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Designing Above Your Weight Class With Canva

Early into my career, I realized I was clueless about personal finance. My employer offered me options for a retirement plan and this paralyzed me with doubt. I was deeply intimidated by all the choices, acronyms and numbers. I didn't know where to start; despite going to school for accounting, which only added more egg to my face. 

I dove into the space to build my confidence. Once I got going, I realized it wasn't that hard. I started to enjoy learning about taxes, planning, and investing. It was empowering. I felt ownership over my financial life.

As a way to reinforce and share learnings, I began blogging. I figured learning in public was a good way to test ideas, get feedback, and help folks in similar shoes. 

I was focused on writing, but soon it became clear that my blog looked pretty dull with just text. I needed cover art to give my content some pop, some character, some life. 

I started with stock images from Unsplash, but soon this felt unoriginal and limiting. You'll be surprised how many publications (even big ones) recycled the same images over and over. To express myself, I wanted art for myself.     

Aside from doodling rough designs for work (emphasis on rough), I'm not a professional designer. Assessing the product landscape, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator kept popping up as solutions. I didn't need this much firepower and the learning curve wasn't worth it for me. Writing was my focus. I needed something simple. 

Along came Canva, a platform with countless ready-made templates, customizable graphics, and a ridiculously easy drag-and-drop interface. With Canva, I had all I needed to make the art I wanted. So far I've created over 100 designs and I recommend the product all the time. 

I share my experience to demonstrate the value of a well-designed product (pun maybe intended). 

People buy products not for features, but to meet an outcome, to solve a problem. There are three main outcomes users look for: 

1) Functional Outcomes: The core tasks the users want done.

2) Emotional Outcomes: The way users want to feel by accomplishing those tasks. 

3) Social Outcomes: The way users want to be perceived for using your product. 

My functional outcome was the ability to create cover art. My emotional outcome was the confidence I felt as a creator. My social outcome was being perceived as professional by my readers. 

Functional outcomes are clearer and are what most companies focus on. However, a lot of opportunity is in the emotional and the social. These are what separate a $50,000 Rolex from a $50 Timex. 

I continue to use and recommend Canva, because similar to how learning empowered me to take control of my finances, their product empowers me to create. 


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