Software Comparison: Canva vs. Adobe Spark
Despite 2020 putting a pause to many of the trends driving the marketing and advertising industry before the pandemic, the resurgence of the economy has many businesses striving to do more with less and minimize costs where possible. This is made even easier for small businesses with the rising number of web-based DIY graphic design tools. When queried for their preferred video production and graphic design solutions, our community offered up several industry standards, but two web-based solutions stood out as favorites for many small organizations undertaking their graphic design endeavors in-house.
Why Do You Need An Online Graphic Design Software Solution?
While there is still a place for full graphic design suites, web-based design tools are often built for businesses that need high-impact graphic design collateral but don’t have the budget to hire a third-party graphic design firm or employ and keep a well-trained graphic designer on staff. Two web-based tools that rise to the top in most discussions with the small business crowd are Canva and Adobe Spark.
In this discussion, we break down the salient features of each design platform and then draw comparisons between them to determine which tool, Canva or Spark, provides users with a more robust solution.
What is Canva?
The Canva platform was launched by an Australian development team in 2012 and has since grown into one of the most popular web-based graphic design tools on the market. As a web-based solution, Canva’s interface is both light-weight and easy to navigate, while still providing users with access to a full suite of graphic design tools powerful enough to handle any project. Canva has been able to build and maintain market share versus more robust tools in the competitive landscape of modern design tools by offering a clean and easy-to-navigate experience. Clear iconography and an intuitive menu make it easy for first-time users to find the templates and identify the right solutions for getting started on projects for various social media channels or online marketing channels. The tool can also be downloaded as an application to a mobile device.
Some of the features that help Canva to stand out from other online design tools include
- Thousands of professionally designed templates accelerate the design process
- Collaboration and team creation through professional-level access
- Canva Live provides scheduling and sharing capabilities supported by streaming functionality and live-session presentations
- Enhanced photo editing tools
What is Adobe Spark?
Accessible through a single interface, the Adobe Spark graphic design tool is in fact an integrated suite of related tools: Spark, Post, and Video that initially launched in 2016. Part of the Adobe family of creative applications, Spark can be downloaded to a mobile device or accessed via the web and allows users to edit digital images into powerful advertising graphics. The platform offers up a wide array of curated designs and assets you can add to your own content in order to put a unique spin on any project.
- Allows users to create content for any social media channel
- Create branded material quickly with unique automated content generators easily and quickly by preloading color palettes and logos
- Users can create individual web pages that can be inserted into an existing site, or used in conjunction with other pages you’ve created
Canva vs. Adobe Spark Pricing Overview
Starts at $10/month per user billed annually, or $13/month per user billed monthly
Starts at $10/month per user or $20/month for your team to access just the app; Can be bundled into Adobe’s CC pricing for Businesses, giving access to all applications for $80/month per license.
30 days of Canva Pro
Yes, 30 days of an individual license
Yes; Also free for Educators and Schools
Yes, with extremely limited usage
Canva’s pricing is fairly straightforward in that Canva is a stand-alone product, and the pricing model listed on the site only applies to Canva Pro and is on a per-user basis. Adobe Spark’s pricing model provides an advantage in that an entire creative team or agency can access the full program’s features and capabilities for a flat rate of $20 per month. Spark also has the advantage of being included with the array of Adobe applications businesses can pay $80 a month to access. Overall, Adobe Spark’s features and pricing structure offer a slightly better value compared to Canva.
Collaboration and Sharing
Graphic design projects seldom take place in a vacuum and often require input from many team members to complete and bring to a deliverable state. Each of these tools has a unique take on collaboration. Once the project is finished, you also might need a method for easily and quickly bringing your creations to the appropriate channel for consumer use.
Collaborating with Canva
Canva’s sharing and collaboration tools are fairly extensive. Even the free access level allows you to build out multiple teams of up to 3,000 users, each team fully customizable down to role assignments and hierarchy in order to control changes and access. These teams get their own organizational and storage space and can utilize the scheduling function to assign content to be posted in a number of different formats to multiple social channels at set times throughout the month. A minor limitation is that while anyone can access the platform for free and contribute at a basic level, team members can only access tools their membership level allows them to access, so in order to take full advantage of all the collaborative tools have to offer and maximize productivity, a pro account for all contributors is advised. Projects can also not be saved for offline editing; all work with Canva projects requires users to be online via the mobile application or on the website.
No Offline Collaboration is possible
Team Creation with Subgroups
While teams are free, access to premium tools is not
Storage and Organizational tools
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Adobe Spark’s Limited Collaboration and Sharing Capabilities
While Spark allows sharing across standard social channels and the ability to save projects to a shared dropbox space, it falls short on the collaborative front. The only sharing that can be done with Spark is via email or through a shared link to the project. Users can request access, and projects can also be shared through Google Drive and thus can be useful for classroom settings.
Share through Google Drive
No mass collaboration via teams
Integrates with Social Channels and Google Classroom.
Access is granted on an individual basis.
Which Platform is Better?
Canva has a clear advantage in how it handles collaborative and sharing functions. The ability to create teams and collaborate in real time on a wide scale is crucial. Further, the fact that a user can use the platform to create multiple teams makes it an invaluable resource for agencies or freelancers with multiple clients who might otherwise use some other combination of software solutions. Adobe’s sharing on a case-by-case basis is a disappointing missed opportunity for a tool that is part of the Creative Cloud suite of software solutions intended for streamlining workflows and simplifying the lives of businesses who use it.
Video, Sound, and Motion Graphics Integration
Video remains a major factor in online content creation, and being able to integrate video and motion into a project quickly and easily on a budget can mean the difference between a profitable and successful marketing campaign and one that fails. The ability to enhance digital projects with dynamic content such as sound and motion graphics is also extremely useful. Let’s see how each platform handles these enhancements.
