need WordPress’s Jetpack add-in installed. It’s free, so no big deal, but damn man, how hard is it to mention that “Site Logo” is a Jetpack-only feature?

You’re killing me Automattic.