Graphic Design Apps: The Only 2 You Need

Get to know Canva and Pablo.

While we do most of our client work in heavy-lifting design programs, we know that Photoshop and Illustrator are not always the best tools for our clients, who may just want to make simple marketing graphics. But nowadays, there’s no need to be a designer to have great images posted to your social media profiles and pages. Why? Because there are so many nifty graphic design apps that feed the non-designer with great ideas and a really simple experience:  

…shall I go on?

Well, I have two more – the two I use most often, and perhaps the only two you’ll ever need to use: Canva and Pablo.  

Pablo vs. Canva

First let’s talk similarities, and then we’ll break them down individually to show why they shine in their own corners and perhaps even compliment one another.

Pablo and Canva are:

  • Both start-ups
  • Free to use
  • Under 3 years old
  • Rapidly growing as tools
  • Simpler versions of other tools
  • Perfect for social sharing
  • Connected to royalty-free image sources

Despite their many similarities, Canva and Pablo also have differences.  To start things off, we’ll look at Canva.




  • Basic: Free with option to purchase certain upgraded templates
  • Canva for Work: $119.14/year or $12.95/month

The low-down:

Fairly simple interface that produces professional-looking images (well, usually!)

What Canva Says They Are:

Canva is an online graphic design platform. It offers free access to a wide assortment of design tools and options, as well as premium options for paying customers. For help, tweet @canva or fill one of these forms out.

Periodic Glitches:

All programs have occasional glitches or issues.  Here’ what we’ve noticed:

  • If the text box doesn’t have extra space around the text within, when downloaded, some of the text falls onto the next line.
  • Sometimes the menu that pops up to edit text falls outside the viewable screen, not allowing edits to be made.

The Whole Picture:

Want to know more?  Here’s a screencast video of Canva in action:

Unique Features of Canva:

1. Add team members to your account:

Want to add your staff or business partners to your account?  In Canva, it’s possible to collaborate on graphic design with other users.  This is a paid feature, but at only $119.40/year or $12.95/month it might be well worth it to collaborate within your organization.

2. Lots of Templates:

Not sure where to start on designs?  Canva has tons of free and low-cost templates from which you can jump-start your designs.

canva templates design websites

3. A Ton of Fonts  

Canva includes a vast font library. If you have Canva for Work, then you can also use any of your own fonts.  Here are a few of the fonts that are available:

canva fonts graphic design websites

There are also font templates and designs to begin working from:

canva font templates

4. Tons of icons, shapes, lines, etc.

The sky’s the limit!  If you need an icon or abstract shape to perfect your graphic, Canva is sure to have it.

Canva shapes, lines, grids, etc graphic design websites

5. Grid lines

Make sure all of your text, photos, and icons are centered (or off-centered if that’s what you prefer).

canva grid lines graphic design apps

6. Canva allows you to choose any Hex Color Code

We talk a lot about the importance of staying on-brand as you work toward growing your online presence. Canva’s color selection tool allows you to make sure you’re staying consistent in color selection and use.

canva hex color codes graphic design apps

Best uses for Canva:

So what do we recommend Canva for?  Here’s our top recommendations for how you can use Canva to grow your business online or in print:

1. Infographics

infographic canva graphic design apps

2. Flyers

flyers canva graphic design apps

3. Social Media & Blog Post Graphics

canva save your own templates graphic design apps

4. Social Media cover images

canva facebook covers graphic design apps

Are you thinking that you’ve found the perfect graphic design app for you?  Well hold on, because I’m about to introduce you to Pablo.


Pablo by Buffer



The low-down:

Super simple with no fluff.

Why do non-creatives love it?

Few design choices and minimalistic design.

Why do creatives love it?

Super quick quote images so they can spend the rest of their time creating their more complicated graphics elsewhere.

What Pablo Says They Are:

The simplest way to create beautiful images that fit every social network perfectly.

Periodic Glitches:

Unpredictable bugs, usually taken care of within hours or days. In the past, these included an unintentional restriction against text editing and errors when trying to download an image. As a new tool, more will pop up! Tweet @buffer or email for help.

The Whole Picture:

Unique Features of Pablo:

1. No Sign-In Required

No login or password needed

2. Improvements Often Being Released

Search for Pablo features amongst this Trello board

3. Extension Allows for Sharing Images From Anywhere

road warrior creative showing pablo extension

4. Text Black or White

pablo by buffer white and black text graphic design apps

5. Image With or Without Contrast

pablo by buffer contrast and no contrast graphic design apps

6. Image With or Without Blur

pablo by buffer blur and no blur graphic design apps

7. Logo / Picture Overlay Resize Slider

8. Three Font Sizes

Pablo text sizes 3 graphic design apps

Best uses for Pablo:

Here are some of my favorite ways to use Pablo.  Give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll agree that Pablo is the perfect tool for creating…

1. Quote Images

pablo quote images graphic design apps

2. Blog Post Titles

Pablo blog post title images graphic design apps

3. Header Images

pablo header images graphic design apps

4. An Image with a Logo

pablo image with logo graphic design apps

Canva or Pablo: What do you think?

Fairly robust vs. seriously simple graphic design apps. What do you think? Do you use Canva or Pablo? Or, do you have another must-have I didn’t highlight? Send over your ideas on Twitter!

Thoughts or Questions?

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