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Help! Photoshop is too complicated. What should I use?

“Visuals have so much more impact than lots of text,” Canva CEO Melanie Perkins says.

Courtesy Canva

[Editor’s note: If you enjoy this podcast, don’t miss the design challenge, below.]

There was a time when only professionals needed design tools like Adobe’s Photoshop.

That time is over, Canva CEO Melanie Perkins said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Perkins told Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode that her Sydney, Australia-based company’s design app — a drag-and-drop tool aimed mainly at consumers rather than professionals — radically simplifies the process of making something presentable.

"Most design programs were built in the era of desktops," she said. "To actually create something that looks professional, you have to go to all these different platforms — a stock photography library and a layout library and a font library — and then you collaborate over email or Dropbox. It’s a really time-consuming process to create something that looks good."

Kara, Lauren and Melanie also answered questions from our readers and listeners about consumer-friendly apps and tools for all kinds of design, from graphics to video to audio.

Perkins said the reason for these sorts of tools is simple: Our social media-fed culture is more demanding than it used to be.

"Visuals have so much more impact than lots of text," she said. "People have such a short attention span, they want to get the information as quickly as possible. There’s so much more engagement on an image than on text-based language."

Which brings us to a special design challenge: We’re going to put that claim to the test, but we need your help. First, pick any article from or our archives. Then, use Canva to create a Poster (one of the default design types) based on that article. Arrange the ideas, quotes and text however you like. Whether you use a template or do it all from scratch, we want to see your creative side!

Email your final poster to us at We’ll share our favorites on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you to everyone who sent in their questions about design apps. Still have questions we didn’t get to? Or have another tech topic on your mind? You can tweet any questions, comments and complaints to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed. You can also email your questions to, in case Twitter isn’t your thing.

Be sure to follow @LaurenGoode, @KaraSwisher and @Recode to be alerted when we're looking for questions about a specific topic.

If you like this show, you should also check out our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events such as the Code Conference,Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara and Lauren. Tune in next Friday for another episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask!

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