Adobe Suite vs. Canva: Which one is right for your online business? | Part Two: Adobe's Creative Cloud

Adobe Suite vs. Canva: Which one is right for your online business? | Emily Banks Creative

Welcome back to Part #2 of my article series comparing Canva with Adobe's Creative Cloud, and how to choose the right one as a creative tool for your business.

In Part #1, we took a deep dive into Canva and how it fares as a tool for online business. If you're interested in some of the pros and cons of Canva, you can read part one here.

In this part, we'll be breaking down Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription. And in the final part (Part #3) we'll be examining some of the important considerations that can influence your decision to use Canva or the Creative Cloud for your business, and how to choose the right one for you.

But for now, let's take a look at Adobe and the Creative Cloud Subscription.

How does Adobe’s Creative Cloud Subscription fare as a design tool for your online business?

Whereas Canva is a singular app, Adobe’s Creative Cloud (CC) subscription is a collection of apps that cover not just graphics, but also print design, video editing, audio production, web design and more.

Adobe and the apps they provide have been around for a long time - some for decades - and many are considered industry standard.

They have a couple of different plan options, but for this article, we'll be looking predominantly at their 'All Apps' plan. It costs $52.99 per month and contains 20+ creative apps, plus access to Adobe Fonts and 100GB of cloud storage. An 'All Apps' CC subscription is probably the most all-inclusive, well-rounded set of software out there for not just design, but digital creativity in all its forms.

But how do you know if it’s the right choice for your business? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

The pros of using Adobe’s Creative Cloud for your online business.

There are a ton of amazing features and abilities that make CC an awesome tool for online business owners. As a designer, but also as a business owner, almost everything I create for my business is done within a CC app. If Canva is capable of doing some heavy lifting, Adobe’s subscription is kind of like GOT’s The Mountain, who literally won the title of World’s Strongest Man (in real life).

Adobe's Creative Cloud is like The Mountain of creative / design software | Emily Banks Creative

Let’s jump into a few of the things I love most about it.

Creative Cloud is an all in one creative solution for online business.

If you’ve got a creative job that needs doing, there will almost always be a CC app that can do it. Across the full collection, there’s very little that can't be done.

There's a CC app that can take care of all of your graphics, documents and design work for both print and web, vector work for logos or illustrations, video work for youtube or for workshops and course programs, audio for podcasts, web design, photo editing, and more.

In part one of this series, we discussed Canva and a major limitation being that you’re not always able to save or export files in the correct way for their usage. That’s not something you’ll ever run into with Adobe CC. Across all the apps, there will almost always be a tool that will give you the right file and format, without having to involve any additional programs or tools.

There are no design limits with Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

Because the CC apps are considered professional level tools, they don’t carry some of the limitations that a tool like Canva does. Like we talked about in part one, as an app for beginners, Canva is very specific about the tools and features it includes to ensure that anyone can pick it up quickly. But as a pro tool, Adobe’s CC contains not only the basic features but also plenty of mid-level and advanced functions that allow you to really push design and creativity to the limit.

Push it reeeeeeaaaaal good | Emily Banks Creative

This allows for completely custom, unique work that almost never has to be dulled down or simplified by software limitations.

Many of the Creative Cloud apps are very similar.

One of the great things about the Creative Cloud is that many of the apps share similar features, tools, shortcuts, and even layouts / menus. People often have concerns about the learning curve of CC apps (we'll get to that), but the handy thing is that once you’ve learned one, the rest are a lot easier to pick up.

These similarities are especially noticeable across Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, which are the three tools I’d recommend the most for online business.

Creative Cloud gives you access to Adobe Fonts for no extra cost.

One of my favorite things about the Creative Cloud subscription is access to Adobe Fonts. Now don’t get me wrong - Google Fonts are awesome. They’re free, and there are some beautiful, well-designed fonts available through their service.

However, Adobe Fonts will open you up to a whole new world of exclusive fonts by the world’s best font and type foundries that will ensure you get the perfect fit for your brand. They’d cost you hundreds separately, but with a CC subscription they’re available for use throughout all of the CC apps and on your computer, plus the web at no extra cost. And good news if you’re on Squarespace - they integrate directly with Adobe Fonts so you’ll be able to use all your beautiful fonts there, too.

Creative Cloud has advanced, cloud-based features for saving and accessing your brand’s settings.

In part one of this series, we talked about Canva for Work and their Brand Library feature that allows you to save your color palette, font formatting, and logo files for easy access.

Adobe takes this one - or a few - steps further by allowing you to save all sorts of graphic elements (like your logo, icons, patterns, etc), intricate text formatting, color palettes, gradient swatches, and more. And on top of that, it’s entirely cloud-based. That means the same files, formatting and color swatches are accessible to you in Photoshop for your social media graphics, InDesign for your PDF’s, and even Premiere Pro for your video editing.

You can also create as many different libraries as you need. If you’ve got different businesses or projects with separate branding on the go, you can switch easily between them.

Creative Cloud is online and offline based.

Adobe has developed almost a hybrid of online and offline software with Creative Cloud. You can download and use your apps and fonts on any computer. If you set up your files to save to your Creative Cloud storage, as you work everything will be safe and accessible from anywhere. You can use their apps with no internet connection at all. And you can save an editable version of your file to your computer that can be compatible with not just Adobe products, but in many cases, other software that can handle that kind of file also.

