Xingyi Ho

Growth Lead at Canva

Xingyi Ho

Growth Lead at Canva

Web and Digital analytics

How are Web and Digital Analytics used at Canva?

We use analytics on almost every front at Canva. Analytics inform everything from product decisions to growth experiments, diagnosing the severity of customer support issues and improving our onboarding and activation rates. Essentially, analytics tell us where the largest opportunities and problems are, so we can decide what the highest-impact next step will be. As an analytics specialist, you work cross-functionally with team coordinators across the company and advise them on best practices, dive deep into problems and provide recommendations.

As a specific example – when we wanted to improve our onboarding activation rate, we needed to help new users publish their very first design. Something we discovered was that a user was much more likely to publish a design if they’d used a template, as opposed to starting a design from scratch. That fundamental insight lead us to focus much more strongly on templates, and build out a whole marketplace and team dedicated to templates. We also found that particular types of templates improve the likelihood of users publishing a design, so we were able to elevate templates with those characteristics.

The product analytics team find statistical insights, but that’s only the first step. Our ultimate aim is to move the needle on our key metrics, so we need to know if these insights are the result of correlation or causation. That requires experiments. We were able to prove our hypothesis, for example, that higher template usage improves the rate of people publishing designs. On the other hand, the fact that users who upload photos are more likely to publish designs turns out to be pure correlation. Encouraging people to upload photographs doesn’t lead to a higher publish rate.

Our product analytics specialists are also responsible for working with other stakeholders in the company and setting up dashboards for a range of teams. For example when we launched Canva Print, the team needed to know basic metrics like order numbers, revenue and profit, and we set up the dashboards that allow them to report on those metrics. We also prepare dashboards for finance for instance, focusing on revenue information such as revenue streams by country.  

We then work with each of those teams to find the largest problems and opportunities that they have, whether that’s finding market opportunities for the Internationalisation team, or helping marketing with email deliverability by segmenting our users by browser or other characteristics.

In terms of tools, we primarily use Amplitude to help us understand the user’s life cycle journey throughout Canva. If we want to go more in depth, then we need to jump into our database and query the data using SQL. We also use Google Analytics, and Treasure Data which is our data warehouse.

Why is Canva a good place to be a digital analytics specialist?

With millions of users across 179 countries, we have loads of data to play with. As a product analyst you have a huge amount of autonomy to work with that data. Data is the air you breathe as an analyst, and to have that kind of freedom is very refreshing. You always have key priorities, but with some initiative you can essentially jump into any area of interest and come up with recommendations based on your insights.

At Canva, those recommendations you make can have a huge impact. With our growth rate and market size, there’s opportunities to improve metrics by 10x, not just 1-2 percent. It’s not the kind of job you come across every day!

For me, the biggest attraction is the opportunity to work with the leadership team and stakeholders throughout every team at Canva. As a product analyst you have a broad overview of the whole company, from product to business, and really learn how large systems work and how to drive growth in a holistic way. There are so many smart people with different skill sets across Canva, and you’re working with all of them, learning and teaching every day.

What skills and attributes are you looking for when hiring web and digital analytics specialists at Canva?

We’re looking for people who are naturally curious and proactive, and who have proven that in their previous work. You need to be analytical and pragmatic at the same time – we value data highly, but we don’t want to fall into analysis paralysis. At the end of the day, analysing data should lead to making decisions – whether that’s a product decision, a hiring decision or a growth experiment. It’s a three step process, essentially – insights, decisions and then hopefully moving the needle on our key metrics.

Stakeholder management is important as well, because you’ll need to work with people across the company to turn your insights into action. Some level of product intuition and business acumen is also good to have, because you’ll be working with the people making Canva’s product and business decisions.

In terms of concrete skills, solid experience with SQL and the ability to do statistical analysis are the most important things we look for. Experience with specific analytics platforms isn’t necessary. It’s an advantage though if you’ve worked with big data sets – with the amount of data we have, writing efficient queries becomes a factor.