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Adobe Express vs Canva: A Neck-to-Neck Graphic Design Battle

Adobe Express vs Canva - Graphic Design Battle

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

Adobe Express and Canva are both excellent online graphic design tools with sophisticated features, user-friendly interfaces, and competitive pricing.

Adobe Express vs Canva – TL;DR Summary & Recommendation

Canva and Adobe Express can both be used by anyone with limited design skills and budget, to create multiple kinds of graphic designs including flyers, logos, social media graphics, and more.

The biggest difference between Adobe Express and Canva is in terms of design features, suitability for business needs, and user-friendliness.

Canva offers plenty more premade templates and is more beginner and user-friendly, while Adobe Express has slightly more advanced features and may suit those with some design knowledge.

Canva is better for small businesses and collaborations whereas Adobe Express is a better design tool for single users or big businesses.

Now let’s get into the details.

I’ve got to say at the start, this is a tough one.

I do a lot of software comparisons, but these two are extremely neck-to-neck, so I have taken special care with this one.

Read through this post thoroughly if you want a detailed comparison and know which tool is better for which purposes.

Adobe Express vs Canva - Best ONLINE Graphic Design Tool for Business

Canva Overview

Canva revolutionized the world of design when it was launched in 2012 to help those with zero design skills create multiple types of graphic designs.

Canva’s prebuilt templates, access to millions of stock images and graphic elements, and drag-and-drop interface have helped individuals, freelancers, businesses, and students meet their graphic design needs without paying high fees for an external designer.

Since its launch, Canva has come a long way by consistently adding multiple features to make designing for individuals and businesses much more efficient.

Adobe Express Overview

Adobe Express is the short name for Adobe Creative Cloud Express.

It was initially called Adobe Spark (launched in 2016) and also offers templates and drag-and-drop features to help non-designers create multiple types of graphic designs.

The Adobe Creative Cloud Suite includes Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Adobe Premiere, and a few more of the best design tools in the industry.

Adobe Express combines some of the basic features of the above best Adobe tools, in an easy-to-use online app, in a sort of express version. That’s why it’s called Creative Cloud Express.

Adobe Spark was rebranded as Adobe Express in 2021. While Adobe Spark was also an online design tool, with the new extra features in Adobe Creative Cloud Express, it has become a very close competitor of Canva.

Similarities between Adobe Express and Canva

The basic premise of both Adobe Express and Canva is the same:

Help people with limited design experience and budgets create beautiful and professional graphic designs for both their personal and professional needs.

Here are some of the features and principles they have in common:

  • Library: Both tools have an extensive library of templates, stock photos, videos, and graphics
  • Interface: Both tools have easy-to-use interfaces and lets you easily customize templates to create stunning designs
  • Platform: Both tools are available only online and work on any internet browser.
  • Apps: Both tools have a desktop and mobile app.
  • Sharing and collaboration: Both tools let you share designs with your teams and maintain brand controls
  • Pricing: Both tools have free versions. The premium versions are priced similarly, between $8-$10 per month, and offer many more features and stock content.
  • Free trial: Both tools offer 30-day free trials.

Whew! With so much in common, the biggest question is what are the differences, if any?

There are some minor differences, and I will also share my opinion and experience about each aspect. I will also share my recommendation of who should use which app.

Read on!

Adobe Express vs Canva – Feature Comparison

The features of Adobe Express and Canva are so similar, that it is difficult to identify a clear winner for most of the aspects. It is merely a difference of which tool suits your needs and skills better.

In the following detailed comparison, I will sometimes instead share my opinion, experience, and recommendation.

P.S. These comparisons cater to both Adobe Express Premium vs Canva Pro as well as the free versions of both tools. Read the details for specific information about each feature. 

Dashboard and interface

The dashboards of Canva and Adobe Express look very similar as well. In fact, if you have not used the tools before, you might get confused about which one is which.

Here are the common elements between the dashboards of the two tools (refer to the images below):

  1. CTA to create a new project
  2. Access your own projects
  3. Browse template
  4. Access your brand kit
  5. Schedule your content for social media
  6. Popular templates
  7. Search

Adobe Express vs Canva - Dashboards and interface

What I like about the Canva dashboard:

Search content: The Canva search feature lets you search for both templates and for your own designs within your projects.

Design Spotlight: A quick overview of the most popular templates and links to create the most popular types of designs.

Canva Design Spotlight

Business menu: Directly access multiple features used for businesses, templates for different industries and departments, as well as landing pages for efficient design creation.

Canva Business Menu

What I like about the Adobe Express dashboard:

Quick functions: You can access some key functions directly from the homepage by the type of design (image, video, QR code, and PDF).