Canva’s Multimedia Offerings
When developing Canva, the design team really took into consideration how important it was to create a stand-alone tool to handle graphic design tasks. Rather than worry about finding a content provider outside of Canva, Pro provides users access to a library of content that includes more than 2 million stock videos and over 25,000 audio tracks. In order to create motion, the platform also allows each element on the page to have its own animation type, giving users the ability to create more dynamic and engaging marketing assets.
Pro provides access to significantly more stock video and audio files.
No Audio Recording function
Animation by element
All editing takes place within Canva
Switching to Spark Video to Create Content
Integrating motion content requires us to recognize that Spark is actually three separate integrated applications and at this point, we have to swap to Spark Video, which adds a layer of complexity to the workflow that isn’t there in Canvas. Once in Spark Video, however, the interface is clean and easy to use and even allows the user to record and edit their own audio elements. You can also pull in audio files from iTunes or your own recordings to enhance your content.
Ability to pull in your own files or music clips from iTunes.
Clunky switching between apps to create video
Spark Video is itself easy to use
Limited stock content included
Ability to record audio
Compatibility and File Types
A major concern and goal when building web applications is ensuring that they integrate well with 3rd party tools and platforms and that the final output can be converted into popular and compatible file types. For online graphic design tools, their ability to link up with social media platforms for sharing and with other channels of distribution are important
Canva’s Slight Edge When it Comes to Compatibility
Canva again has an edge over Spark, this time on the compatibility and types of files that can be created. Canva can work with SVG and GIF files, which Spark cannot, and also works with other multimedia file types. One advantage the program has is that it allows the user to set the download quality of the file upon creation.
Two additional file types supported
Can download designs as SVG
Easily integrates with social channels
Set file download quality
Adobe Spark Is Sufficient and Has the Adobe CC to Back it Up
While Spark plays well with other Adobe products, it does heavily rely upon the Adobe Creative Cloud space to add functionality that Canva handles out of the box. Spark also doesn’t work with SVG or Gif files, and doesn’t allow users to set download resolutions; these are functions that can actually be handled by other Adobe products if users are subscribed to the CC and using programs like Illustrator and Photoshop.
Plays well with Google and Dropbox
No SVG or GIF download support
Leans heavily on its cross-functionality with Adobe
Which Platform is Better?
With both platforms fully functional across desktops and mobile devices as both an application and a website, it was necessary to go deeper when it came to compatibility and the ability to manipulate files. The fact that Spark relies so heavily on functionality from other Adobe products while Canva is built to handle more file types and set resolution before automatically posting through the scheduling tool to multiple channels made it an easy call to say that Canva has the advantage again.
Usability and Functionality
The whole purpose of many of these DIY solutions on the market is to bring the ability to create complex marketing materials down to a more accessible level for the average small business team of professionals who might not be well trained or versed in the field. As we approach this from the stance of Canva and Spark, it’s important to remember that both platforms are in fact very easy to use and learn. However, there are some pros and cons to each that need to be addressed.
Canva’s Usability and Functionality
Users of the platform are very impressed by how well it’s optimized for online use, and rarely have issues with lag or slow performance. As with the sheer volume of multimedia content, users also appreciate and feel much of the functional value of Canva comes from the fact that users can choose to work with any combination of more than 400,000 templates for use across all possible online platforms. However, one common complaint is that while there are a diverse number of templates visually speaking, the designs of these templates tend to be limited and repetitive in some instances, differentiated only by the target industry.
Well-optimized for online use
While flashy and creative, certain design layouts tend to be overly used and; repetitive across industries.
A wide array of templates
|No local storage|
Adobe Spark’s One Advantage Could Be a Game Changer
While Spark is an extremely versatile and powerful design tool, it has been outmaneuvered on multiple levels to this point in the conversation. However, when it comes to functionality, Spark does one amazing thing that Canva does not, and that allows the user to create web pages. Because Spark is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and it plays a number of roles similar to other, more robust tools designed for trained graphic designers, it follows that it would open up the ability to quickly make simple yet powerful web pages that can be inserted into existing websites. While it may only provide a tenth of the templates available on Canva, Spark’s approximately 40,000 templates are recognized by many industry professionals as focused more on functionality and purpose than flashy interfaces. Unfortunately for the tool, Spark could benefit from optimization on the server side to improve its performance and minimize lags and slow interface behavior when users are trying to accomplish complex design tasks.
Allows users to create web pages
Can be laggy depending on the browser and activities being performed
Templates are focused on functionality and usage; less flashy
The Overall Winner
When it comes to online applications and web-based software, the key is to ensure that the tool is as self-sufficient as possible and that the user experience leaves little to be desired. While both of these tools are very strong contenders in the DIY graphic design space, Canva’s development team has accomplished very handily the task of ensuring the tool stands on its own. It’s extremely clear that they want users to feel as if Canva solves all of their concerns and addresses their needs so that the design experience is confined to their application alone. Unfortunately for Adobe Spark, the opposite seems to be the case, with the application itself being a combination of three unique tools working in tandem across a shared interface, and many necessary functions left to other Adobe products.
Collaboration and Sharing
Compatibility and File Types
Usability and Functionality
The Overall Winner
Want to learn more about how to integrate either of these tools into your workflow, or are you looking for the opportunity to partner with other B2B service providers to find a synergy that increases profitability for you both? Learn more on the UpCity marketplace and check out UpCity’s Technology feed for more useful guidance when it comes to aligning software solutions with your marketing needs.