Canva brings professional design to anyone with its new iPhone app

Online design platform Canva, which makes it easy for anyone to create professional graphics quickly – even if they don’t have a design background – is expanding its reach today with the launch of its first-ever iPhone application. Up until now, the company had offered a web application for around three years, and had been available on iPad for a year. With its iPhone launch, Canva’s audience could grow beyond the business and marketing professionals who typically use its service today, and become more popular with consumers.

First launched around mid-2013, Canva was dreamed up by CEO Melanie Perkins whose previous company involved a system for building the layouts used in school yearbooks. She realized then there was demand for simple tools that made design more accessible to the mainstream.

Canva today offers an online editor and a library of templates, graphics, fonts, photos and more some of which can be used for free, while others may be available for just a dollar, given their one-time use cases. The platform lets you design a range of graphics for things like slideshows, handouts, posters, cards, collages, invitations, as well as those graphics needed for social media posts, Facebook Pages and more.

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Most importantly, the way the system itself works has made it so easy that anyone can figure out how to put the various pieces together and end up with a professional-looking product, without having to turn to more advanced software like Photoshop or InDesign, for example.

Currently, the platform is used by more than 10 million people, including 50,000 Canva for Work subscribers, which is the company’s premium plan aimed at businesses. These subscribers include several notable names, like Yelp, Lonely Planet, Hubspot and Upworthy, for example. The company to date has raised over $30 million, according to CrunchBase data.

Though Canva emerged as an online service used from the desktop, there has been a growing demand for mobile. Its iPad application has now been downloaded 2 million times, and over half (53%) of its mobile visits today are coming from Apple devices. Meanwhile, the company says that around 30 percent of its engagement with its users via email and more on social media is done on the iPhone.

Combined with the fact that an iPhone app has been users’ most-requested product, Canva knew that launching on iPhone would be a priority this year.

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“We’ve seen incredible growth as an online app for desktop computers, but we’ve always realised that mobile devices are becoming the dominant way that people interact online,” explains Canva co-founder and head of product Cam Adams. “It’s important for us to be available on all devices that people use to create visual content, so releasing the iPhone app is a giant leap towards Canva fulfilling that cross-platform vision.”

He adds that being available on the iPhone will open up the platform to a different type of creation – one that’s “more immediate, contextual and social,” he says.

“This will be extremely valuable to the businesses and marketers that we target currently, but will also be a great attraction for the consumer market, who will be able to use Canva to create some really unique content,” Adams notes.

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The bigger challenge with the iPhone app was in bringing the breadth of tools that Canva offers to the smaller screen, while still keeping the experience simple.

The mobile app offers over a million layouts, stock photos and illustrations, which can be edited with fonts, photo filters, graphics, stickers, shapes and more. Included are hundreds of layouts for things like greeting cards, invitations, social media posts, sales events and flyers, business presentations, Facebook covers, social media graphics, and more.

Finished items can then be published to Facebook Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ or saved for emailing or texting.

While there are a number of apps today for doing basic image edits on the iPhone, Canva has a couple of standout features that put it more in the “pro” space. One is its live camera mode, which lets you take a photo and see the camera live in the background of your design. That makes it easy to snap a pic that fits perfectly in the design you’ve chosen.

The other is its support for multi-page designs, which means it can be used for larger projects on the go, like business presentations.

Overall, the end result is an app that makes sense both for Canva’s core user base of business professionals, but one that could find it spilling over to the consumer market as well.

Canva for iPhone is available for free on iTunes.