Adobe Express Dashboard Quick Actions

Both the dashboards are user and beginner-friendly, so I would recommend them both even if you are using a graphic design tool for the first time.

Adobe Express vs Canva for dashboard and interface: Canva

Both tools have excellent interfaces with minor differences in how the features and links are presented. It is really a question of personal preference, which interface you prefer.

From experience, I have seen that Canva’s quick access to a business menu and the option to search within my own designs are more beneficial than the quick access to key functions provided by Adobe Express.

So for me, it’s Canva, but I would totally get it if you said you prefer Adobe.

Design interface

Like the dashboard interface, the design interface of Canva and Adobe Express are also very similar.

However, there are a few key differences.

Menus

When you are creating or editing a design, you have a very similar menu on the left for both design tools that include:

  • Templates (called Design in Canva)
  • Text
  • Photos
  • Background
  • Logos
  • Uploads (Library in Adobe Express)

Besides these basic options, there are different items in the Canva and the Adobe menu and the design interface

The Canva design menu is limited to only the left side of the screen. Besides the common elements in the menu, as I described above, it has some additional items.

Canva Design Interface - Menu

Elements

In Canva, the elements option in the menu includes all the design elements you can use on Canva, including photos, shapes, graphics, audio, etc.

I really like this organization of the menu because it becomes very easy to search the Canva library for all the design elements I may need within a certain design.

Canva Graphic Elements

Projects: You can access all your designs from this menu, and even add folders and organize your designs.

So if you need to copy an element from a recently used design, you can quickly access it here instead of going back to your homepage.

Starred: You can access any designs you have starred to have quick access.

Apps: You can access any of the apps Canva integrates with to find an element to add to your design.

For example, you may want to access some images from your colleagues through Slack or from other business software like Hubspot. You can do that from here instead of opening the apps separately.

The Adobe Express design menu is on both sides of the screen.

The left menu has fewer items than Canva, and a big difference is that in terms of design elements, you have shapes and design assets separately. This makes it a bit difficult to search for the perfect graphics.

You also have an extra menu on the right where you can change the color palette, animation, layout, and design of the whole project, not just an element.

You don’t have this option in Canva.

Adobe Express Design Interface - Menus

Design features

When you click on an element within the design on Canva, you see editing options at the top of the screen. For example, for a text, you can change the font, size, color, and sentence case.

Canva Design Interface and editing

You can also add effects and animation, change the position and transparency, add a link, or even lock the element.

Besides the element editing options, you also have the top menu where you can change the file name, share the design, resize, or undo/ redo an action.

In Adobe Express, when you select a specific element within the design, you also see an editing menu, but instead of the top, it is on the right.

For example, when you select a text, you can also change the font, size, alignment, etc.

Adobe Express Design Interface and Editing

What I like here are the extras compared to Canva.

For example, you can add a shadow, an outline, or a shape for text. You also get interesting font recommendations to try out different styles of text.

The menu will change depending on what kind of item you are editing, like text or background, or image.

Layer editing

A very helpful feature in Adobe Express is the possibility to select every element easily through the layers at the bottom of the screen.

On Canva, if you have many elements in your design, sometimes it can be tricky to select each element separately and easily.

Adobe makes it very easy, though you may take some time to get the hang of it.

These design options in Adobe Express are simplified versions of the ones you find in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Adobe Express Layer Editing

Adobe Express vs Canva for design interface: Canva for beginners and Adobe Express if you need advanced design options.

Canva and Adobe Express both have very intuitive and detailed design interfaces.

The clean and simple interface of Canva is very beginner-friendly. You can quickly create or edit a design without being overwhelmed by too many menus and options.

Being able to access all your other designs and apps from the left menu is also extremely convenient when you are creating designs very often and don’t want to move back and forth between designs.

On the other hand, Adobe Express offers some extra design features compared to Canva. These features are inspired by Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator which can help you take your design to the next level.

These design options are not particularly beginner-friendly, but if you are not completely new to design, you will appreciate these features without being overwhelmed.

Website builder

Both Canva and Adobe let you create simple and responsive one-page websites.

While these are not advanced branded websites with a proper website platform, if you want a simple website and only know how to use Canva or Express, you can get the job done quite decently.

The biggest difference between the web page design of the two tools is in hosting.

With the Canva website builder, you have the option to host the website with a custom domain, whereas with Express, you can only host it on the Adobe server (with an URL like https://express.adobe.com/page/s7mT8HKljy7r/), or embed the page on an existing site.

Adobe Express vs Canva for website builder: Canva as it lets you create a custom domain.

