Rymden - stock.adobe.com

Canva steps up design game with new AI-powered design tools

The platform provides accessible tools for small businesses that need design help. Canva is also escalating its technology to compete against bigger design platforms such as Adobe.

Canva's new AI tools create the same dilemma that similar AI tools present to designers, artists and content creators: While the technology eases the creative process, it also raises the specter of AI displacing human jobs.

The graphic design platform vendor has expanded the capabilities of its Visual Worksuite with Brand Hub, introduced on March 23 and available now.

The Visual Worksuite is a set of tools and features that help teams and organizations create. Brand Hub offers businesses a palette of capabilities that include creating a brand kit with their logo, instantly updating brand assets across a company with a single click using Magic Replace, and setting controls such as fonts and colors that are specific to a brand.

Canva's Visual Worksuite is now powered by AI tools supporting the design process. For example, Magic Design creates a curated selection of personalized templates for designers. Magic Edit adds and replaces anything within the design. And Canva Assistant recommends images, layouts and custom AI-generated content to designers.

Designers' dilemma

Although Canva caters to a broader audience than just designers, by introducing AI-powered tools, it and other design platforms such as Adobe Firefly are starting to produce somewhat of a dilemma for designers, said Sheila Mahoutchian, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"All these AI features that they are rolling out are creating an opportunity that is both exciting and concerning," Mahoutchian said.

The tools make it easier for designers to do previously time-consuming tasks. Tasks such as cleaning up details around images or removing unwanted objects from pictures are now much more streamlined because of AI.

It's an evolution, and it's good. The question is where will we take it and how will we change as a result of these new kinds of capabilities?
Sheila MahoutchianAnalyst, Forrester Research

However, designers and other creators now face new uncertainty by being largely relieved of some mundane tasks.

"Now that things are going faster, what will we do with our time, and how will they grow and evolve from there?" Mahoutchian said, referring to designers.

On one hand, designers might feel that the new capabilities will eliminate their jobs since they no longer have to do these chores. But the tools and capabilities could also lead to new growth opportunities, such as working with the AI tools to create different and new design elements.

"It's an evolution, and it's good," Mahoutchian said. "The question is where will we take it and how will we change as a result of these new kinds of capabilities?"

Competing with Adobe

Canva is also trying to catch up to Adobe, its much bigger rival.

"Anything that deals with creative design content is always going to feel like it's copying Adobe," said Liz Miller, an analyst at Constellation Research.

However, with the release of these tools, Canva is likely also meeting customer demand, she said.

"They're chasing their customers, their customer demands and expectations," Miller said. "But at the end of the day, a lot of those demands and expectations have been set and the bar has been set by Adobe.

"What I'd actually like to see them do is not just innovate the business model or innovate some individual tool sets or templating, but really push people in a new direction," she continued.

In a statement provided to TechTarget, Canva responded:

"Our latest updates, from embedding AI throughout the design process to empowering brands to create content at scale, are a response to our community's biggest design challenges, not an answer to what others in the industry are doing.”

While Canva might not have a unique set of tools and capabilities, the vendor maintains a strong footprint in making design and representation tools available for smaller businesses. In addition, the vendor makes quality design possible for companies that don't have the budget for even a small design team.

"Canva's value proposition is very much about 'it's easy, it's fun, but it's fast,' right? You can get to executing really quickly. And that's why they're implementing these AI tools," Miller said.

However, Adobe has also introduced new capabilities that directly compete with Canva's. For example, Adobe Express enables users to create graphics, short videos and webpages for social media use, similar to Canva. Therefore, for Canva, introducing these capabilities is its attempt to step up its performance to a higher level.

"They're trying to expand their tool set based on how their customers are growing and wanting to integrate those into a business scenario and not just a personal one," Miller said.

Esther Ajao is a news writer covering artificial intelligence software and systems.

Dig Deeper on Marketing and sales

Content Management
Unified Communications
Data Management
Enterprise AI