I just received beta access to a pretty cool graphs design system – Canva. It presents itself as neither a BI tool nor an InfoGraphics tool. But it could play a peripheral role in both BI and InfoGraphics with one small creative tweak. More on that shortly.

What is Canva?

It’s a simple and effective approach for creating flyers, business cards, posters, and graphical artifacts for all manner of publishing projects. It appears to be a very well-deisgned cloud implementation as well. Having used a number of purely cloud-based design tools over the years, the developers have certainly created a responsive and highly useful UI and UX.

Canva [beta] is unique in that it already has a well-designed revenue model. The use of professional graphics, styles, and backgrounds cost a buck each. That doesn’t seem like much until you leverage a bunch of them as you effortless pick from a seriously big library of resources. There are many free images and styles but you’re likely to be attracted to the professional objects for obvious reasons.

And Canva has a wonderful search feature that allows you to find practically any graphical imagery for your projects. It streamlines your graphic design productivity while providing frictionless access to resources that make you look like a pro. And it doesn’t rule out the ability for you to upload your own images into its library model for your own private use. Ideally though, you should be able to share your images for free or as micro-priced artifacts for others to use or purchase.

While the application and revenue model are seamless and your output will be rapid, the pricing (a dollar per artifact) may not be economically sustainable. I don’t fault Canva for taking a stab at a revenue model right out of the gate; we need to do business with companies that are sustainable and it’s wise they are establishing customer expectations early. And designers – especially professionals and those non-pros who aspire to create professional-looking results, are typically ready to offer up credit cards for micro-payments.

But therein lay an issue – a lot of George Washingtons in a small pile suddenly causes designers to think twice before clicking “publish”. You can create designes as much as you like without paying. To remove watermarks on non-free images triggers the payment gate. I wonder how many designs would get published if images were a buck for the first one and just 25 cents for each one thereafter? I suspect a bunch more – perhaps marginally more thus optimizing revenue potential.

Dynamic InfoGraphics

I create InfoGraphics from time-to-time for clients. Typically they include real charts – pies, bars, etc that are based on real data of course. This is a compelling way to tell a story. Corporate reporting is also something I’ve explored using both Klipfolio and experimental Google Apps such as DashOne.

I was hoping that Canva had a way to integrate images by reference, not [just] by value, but it doesn’t support this seemingly obvious architectural model. I’ve written about the problems of sharing by value and the benefits of integrating content by reference. If Canva would add this, it would be possible to create dynamic InfoGraphics.

A dynamic InfoGraphic could be created as a blueprint for a report. In the report there would be various references to charts that actually exist in BI tools such as Klipfolio. As the data changes in Klipfolio, new versions of the InfoGraphic reports would be updated in real-time making it swift work to republish a new version of the report without requiring you to snag copies of charts, save them locally, then upload them, and finally drag them into position. It should be a click-and-go process.

Klipfolio, Canva; c’mon – put your creative caps on and change the world.