This is still a major concern of mine with Canva, as they still don’t have any kind of offline, source file saving or download abilities. With Adobe, you can always keep a copy of your source files safe somewhere.

The cons of using Adobe’s Creative Cloud for your online business.

Creative Cloud apps are incredibly powerful and flexible, and they contain many awesome features. But not every tool is perfect - not even industry standard ones. There are still a few obvious downsides and sticking points that come with a CC subscription that I personally don’t love, and I know many others feel the same. Let’s break down some of the cons.

A Creative Cloud All Apps subscription is expensive.

This has to be the major issue for many people - including myself and other designers - when it comes to Creative Cloud and Adobe products these days. There’s no getting around the fact that $52.99 USD per month is a lot of money, especially if you’re just starting out.

The most frustrating part about the pricing of the CC services is that while an entirely affordable plan for Photographers (including Photoshop and Lightroom) exists, there is no similar bundle for Graphic Designers or business owners. It’s more cost effective to subscribe to their highest tier plan - the All Apps Bundle - than it is to subscribe individually to only the apps you need if you’re after any more than two. I only use about 5 of my 20+ available apps, so it’s not hard to feel like it’s a little unfair to have to pay for features and programs that you don’t need.

Adobe justifies their pricing (and their ongoing price increases) with the fact that not only do they include extra features like Adobe Fonts and cloud storage, but they also update each app every year with the newest features. Whether that justification is enough is something you'll have to decide for yourself - more on that in Part #3.

With a Creative Cloud Subscription, you’re at the mercy of Adobe - and they don’t have the best track record.

Obviously, with any tool, program or piece of software, you’re completely at the mercy of the creators or owners of it. At any time they could decide to take their product in a direction that could make things difficult for you. Unfortunately, Adobe has a bit of a reputation for doing just that.

They’ve been known to suddenly hike up their prices without a lot of warning, chop and change what apps and features are a part of their subscriptions, and occasionally roll out software that is buggy and not 100% ready. We can safely assume they’re not likely to drop the core products you’ll need for your business any time soon. But that doesn't make the pricing and software changes any less irritating.

Granted, Adobe does a lot of innovating and sometimes the unexpected changes turn out to be awesome. Being at their mercy often comes with the territory of using products published or created by a large scale, international company, but it is something to consider.

Some of the Creative Cloud apps have a bit of a learning curve.

This is a big one. I totally understand if you’ve ever opened up Photoshop, taken one look at it, and noped the eff out of there. I certainly did the first time. Learning what all of the buttons and boxes and effects do is a little bit like learning another language, and it can feel super daunting. Without a doubt, the CC apps are more difficult to pick up than Canva, but they're certainly not impossible, even for beginners.

Most people when the open an Adobe product for the first time | Emily Banks Creative

If you choose to use Adobe CC (part three of this series will help you figure out why you might want to), my advice would be to learn only what you really need to begin with. You definitely don’t need to know what all the buttons do. You can choose your own adventure and only learn the tools you’ll actually use. There are plenty of great basic tutorials available for free on YouTube or short courses on sites like Skillshare.

Creative Cloud isn’t a web-based app - it’s a collection of programs. And with programs, come licensing limits.

When we analyzed Canva in Part #1, we discussed how the nature of it being web-based means that it’s available on any device, anywhere at any time.

The Creative Cloud, however, is more like a collection of downloadable programs than a web-based app (despite them calling their software ‘apps’) and that means they function more like traditional programs. Adobe imposes a limit of two devices that your subscription can be active on at any given time.

It is possible to use it on more than two - you just have to deactivate one first. I’ve done this while on holiday with a borrowed laptop and simply switched them back over later. So it’s not impossible to use CC apps anywhere on any computer, but it’s definitely clunkier than the solution Canva offers.

Which brings me to my final limitation with Adobe...

Adobe are yet to produce any decent, fully functional Creative Cloud mobile apps - which is frustrating for online business owners.

You’ll notice that in my last point about licensing I said you could use your CC apps on any computer - not any device. It’s 2019, and while Adobe has a decent Lightroom mobile app for photo editing, their Photoshop Express and Sketch, Illustrator Draw, and Premiere Rush mobile apps still feel like shells of their computer-based counterparts. Other apps don’t even have a mobile version. Meanwhile, Canva’s mobile app almost matches its browser app in functionality.

The wide range of features in the CC apps means that it’s impossible at this stage to include all of their functionality within a mobile app. But the apps they do have still feel weak. This means that for the most part, all your design work will need to be done at a computer.

It’s not so bad if you do the majority of work at your computer anyway, but it’s definitely irritating to not be able to open up your Instagram template and make a quick edit on the go.

That’s a wrap on Adobe’s Creative Cloud for online business!

Adobe’s products are industry standard for a reason, but there are still some frustrations and downsides that should be taken into consideration before choosing it as the be all, end all tool for your online business. So if you’re already using any Creative Cloud apps or planning to, I hope that this breakdown has helped you understand some of the pros and cons.

In the next (and final) part of this series, I’ll be breaking down some important considerations that can influence your decision to use Canva or the Creative Cloud, and how to choose the right one for you and the business you’ve got today and that you’ll grow into the future.

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And if you’ve got any questions about Creative Cloud apps or design in general, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer you.


See you in the next one!


Emily Banks - Emily Banks Creative.

Adobe Suite vs. Canva: Which one is right for your online business? | Emily Banks Creative