News & Analysis

Canva announces launch of platform in six new languages to reach a billion potential users worldwide

- May 17, 2016 3 MIN READ

Design startup Canva has today announced its design platform will be available in six new languages, which will expand the company’s reach to more than a billion potential users worldwide. This is part of its strategic expansion strategy which by 2017 will see Canva offered in every major language.

For the last three years Canva has only been offered in English, but as its user base has grown to more than 10 million users across 179 countries the company has needed to rapidly expand and offer templates, designs and features in more than one language.

With localisation crucial, Canva is now also available in Latin American and European Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian and Polish, meaning the service can now reach more than 1.3 billion people in their native language.

“Canva has been a global app since day one and our vision is to get it into the hands of every internet user on the planet,” cofounder and chief executive Melanie Perkins said.

“Offering the app in people’s native languages has been a huge project, and a very important one as we continue to grow. Ten million users can sound like a lot, but there are more than 3 billion internet users, so we’re only just getting started.”

A lot of preparation has gone into engaging audiences from international markets. In setting up Canva for launch with six languages the team hired 26 linguists to help translate, review, and proofread the site.

“The most powerful element of Canva’s growth so far has been word of mouth and people sharing it with their colleagues, friends and family. Enabling Canva to be accessed in people’s native language is core to our ethos of making Canva accessible to everyone across the globe,” said Perkins.

Canva is currently working on adding a further 10 languages such as Russian, Indonesian, Thai, Malay, Japanese, Turkish and Ukrainian, which are all expected to be available within the next three months. Within the next year Canva intends to offer its platform in every major language in the world, including Arabic and Chinese, which require some re-engineering and language formatting.

While translating Canva into international languages is a big part of its global expansion strategy, simple language changes are not enough to engage with foreign audiences. Internationalising the app requires more than this and so the team has created hundreds of new layout designs and templates to target different local celebrations and aesthetics. The design team at Canva is also working towards ensuring there are ample pictures and fonts for key markets.

For example the design team at Canva has made localised designs for celebrations and events including Halloween in the US, Oktober Festival in Germany and Cinco De Mayo in Mexico.

“One thing we have learnt throughout our internationalisation efforts is that it is essential for our entire team to get behind the initiative as it affects every aspect of our company,” said Perkins.

“We’ve been amazed by the pent up demand for Canva to be available in people’s native languages. For example, when we launched Canva in Spanish in Beta, over 350,000 people converted into Spanish.”

Perkins also explained that Canva has learned a lot about how important cultural context is for design. For example ,German words are typically longer than English words and so the Canva interface must be able to support their characters and take into consideration how words and fonts translate and are received by different cultures.

In August last year the company also launched Canva for Work, a paid platform that enables individuals and organisations to create consistent and inexpensive graphic designs. The platform was first launched to four million users and Perkins says it has experienced quick growth. Canva for Work now has 40,000 teams on board and recently lifted the limit of 200 members per team as one of its customers outgrew it. Customers can expect more to come from the platform and additions will be announced at a later date.

“We’re focused on continuing to grow Canva, both in terms of its accessibility to more people across the globe and also we have a lot more of our product to build out yet,” said Perkins.

“While we have made some great strides in realising our vision over the last few years, we’re still only 1 percent of the way into our plan and vision for the company and the many ways we can empower our users.”

We spoke to Canva cofounder Cliff Obrecht about the startup’s growth at our Data Day conference last year:


Image: Cliff Obrecht, Melanie Perkins and Cam Adams. Source: Supplied.