Adobe Suite vs. Canva: Which one is right for your online business? | Part Three: How to choose.

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

Welcome back to the third and final part of my series on Canva vs. Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

In Part #1, we took an in-depth look into Canva, and in Part #2 we analyzed the Creative Cloud to see how each fare as design tools for online business owners.

In this part, we’ll be breaking down some of the important factors that you should consider before choosing one for your business, and how to pick the tool that’s best suited to your business now and in the future.

Canva or Creative Cloud: Which one is the better tool for your online business?

Having looked at the features and limitations of each tool, and some of the pros and cons of using them, we can say that overall:

  • Canva is an awesome beginners tool. You can pick it up fairly quickly and can take you a long way, especially with digital design. But it might not take you all the way - specifically as far as logos, more complex design or print materials are concerned.

  • The Creative Cloud is definitely a set of pro tools, and they’ve got a bit of a learning curve involved. But they’re incredibly powerful and can take design almost as far as you could ever need it to go. They can also create more types of content in different formats than Canva.

So how do you choose which one makes the most sense for you and your business? There are a few things to consider...

Where is your online business at right now?

If you’re just getting started with your business, Canva is generally a good choice. It’s budget-friendly, easy to pick up, and their templates and pre-made elements can save you a lot of time and hassle.

In the beginning stages of getting an online business running, there’s a ton to do with limited time and energy. So it’s definitely important to spend that time where you’ll get the most impactful return. Learning how to use Photoshop might not give you a whole lot of return in the beginning.

So if you’re in those early stages, and you’re not too concerned with having an exclusive, custom brand, sticking with Canva (or Canva for Work) might be the best option for you.

On the flipside, if you’ve been running your business for a while, making consistent sales, and you’ve got a bit more of a budget for business tools, it might be time to consider the Creative Cloud.

At this stage of business, you’re likely to need more flexibility in terms of design requirements and file / content types. If that’s you, upgrading to the Creative Cloud is likely a better option.

What will your online business look like in the future?

If you’re building a personal business - a business made up of just you - and you intend on keeping it that way for some time, Canva can be an awesome design partner for that journey. If you’re happy to jump in and DIY most of your digital design work, using a tool that is straightforward and accessible can save you a ton of time.

However, if you’re intending to grow your business to a place where you have a team or outsource graphic design, it can be worth your time to use and have a basic understanding of the Creative Cloud and its apps. If that's where you see your business going, it could be worthwhile to start learning now.

Having even a base level idea of how those programs work can be useful to you as a business owner. It can help you understand:

  • How / why your designer can or can’t complete certain requests.

  • How to ask for certain designs or effects

  • How long you can expect things to take

  • What kind of files are appropriate for different usage situations.

And plenty of other things, too. Plus, if you ever need to, knowing how to use CC apps will allow you to take over control of your files and work on them yourself.

Even if you're not going to personally touch any graphic design work once you've hired it out, it can still be beneficial to have your business's design work be done in Creative Cloud apps. Your designer will likely be an expert in CC apps, but not all designers will be comfortable using Canva. Allowing your team to use the tools they’re best at will often produce the best work.

There is another major reason it's better to let your designer use CC apps, but we'll get to that soon.

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

What kind of content are you creating for your online business?

If the content you create mostly falls within the scope of digital graphic design,  you can definitely get away with doing all of that in Canva. Think blog post / Pinterest graphics, Instagram templates, PDF documents, etc.

However, if you’re intending on introducing other types of content, like:

  • YouTube videos

  • Video courses

  • Podcasts

  • Photography

  • Print material like business cards, physical planners & workbooks

  • Any real-world advertising or signage

And more, you’ll need additional apps or programs to create those items.

If you’re already paying for Canva for Work, and then you need to look at paying for an app for each of those purposes, you’ll likely get more value out of a CC all apps subscription.