File export formats

Canva lets you export files into multiple formats:

  • JPG
  • PNG
  • PDF Standard
  • PDF Print
  • SVG
  • MP4 Video
  • GIF

On Adobe Express, you can export a file only into PNG, JPG, and PDF.

Adobe Express vs Canva - File export types

Adobe Express vs Canva for file export formats: Canva

The possibility to download files in multiple formats like MP4, SVG, and GIF, gives an extra edge to Canva.

Desktop and Mobile Apps

Adobe Express and Canva both offer a downloadable version of their tool on Windows and mobile (ioS, Android).

The Canva desktop app has a much higher rating (4.8) on the Microsoft Store than Adobe Express one (2.8).

Adobe Express vs Canva - Desktop apps in Microsoft Store

The biggest difference that I have noticed is the speed. The Canva app works just like your Canva account through the browser. But the Adobe app can be very slow.

The mobile apps for both Canva and Adobe are on par.

Adobe Express vs Canva for desktop and mobile apps: Canva (wins in desktop)

Integrations with other apps

Adobe Express lets you integrate with all other Adobe apps, including for 3D

Canva integrates with 117 apps, including many ‘business apps’ so to speak, like Hubspot, Powerpoint, Slack, Mailchimp, and lots more.

Canva divides its apps into four categories depending on how it connects to design creation/ editing/ publishing:

  • Import media
  • Discover content
  • Photo editing
  • Share and publish

Adobe Express vs Canva - Integration with other apps

Adobe Express vs Canva for integrations: Canva

I prefer Canva for the more diversified platforms it integrates with. If you just need apps for design then Adobe Express would work great for you.

But if you want to use your designs for business purposes then it’s really convenient to do that straight from Canva.

Storage

Canva and Adobe Express are both online tools that offer storage space in both their free and premium versions within the accounts, i.e., on the cloud.

The Adobe Express free version offers 2 GB of cloud storage whereas Canva offers 5 GB.

The premium version of Adobe Express, on the other hand, offers 100 GB storage, but Canva Pro offers a whopping 1 TB (1000 GB)!

Adobe Express vs Canva for storage: Canva

Canva provides 10x more storage than Adobe Express, and thus takes the cake for storage.

Folders and organization

Both in Canva and Adobe Express, you can manage and save your work in different folders within the cloud itself.

However, a big difference is that while Canva offers you unlimited folders and subfolders only in the Pro version, Adobe CCE offers you that in the free version as well.

Adobe Express vs Canva for folders: Adobe Express

Adobe Creative Cloud Express makes it easy for free users also to organize their work in multiple folders. It is a better tool in that aspect.

Collaboration

In both Canva and Adobe Express, you can invite others to access, view, and edit your design with a link.

However, when you want to collaborate on designs, Canva takes it to a completely new level.

The first thing you have to remember is that Canva lets you collaborate only with its Canva for Teams subscription.

Here are a few collaboration features that Canva offers but Adobe Express doesn’t.

  • Share folders with team members (on Adobe you can share only files)
  • Streamline design and approval workflows
  • Set different permission levels of design access for different team members (on Adobe Express everyone gets full access)
  • Manage and publish your designs with apps like Slack, Hubspot, Mailchimp, and more
  • Provide feedback and comments on designs
  • Track team progress with insights
  • Get 1 TB space for every team member
  • Brainstorm with your team members in real time with Canva Whiteboards
  • Collaborate with team members with streamlined workflows

Adobe Express vs Canva for collaboration: Canva

With Adobe Express you can only share files between team members. Canva’s collaboration features with Canva for Teams could almost make it a project management app.

Ease of use

Canva and Adobe Express are both very user-friendly tools.

However, with the extra templates, simple design interface, and intuitive collaboration options, Canva is much more beginner-friendly.

Adobe Express vs Canva for ease of use: Canva

Support

If you don’t have much design experience, you might be wondering how much help you can get if you are stuck when creating your designs.

A live chat with a human/ a tweet is the new phone call, and Adobe Express offers these along with traditional phone call support.

The support in Canva is a bit conservative and limited only to email.

Adobe Express vs Canva for ease of use: Adobe Express

Learning and tutorials

Both Adobe and Canva have an extensive set of resources on their websites and on Youtube to help you create and edit designs with relative ease.

In my experience, Canva has more video tutorials from users and affiliate marketers, which makes it extremely easy to design almost anything.

Besides, Canva has large online communities like on Facebook, where you can also learn more tips and tricks and ask for help with troubleshooting.

