Many users out there are after software they can create visual marketing materials easily and all in one platform, without needing to be professional designers to do so.
User-friendly design apps Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud Express stand out as perfect solutions for this kind of user. With their drag-and-drop editor, their high-quality templates, and their web apps and mobile apps, they can take care of graphic designs in a way other apps cannot.
Today, we compare Adobe Creative Cloud Express vs Canva to help you figure out which one is more cost-effective and better suited for your design experience.
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After a thorough comparison, we conclude that Canva makes for the more user-friendly tool of the two, for those with no experience in graphic design, and it is ideal for those looking to boost the visual elements of their business without investing a lot of time or money. It also has more templates available.
Creative Cloud Express is a winner for those with a bit more interest in the artistic aspect of marketing and design and has slightly more powerful features. It has the prestige of being part of Adobe’s ecosystem. Plus, the video editor is superior.
To see a detailed comparison, read ahead!
Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark) is a user-friendly design tool that combines the main and most popular features from Adobe’s signature apps –like Photoshop or Illustrator–, in a simplified way to be accessible for those with no advanced design skills.
It handles image editing and video editing, has lots of collaborative features, and it has lots of professional design templates and preset elements, not to mention free images plus full integration with Adobe Stock.
It’s ideal for those who want the professionalism and prestige from Adobe products –and from designing with them– without going through the hassle of learning how to work with their pro-grade apps.
Read more: Adobe Creative Cloud Express review
Even more info: Adobe Stats
Cool discounts: Adobe discount codes
If you prefer Photoshop: Photoshop Free Trial
Canva is a design tool for non-designers and was a pioneer in its kind. This online platform integrates a simple drag-and-drop image editor, millions of creative resources between templates, stock images, and other graphic elements, and powerful premium features for online marketing.
User-friendliness is at the core of Canva’s service, and the learning curve to use it is a flat line. They have options for individuals, teams, and for enterprises.
Canva is a sort of one-stop-shop for visual content creation, for those who don’t know much about design but want great graphics in little time.
Read more: Canva review
Even more info: Canva stats
Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud Express are very similar in terms of functionality, but there are some small differences that set them apart. Let’s see.
While both tools pitch themselves as user-friendly, and they certainly are, Canva is the easiest to use of the two. It has virtually no learning curve: you can open the website and start designing in a couple of clicks even if you never used an image editor before because it’s highly intuitive and straightforward. Sure, the results improve if you care to learn –and they provide tutorials to assist you–, but it’s perfectly possible to design an acceptable graphic almost from the get-go.
Creative Cloud Express’ user-friendliness is more relative. It is certainly A LOT easier to use than Adobe’s flagship products like Photoshop, for example, which require specific skills and considerable training, and Express’ layout is intuitive enough that it doesn’t take that long to figure out how everything works. Although it takes a bit longer to get familiarized with this app, it is also true that it has slightly more advanced features, powered by Adobe’s signature tools. For example, layer control is a lot better here than in Canva.
Users go to these tools looking for a way to create visuals for specific needs –presentations, resumes, flyers, business cards, posters, logos, etc.– easily and quickly. For this reason, image editing and design elements are at the core of their offer.
Adobe Express’ image editor is accessible after selecting either a template or a blank canvas. The editor’s layout is simple, all main features are accessible in plain sight, and most actions are drag-and-drop, or clicks on buttons. You can select stock images, graphic elements, fonts, and colors, upload your own photos, add filters, and more. Among the coolest features, CC Express has a “Find a new style” button where you can explore new font styles and combinations for your text, retaining all the other design elements in place. Another great resource is their series of “quick actions” that you can access from the main menu, where you can perform specific tasks like deleting a background, resizing an image, or converting a file’s format. Plus, it has a great layer control –similar to Photoshop but simplified– that makes it easy to work with multiple elements in one design. You can download your project in PNG, JPG, or PDF for free, other formats are available with a Premium plan. Express has an integration with Google Drive, too, to help share your project with your team further away from the platform.
Canva image editor was a groundbreaking tool back on the day of its launch, pioneering the concept of an easy-to-use tool that produced professional-like results. Canva editor is highly intuitive and approachable –more so than Express–, you can open it either by choosing one of the suggested templates or clicking a “create a design” button for a clean canvas. Here too, you have all your basic needs covered in terms of uploading custom elements, selecting templates, color palettes, stock media, text styles, and more. One of the highlights is that you can turn your design into a shareable and customizable template for others to use, for free, and in a couple of clicks. In Express such an option is available, but it’s a bit more cumbersome and locked behind the Premium threshold. As for team sharing, you can do so with a link that works similarly to a Google Drive one, but in-app.
Stock Images & Templates
When it comes to templates and design elements, Canva templates take the lead as they have millions of professionally designed templates ready to use. Creative Cloud Express has a smaller selection of templates –still rich enough for most users–, but it is mostly due to having launched much more recently. We can expect them to quickly catch up.
