How the University of Portland achieved a 98% reduction in design turnaround times with Canva


  • Prior to using Canva, the University of Portland faced challenges in efficiently creating assets that were brand consistent.
  • Staff leverage Magic Resize, Background Remover, Whiteboards, Presentations, Smart Mockups, and Canva Print to streamline workflows.
  • With Canva for Campus, University of Portland staff have seen a 98% reduction in design turnaround times and have saved 468 hours on operational logistics per year.

About University of Portland

The University of Portland(opens in a new tab or window) holds a unique position in Oregon's educational landscape. It remains the only institution in Oregon housing a College of Arts and Sciences, graduate school and nationally accredited programs in business, education, engineering and nursing.

With an enrollment of 3,730 students, the school has earned national recognition for their student Fulbright Awards and consistently ranks in the top 10 for western regional universities.

The Challenge

Before introducing Canva into their operations, the University of Portland was grappling with a series of challenges stifling their efficiency and creativity.

Prior to Canva, their design software required extensive staff hand-holding. However, the need for such training was reduced once Canva was adopted. Canva freed up time and resources, allowing the university to focus more on creating quality content and less on the technical aspects of design.

Beyond this, the university was wrestling with off-brand content and saw the need for a more unified brand strategy.

Christopher Long, Learning Operations Manager at the university, managed the campus-wide roll-out of Canva.

“Many departments were doing their own thing, going rogue and we did have issues with marketing materials getting out there that were not on brand or representative of our story,” says Christopher. “This was the push to get more unified and have a tool that could support us in this mission.”

“What Canva has done is give people an incredibly useful and easy to use design tool while also providing access to brand materials, assets and templates so they can tell their brand story and be on brand while doing so.”

Laurence Cox, Administrative Assistant to the Dean, and Clare Spinner, Admissions Counselor, both remember the difficulties of using previous software. These programs were not only tricky to use, but caused issues like document corruption when editing. For them, Canva makes creating digital media simple and fun again.

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I have found projects can be completed more quickly and more collaboratively now, because of Canva’s easy sharing features. Everyone can log on and view brand guidelines within Canva, which makes designing new merchandise, t-shirts and totes super efficient and streamlined.

Clare Spinner

Admissions Counselor, University of Portland

Canva for Campus significantly improved efficiency of workflows and collaboration methods for University of Portland faculty.

The Solution

Canva has proven an invaluable tool for campaign management at the University of Portland.

During their PilotsGive(opens in a new tab or window) fundraising drive, the College of Arts and Sciences used Canva's templates to secure second place out of all schools in the region. Canva's Magic Resize feature was used to transform posters into retractable banners, while Smart Mockups and Background Remover were used for merchandising items.

“We were provided a folder of social media templates and stickers from Canva,” says Laurence. “I was able to add images from the College of Arts and Science archive of students in various programs. We were able to put out a whole series of posters on social media this way and for the first time, we were able to create a social presence for a major multi-day event.”

Canva's Visual Suite has been instrumental in assembling a cohesive workflow in the university’s Tutoring Center – in particular the Whiteboards and Presentations tools.

The ability to drag and drop symbols and figures within digital whiteboards has expedited the tutoring process, making it more interactive and engaging for students by providing a visual aid to simplify complex concepts.

University of Portland harnessses Canva’s Whiteboards for dynamic and engaging learning.

“Canva’s going to continue to grow and grow with the university's needs. It’s a very good price point to jump in and it’s cutting edge,” adds Christopher.

Easy collaboration across teams

Collaboration is easier thanks to Canva's user-friendly interface too, which allows for quick sharing of links and real-time commenting across teams when approval is necessary.

“Our admissions team has about 11 members,” says Clare. “We all collaborate on different slide decks. It’s great to be able to collaborate online, everyone can just jump into the same document, at the same time, and everyone can see what’s being updated.”

Canva has been rolled out to both students and faculty at the University of Portland, with 154 student accounts currently in use and more to be added soon.

"Canva really promotes creative portfolio development. All with cross disciplinary application, on a user friendly interface,” says Clare.

Using designer-made templates to enhance brand consistency

Laurence says that before Canva many internal marketing materials looked like were designed using a basic word processor.

Now, with Canva, university staff can easily integrate text and graphics in the same document and customize designer-made templates with on-brand colors and fonts for a consistent look.

Canva’s Brand Kit allows the University of Portland to keep their colors, fonts, and logos in a central place for accessibility.

The university's administrative team has also harnessed the power of Canva to design a distinctive logo which is now recognized all over campus. Incorporating the university's color scheme, they designed a graphic which represents the institution's identity and serves as a visual beacon, drawing the eyes of prospective students.

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Canva has made it easier to make simple, attractive and informative marketing materials. In the past, we would work closely over long periods with the marketing team. However, Canva gives us more ownership.

Dr. Vijlee

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Associate Professor (Shiley School of Engineering), University of Portland

Likewise, the university has extended its branding to wearable accessories. Using Canva Print, they have produced shirts and tote bags bearing the institution's logo, promoting the university’s brand and fostering a sense of community among students and staff.

“Before Canva, if we wanted to take a design and print it for our mail shop or print center we’d have to go through a lengthy campus process,” says Clare. “But now, we can just share the design with our Canva account and our mail center is able to take care of it and order prints on their own. Canva has allowed us to skip those intermediate steps.”

University of Portland leverages Canva Print to efficiently design branded merchandise featuring their institution’s logo.

New ways to save time and money

According to Christopher, the university has saved approximately 468 hours annually on operational logistics by switching to Canva.

“On average, we save 8 to 10 hours per week, between questions and troubleshooting,” he says.

When the University of Portland switched to Canva for Campus, they saved an estimated 468 hours on operational logistics per year.

This is largely attributed to the user-friendly nature of the platform, which allows users to effortlessly manipulate designs without external help.

The efficiency of operations has seen a remarkable boost as a result, staff have seen a 98% reduction in design turnaround times. Tasks like producing flyers for events, which previously took an entire afternoon, are now completed in mere minutes.

With Canva for Campus, University of Portland staff have seen a 98% reduction in design turnaround times.

“I recommend Canva for ease of use and professional quality design,” says Laurence. “You can make eye-catching materials with very little formal training.”

This enhanced productivity has clear financial benefits, too. Canva’s flexibility has reduced the need for external resources. Most of the university's design work is done in-house now, with designers frequently collaborating with other campus organizations.

I would recommend Canva if you are trying to tell a unified brand story amongst various organizations, and need a dynamic, easy-to-use design tool to do so.
Christopher Long
Learning Operations Manager, University of Portland
Reduction in design turnaround times with Canva for Campus
468 hrs
Time saved in operational logistics annually with Canva for Campus
8-10 hrs/wk
Time saved in operational logistics with Canva for Campus

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