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Canva Courts Design Pros With New Social Features And A Marketplace For Their Work

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US-Australian startup Canva wants its easy-to-use design platform to literally be the canvas for design professionals, and its injecting a dose of social into the mix after launching public user profiles, a Twitter-style following system, and a real-time content stream.

The update, which rolled out to the web version of the service first but will come to its newly launched iPad app soon, is all about showcasing designs and helping users find interesting and inspiring ideas, Canva co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins told TechCrunch.

“Over the past 15 months, Canva’s one million users have created more than seven million designs, 460,000 designs were created last week alone. It seemed crazy to have all of these incredible designs created on Canva and no way for anyone to see them,” she explained

Perkins revealed that the move came from watching Canva users on other social media platforms.

“We have seen lots of groups popping up on social media encouraging people to share their Canva designs, so it seemed logical that we enable our users to share their designs with the rest of the Canva community,” she added, explaining that the changes will also help users solicit feedback to their work.

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Canva, which has raised $6.6 million in funding to date, supports a range of different print and web design types, including social media graphics, presentations, posters, business cards, and invitations.

In addition to the social features, Canva now allows users to make money from their content — something that is sure to appeal to design pros.

The Canva platform already offers over one million stock photos, graphics and fonts that can be bought for $1 to spruce up work, but its new Design Marketplace lets “Pro” designers add their work to the collection.

Anyone can apply to be part of the marketplace, but Canva vets applicants based on the quality of their work. Those who make it through earn an undisclosed “royalty” whenever a Canva user buys their work.

Getting Social

Logging into Canva.com now prompts you to sync your Gmail account to help find people you know who are using Canva already. (It also prompts you to invite contacts to join you, though I personally find that a bit spammy.)

The use of Gmail is fine, but it’s a little frustrating that you can’t find friends via Twitter, Facebook and other social networks at this point. As someone who tends to use social networks more than email to connect with people, I found the friend discovery feature to be limited at this point.

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That said, you can find and follow Canva users from inside the ‘Stream’ feed (image above), which effectively showcases new designs as they are published to the service, while Canva told us it will add new options for finding friends over time.

The addition of public profiles could turn Canva into an interesting platform for those who work in the design industry. Not only does it allow you to show off your best work — other designs can be kept private if preferred — but adding follower counts could help top users gain influence and authority.

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Canva is, of course, far from the only company out there trying to be a platform for designers — even if these new features make it more compelling. A recent Facebook post hinted that the company is planning to introduce new premium (Pro and Team) accounts, so it seems to have a few other tricks up its sleeve.

Hat tip @MatthewKnell