As for stock imagery, CC Express includes a library of free stock media, as well as full integration with Adobe Stock –read our Adobe Stock review for more details on this service– with 200+ million, high-res images. Adobe Stock is paid separately, but you can always unlock the Adobe Stock free trial with up to 40 premium images free for one month, and use it in connection with Creative Cloud Express. Adobe Stock’s photos are artsy and commercially valuable, so it’s a real advantage creatively speaking.
Now Canva also has a free image library you can peruse and use, but a Canva Pro subscription (paid) gets you unlimited access to their proprietary catalog with 60+ million images. The affordable pricing –more on this below– combined with unlimited downloads make it a nice deal if you are looking for budget-friendly stock photos.
Most users of these tools find very useful the ability to set/change the dimensions of their design easily – for different social media platforms, for example.
Canva has the Magic Resize feature that, as the name kind of gives away, can resize a graphic in just one click. All you have to do is select the desired size from a list, and click “resize”. That’s it. In the Pro version, you can even select more than one size at once, so you can create all the graphics for your campaign in one click. Very simple.
Adobe Creative Cloud Express has an automatic resizing tool of its own, which is also simple to use, albeit it requires a few extra steps if you want multiple image sizes. Mainly, you need to duplicate your design, open it as a new project and then select the new desired size. But again, just click to accept, and it’ll be done before your eyes in a second.
The ability to create image cutouts, or make transparent backgrounds to then replace them, is also one of the most sought-after by creatives. This is a task that would take a lot of time with conventional design tools.
Canva’s Background Remover can automatically remove a background from an image when you select the element(s) to keep. And in its advanced features, it also lets you manually select areas to make sure the cutout is precise. However, this is available in Canva Pro only, so you cannot use it for free.
Creative Cloud Express, on the other hand, has a powerful background removing a feature that gets rid of an image background in one swift movement, powered by Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Sensei tech. Here, too, you can manually adjust your selection. What is cool, though, is that it is included in the free version of CC Express, so a lot of users are taking advantage of this free feature.
Social media graphics
Social media images are what most users of online design tools are looking to create. Customizable templates are the ideal solution for this, especially because both tools make sure the image dimensions and file size are appropriate to ensure a good visualization on mobile devices.
Canva has specific templates for every possible social media platform, and every possible element within them –Instagram posts, Instagram stories, Instagram Reels, Instagram carousel, etc.–. And there is a huge variety of themes, styles, and purposes for every one of them. It’s really very complete.
Creative Cloud Express, as we mentioned before, has less number of templates in its library. But that doesn’t mean it’s not useful! It still covers pretty much all popular social media posts and their dimensions and has enough variety in each that you can certainly find something that meets your needs.
Those using design tools for their business or brand will love the fact you can create a logo for your company without being a designer or having to hire one.
The Canva free logo maker is a fool-proof tool to come up with a professional-looking logo. You have thousands of professionally designed templates, plus millions of free elements like icons and illustrations, and you can customize your design with beautiful font pairings, your chosen colors, and more. Not only that, but in the Pro version, you can also see your design in products via Smartmockups, and resize your logo in one click with Magic Resize.
There is also Creative Cloud Express logo maker, which is free for all and actually designs the logo for you. You start by entering your industry/field, your company name, and your slogan. Next, you must pick a graphic style that resonates with you from a few samples given. Finally, you are required to select an icon from a long list of them (there’s a search bar to help you find the right one). With this input, the software creates about 50 logo designs for you, in different colors and styles. You can pick one and further customize it in the CC Express image editor, keep it as is, or go back and change some parameters to see different suggestions. Once you have the perfect logo, you can download it for free.
Video content is every day more popular in terms of visual communication but also harder to create when you don’t have video editing skills. Luckily, both these design solutions include a video editing tool on their platforms, as well as libraries with stock videos.
The Canva Video editor is very competent, it works similar to their image editor: here too you find professional templates, millions of stock videos, stock music tracks, and more graphic elements, that you can combine with your custom film and edit in a simple timeline editor that doesn’t require experience to use. With Canva Pro, you can also add animations, and use Magic Resize to instantly set your video clips to different dimensions. Overall, the functions are basic but produce very good results.
Adobe Express video editor has a step-by-step process for video creation. You start by entering an initial idea or working title for your video (you can change it later), then a video template that is based on intention –promote an idea, a hero’s journey, teach a lesson, etc.– or a blank video canvas. Once that’s done, you land in the video editor and can start customizing your project: add your video, choose stock videos and music tracks from Adobe Stock or from the free library, modify the layout, including text, select themes, etc. This editor's layout is a lot cleaner, so it might appear less powerful, but in reality, it has much more advanced features than Canva's, powered by professional tools like Adobe Premiere Pro, which also makes it a tad more complicated to use.