Adobe Express vs Canva for learning: Canva

Why Canva is a better design tool for small businesses

While we see that Adobe Express and Canva are very similar as design tools, Canva offers an extra set of features for small businesses to bring their brand identities and attributes to life.

Related:

Presentation templates

Canva offers thousands of presentation templates in 16:9 and 4:3, for mobile and desktop.

While Canva may not have advanced presentation features like Powerpoint, it still provides a huge library of multi-slide presentation templates with animations and other features.

Read my full comparison to decide which is a better presentation tool for you:  Is Canva better than Powerpoint?

Whiteboards

Canva Whiteboards was launched in 2022 and is an excellent feature for working in teams. It lets you brainstorm and collaborate with your team members in real time.

Charts and Graphs

Canva offers plenty of templates for charts and tables. And I am not talking about just graphics, but real charts with real data, that look fantastic.

Canva also has a pretty cool graph maker that helps you create beautiful data visualization graphics in a few simple steps, even if you have no design experience.

Canva Docs

Canva Docs, also launched in 2022, lets you create visual-based documents with videos images, graphs, and charts.

Smart Mockups

Canva’s Smartmockups is an integration of Canva and the SmartMockups app that lets you see how your designs will look in a specific context.

For example, you can use the feature to quickly create a mockup of your design on a book cover, a phone screen, a mug, or a greeting card.

Adobe Express has a mockup tool but it is not included in Adobe Express Creative Cloud.

Canva Print

Canva has a print feature that prints and delivers your designs to your doorstep.

It is a great feature, but it can be a bit expensive for regular business products like business cards compared to the prices of regular print houses.

If you need a few mugs or T-shirts, on the other hand, the prices can be quite competitive.

Canva for Teams

As I mentioned before, Canva has fantastic features for collaboration.

All of these features that are great for businesses are not available with Adobe Express. This makes Canva a much better design tool for small businesses and teams.

In fact, according to Canva, around 85% of Fortune 500 companies including L’Oreal and Salesforce also use Canva.

Adobe Express vs Canva – Pricing

Adobe Express and Canva are both freemium tools that have free and quite affordable paid versions.

Canva Pricing

Canva has three tiers of pricing.

  • Canva free: You can get Canva for free forever but it includes some limited features compared to the paid version.
  • Canva Pro: Canva Pro costs $12.99 per month and includes access to all of Canva’s premium content and features for one user.
  • Canva for Teams: Canva for Teams starts at $14.99 per month and includes access to all of Canva’s features for up to 5 users.

Updated Canva Pricing 2022

You can also get a 16% discount on Canva forever, every year, with the Canva Pro lifetime deal.

Adobe Express Pricing

Adobe Express has two levels of pricing.

  • Adobe Express Free: Limited access to Adobe Express features forever, at zero cost.
  • Adobe Express Premium: Complete access to all features of Adobe Express for one user and costs $9.99 per month. The Premium membership also includes access to Adobe Photoshop Express and Adobe Premiere Rush.

Adobe Express Pricing

You can also get a 16% discount on Adobe Express by signing up for an annual subscription.

If you want to create access to multiple users like your team members, for Adobe Express, you have to buy separate licenses.

Pro Tip:

An Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps license that includes access to sophisticated design tools like Photoshop. Illustrator, and Premiere, costs around $55 – $80 per month and also include access to Adobe Express.

In terms of pricing, Adobe Express is cheaper for a single user but Canva is much cheaper if you want access for multiple users.

Adobe Express vs Canva – Free trial

I hardly ever sign up for an online tool without a free trial or refund option.

So needless to say, a free trial is one of the first things I looked for in both Canva and Adobe Express.

The good news is, both tools offer a 30-day free trial.

You need to enter your credit card details to activate the free trial.

If you decide not to sign up, just remember to cancel your subscription before your trial period is over and you won’t be charged.

Should you use Adobe Express or Canva?

The graphic design tool you should use depends on a few key criteria:

  • Your design skills and experience
  • The extent of design options you want
  • Template library size
  • Control of collaborative designs
  • Integrations with other apps
  • Design objectives, for example, if it’s for a business

Who should choose Canva and why

Canva is a fantastic tool if:

  • You have never used any design tool
  • You are completely new to design
  • You are creating designs for a business
  • You want to customize brand controls with different team members

Canva makes designing any kind of graphic extremely simple and quick, and the designing options are just enough to help you, not overwhelm you.

Plus, its extensive library of templates provides easy starting points for all kinds of designs, and you barely ever have to create anything from scratch if you don’t want to.

Canva’s integration with other apps for business as well as its feature of charts, presentations, mockups, custom prints, and whiteboards, make it a better design tool choice for small businesses.