At this stage, it’s important to note that some of these factors influence each other. For example, if you’re just starting out and your budget is low, a CC subscription might not be accessible to you even if you plan on eventually growing a team or offering many kinds of content. There are plenty of free or low-cost options for some of those types of apps and programs available out there. So in theory, you could use 5-6 different apps from different sources to cover all of those jobs for a lower cost than a CC subscription.

However, with a CC subscription, you get the added benefits of:

  • Many of their apps function similarly

  • Some CC files are compatible across apps

  • CC Libraries hold all your design settings in the cloud for use in each app.

That level of efficiency and integration for content creation purposes might be more valuable to you if your business is a bit further down the track.

How much do you care about design + customization for your brand?

If you’re looking for some clean, professional visuals to get the job done while you focus your energy into the products or services you provide, Canva is a great option. Taking advantage of their templates and pre-made elements can save you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to DIY-ing your design.

But if you care a lot about having a unique brand that feels completely custom to you and reflects the work you do, there will often be limitations in Canva. It can prevent you from executing that custom design to the fullest extent. The pre-made elements there will definitely not be as exclusive or fit as well as something that was created specifically for your business.

How much do you care about having a copy of your brand’s source files?

Like we talked about in the first two parts of this series, there is a very big difference between the files that you save in Canva and the files that you save through Creative Cloud apps.

As Canva is entire online / web-based, all of the files you create live within their system. As of writing, there is no way to save a source or editable version of your designs from Canva to your computer or hard drive. On the other hand, CC apps can save source files to both your computer and to cloud storage. In many cases, they can even be exported as files that are compatible in other, non-Adobe software.

With Canva, you run the risk of losing all of your designs entirely if anything were to ever happen to your account or to Canva’s systems. When you save a file from a CC app, you can always keep a copy safe somewhere. Yes, files can corrupt and hard drives can break, but if you keep multiples or cloud copies you’re still safer than if you were to rely on someone else’s web-based system.

Remember the other reason I mentioned that you should let your designer use the Creative Cloud? Here it is. If you're working with a designer, you've likely invested money into their services. If you ask them to design for you in Canva, neither you nor they can guarantee that the designs they’ve created will be available long term. Those designs you’ve paid for could disappear in the event that anything happened to Canva. They’d then have to be re-made, which could cost you more.

So if you’re looking to invest money in design, Creative Cloud is potentially a safer option to ensure you don’t lose what you’ve paid for.

If you need to make the switch, how much time / money / effort will it take - and is it worth it to you?

Having considered all of the other points, I’ve got one last question for you. If you’ve ever had to switch from one tool to another for anything, you’ll know it rarely goes to plan in any kind of quick or simple way.

You’ve looked at Canva and the Creative Cloud and decided that Canva will likely get you by for now, but you might need to switch in the future. Ask yourself, how much time, effort or money will it take to make the switch? Does it seem worth it to you?

For example, if somewhere down the track you’d need to switch from Canva to Creative Cloud and you’re happy to do all of the work yourself, maybe all you lose is your time. If you plan on keeping the designs you’ve got, it could mean a significant amount of time as you’ll have to re-make them all. But it’s up to you to decide if that time is worth the money you’d save by choosing to use Canva in the first place.

If you don’t plan on doing it yourself, you might have to pay someone to convert the designs. Depending on the number of designs you have, it could become expensive. In this scenario, it might make more sense to start with CC apps earlier, even at a higher price point.

But if you’re planning on switching at the same time as hiring a designer to create all new work for you, maybe it’s worth it as you won’t be needing the old designs converted anyway.

So whatever your plan is, it’s definitely worth considering what switching will involve and whether switching at all makes sense.

I hope this has helped you make the choice between Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Canva for your online business!

There’s definitely no one right answer, and a lot will depend on the specifics of your business and what is more important to you right now and in the future.

If you'd like to know the pros and cons that the main considerations from this article were based on, click here to read Part #1 on Canva, and here to read Part #2 about Creative Cloud.

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And if you’ve got any questions about Creative Cloud apps, Canva, 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