Can’t talk about social media images without talking about memes!
Adobe Creative Cloud Express’ free meme generator is open to all users and it’s dead simple to use: you select a template or start with a blank meme sheet, add your header text, and further customize if needed. You can even create animated memes with this tool!
The Canva meme generator is also free and comes with lots of customizable templates that are easy to discover through tabs like “funny”, “inspirational”, “playful”, etc. You may also use a blank canvas and add your text and images for a completely original meme.
Mobile App/Web App
One key point in both Creative Cloud Express and Canva is that they’re web-based tools. You can open and work on them on most mainstream browsers and operative systems (Mac and Windows, Safari and Chrome, etc.). But for some users, particularly mobile users, having an installable app is desirable.
The good news is both Express and Canva have apps available for Apple and Windows desktops, as well as for iOS and Android mobile platforms so you can design more comfortably on your mobile device. In both cases, you can download and install the app for free, you only pay if you upgrade to a premium membership.
However, Canva still requires an Internet connection to use, and Express has very limited offline functionality. So you still have to be connected to high-speed Internet if you want to design comfortably and avoid lag issues.
Each one of these design apps has a free version and at least one premium option, as well as a free trial for the said premium plan. Adobe Express is the winner in terms of the lowest price, but Canva has a longer free trial and a less restrictive free service.
In Canva, you can have a free plan for as long as you want. It gives you access to 250K templates, with over 100 different design types, hundreds of thousands of free images and graphic elements, real-time collaboration features, 5GB of cloud storage, and unlimited downloads of projects. Plus, you can use premium elements (like a template or a stock photo) paying as you go, without a subscription.
Express also has a free-forever membership –basically, you can access it with just your Adobe account–, that comes with thousands of design templates, graphic assets, and fonts as well as a limited selection of free images from Adobe Stock, basic editing features –note: background remover and animation tools are included– and 2GB storage. You may acquire Adobe Stock content on-demand, at your discretion.
Free Trial for Premium Version
Creative Cloud Express has a one-month free trial offer for their single Premium plan, with full access to the premium service during this time. The way it works, you get the first 30 days of a premium subscription for free, so you must either cancel before the first month is up, or stay subscribed and you will be billed from the second month onwards.
What is cool about this free trial is that it’s available for month-to-month subscriptions as well as for the annual plan (more on this in a moment), so you don’t have to assume a long commitment either way.
Now Canva. On their website, they offer a standard, 30-day free trial. But through our collaboration with them, we are happy to offer you an extended, 45-day free trial for Canva Pro, their premium subscription! This gives you two extra weeks of completely free access to all its features and resources. It’s a deal not to miss.
The Canva Pro free trial gives you the first month and a half free, from an annual subscription. So if you are happy with the service you can stay subscribed and you’ll be billed once the trial is up. If not, you can cancel free of charge before the trial period is up.
Canva Pro subscription is a well-rounded service, with it you gain access to unlimited downloads for 100+ million premium stock images and related stock media, 610K+ professional templates, the Background Remover and the Magic Resize tools, 100GB storage space, and even better: a Brand Kit feature to easily keep all your visuals on-brand, and a publishing tool to manage all your content for social platforms right within Canva.
For one and up to 5 team members, Canva Pro is $12.99/mo with a monthly plan, or $119.99 a year, paid upfront – which breaks down to $9.99 per month.
There are options for larger teams –up to 50 and even custom teams–, as well as an Enterprise membership, and discounts for students and educators.
Even better, with our exclusive Canva Pro coupon code, you get a 15% off in Canva Pro for one year!
Express Premium account includes unlimited access (and downloads) from 160+ million Adobe Stock images, over 20K Adobe fonts, all premium templates, branding features, premium tools like refining cutouts and more, integration with Creative Cloud libraries, 100GB storage, and a nice bonus: access to premium features from other Adobe products such as Premiere Rush, Photoshop Express, Spark Video, and Spark Page.
All of that, you can get for $9.99/mo, or $99.99/year paid in advance which reduces the monthly cost to just $8.33. If you’re a student or educator, Creative Cloud for education has custom pricing for you.
As you see, Express is cheaper, but not by a lot. Both services are really affordable considering the great value of their services.
In our opinion, both these tools are very robust and really do what they say.
Creative Cloud Express is the perfect match for Adobe fans, but also for anyone who wants the professional stamp that comes from working with Adobe tools in your designs. It is also ideal for users who know at least a bit of design and have an interest in visual creativity, as it’s geared towards the artistic community.
Canva is the best solution for people who really don’t know much about graphic design –and don’t care much for it other than appreciating beautiful visuals and their effectiveness for their goals–, and who are after a tool that delivers good results without too much input or effort.
Which one of these user profiles fits you better? Let us know!