You can also set different controls for different team members on design edits, which ensures brand consistency.

Here are some reasons to choose Canva:

  • 3x more templates than Adobe Express
  • 10x more storage than Adobe
  • More brand controls and better collaboration
  • No limits on stock content and fonts, all are available for commercial use
  • More options in file export types
  • You can create designs for printing on Canva. Adobe Express only lets you create designs for online use
  • Available in more languages (100, compared to 15 in Adobe)
  • Cheaper than Adobe Express for up to 5 team members ($14.99 per month, compared to $50 per month on Adobe Express)

Who should choose Adobe Express and why

You should choose Adobe Express if:

  • You have ever used or still use an Adobe design tool like Photoshop or Illustrator
  • You have some design experience
  • You work with people or teams that design on Adobe and share designs with you
  • You want access to express versions of Photoshop and Premiere

If you have any design experience and you will welcome the extra design options of Adobe Express and not be overwhelmed by them.

You will also love that you can use Photoshop Express and Premiere Rush without having to pay the full price for Adobe Creative Cloud.

Besides, if you work with teams that upload their designs in the Creative Cloud and you need to access them and use them in your designs, you should also use Adobe Express as it integrates better with All Adobe apps and libraries.

It’s like if you use an iPad, it is better to have an iPhone so that they connect and sync more easily.

Here are some reasons why you should choose Adobe Express:

  • The Background Remover is available in the free version
  • Multiple folders and subfolders are available in the free version. Only 2 folders are available in Canva free.
  • Access to high-quality Adobe Stock photos
  • Immediate support with live chat, phone, or Twitter, whereas on Canva it is by email and can take some time
  • 6x more font options than Canva
  • PDFs can be exported in an unflattened version,
  • Access to Adobe Photoshop Express and Adobe Premiere Rush
  • Integrates well with the libraries in the Creative Cloud

Adobe Express vs Canva – Conclusion

There you go with the comparison of Canva vs Creative Cloud Express!

Here is a quick summary:

Prebuilt Templates

100,000

610,000+

Template Categories

20

60+

Stock content

175 million images

100 million including graphic elements and videos

Fonts

20,000

3,000

Upload your own font

Brand Kits

Unlimited

100 in Canva Pro and 300 in Canva for Teams

Content Planner

Design Editing

Slightly advanced

Slightly more beginner-friendly

Ease of use

Slightly more complex

Slightly more user-friendly

Integrations with apps

Mostly Adobe apps

Diverse apps, including many for business

Collaboration

Limited features and control

More features and control

Storage

100 GB

1 TB (1000 GB)

Unlimited folders & subfolders

Background removal

Desktop & Mobile app

Suitable for business needs

Price per month for annual subscriptions

$9.99

$12.99

Get a 30-day free trial

Canva is the more universal and more user-friendly tool that lets literally anyone create multiple types of designs quickly and easily. It is also a better design tool to use for businesses and for small teams who need to collaborate on designs.

Adobe Express gives you slightly more advanced design editing options and access to other Adobe design apps. It is a better tool for single users and for those with some design experience.

Which one is design tool you would choose? Have you used Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud Express before? What were your experiences? Would love to hear your comments!

FAQ: Adobe Express vs Canva

Canva is better than Adobe Express for beginners, teams, and small businesses who need to create regular visual projects and graphic designs for internal or external use.

The Adobe Express license is available for one user and for more team members you need to buy additional licenses, which makes it very expensive. Besides, it doesn’t have great features for collaboration, restrictive access, or teamwork like brainstorming. If you need an excellent, affordable design tool for business, you should use Canva for Teams.

Adobe Express is good for creating good-looking designs for social media, flyers, logos, ads, business cards, and more.

Adobe Spark has been rebranded as Adobe Creative Cloud Express. Canva is more beginner-friendly than Adobe Express as it has more templates, better graphics, and simple, easy-to-understand menus.

Adobe is an excellent design suite to create high-quality designs and is targeted mainly toward professional designers or those with design experience. Canva is a visual worksuite that includes user-friendly tools to create visual designs and documents and is targeted towards freelancers and small business teams to make designing for their everyday needs simple and quick.

Adobe and Canva are unique in their own ways and cannot replace each other.

Try out Try out Canva and Adobe Express for 30 days

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Ryan Biddulph
29 days ago

What a sensational breakdown. I am partial toward Canva because I gravitated to it a few years back but appreciate your Adobe Express review, too. Both rock because we live in a time where technology allows for us to create really, truly, eye-popping graphics. In the old days, you needed to hire someone to do this work in such detail because no such apps or tools existed for the general public. Keep up the great blogging work my friend.

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