Microsoft recently launched what it’s branding as a “preview” of a free (for now at least) social media graphics design tool called Designer.

You can read about its features here.

The thing which is innovative about this is how it’s using the Dall-E AI tool to attack the Canva market for comms graphics with generative AI instead of a vast library of templates, although it does include them and access to existing stock photos.

How it works

You start by typing in a text description of what you want to create.

Text input window.

Designs with images/video preview appear on the Right panel and you can zoom in to each to see more detail.Design options preview.

Choose one to edit its elements, including template, ratio, size, replacing the image with another stock photo, one of your own or use generative AI to make one.

Design start template
Replacing a photo.

You can input your Brand Kit fonts & colours (like Canva) using the Brand Kit button.

Brand Kit customisation

Each design comes with text you can edit fully.

Text editing

You can resize the image for outputs from a list of options or Customize the size and before downloading your result as a PNG, JPEG or PDF.

Image resize options
Download options

All your past designs are saved in ‘My Designs’ under a dropdown at top left of the page.

My Designs area

Summary thoughts

  • For a free tool this is very impressive
  • I love the intuitive User Interface and experience. As good as Canva Pro.
  • Good relevant design and photo options from short text input. But if you want something really creative, you should hire a professional graphic designer.
  • Good and easy-to-use edit options, including adding brand fonts and colours.
  • AI photo-generative capacity enables more options for image replacement. But be aware of the ethical issues around this (over rights of creators whose images were used to train the AI model).

Overall: This is a good option for social graphics if you can’t afford a professional designer, Canva or other paid options.

UPDATE: after several more hours of use, some extra conclusions.

  • Designer is better for quick reactive social graphics than Canva because it avoids choice overwhelm, so quicker. I created this in about a minute in response to a moment of inspiration.
    Coronation Sunday social graphic
  • Its image generative capacity (from DALL-E) is its superpower e.g. see this created by Becky Keene

Space dog design by Becky Keene.The same prompt in Canva Pro generates a big list of templates similar but not spot-on. These were at the top.

Canva Pro space dog cover options.

Try it yourself via this link