Is Canva a first growing alternative to Adobe InDesign?
The genesis of the Australian startup Canva began in 2007 with the development of software for creating yearbooks. Founder Melanie Perkins taught various graphics programs such as Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, yet she found that learning the application took quite a bit of time and practice.
Meanwhile, the Canva app's feature set rivals that of market leader Adobe. With Canva, communication media for print and for the web can be implemented easily and in a relatively short time. The output media can even be created by non-professionals who know little about design. Adobe's product range is much more complicated to implement.
Adobe programs are known for time-consuming tutorials. The market leader has an enormously large pool of experts who demonstrate sample applications on YouTube or on the Adobe channels. The applications are often very specialized, but the selection of tutorials is so diverse that examples can be found for almost any design need. As a designer, there is no getting around the use of Adobe programs, as they play a significant role in shaping the industry. Adobe Photoshop is used for image editing, Adobe InDesign is used for creating catalogs and magazines, and designers use the Adobe Illustrator drawing program for developing vector graphics. Newer programs that have been added to Adobe's product line are Adobe XD and Adobe Animate.
Feature set Adobe InDesign and Canva can be downloaded as an app on the desktop computer. Canva also works as a web app in the browser. Documents are stored in the cloud and up to 100 GB of data can be stored from the storage capacity. Media such as images, icons, and videos can be easily added to a library in Canva using drag and drop. However, there is no indication if files cause the documents to possibly become too large and this could have a negative impact on exporting or sending files. In Adobe InDesign, the designer can see which files are getting too large and could cause difficulties in viewing and sending data. Adobe InDesign allows the placement and optimization of image content in the layout, which can be exported along with any dependent formats such as the use of font families. The export function is similar to packaging. PDF export works similarly in both programs, whereas Adobe has even more compression options and subtleties to technical settings. Canva focuses on the most minimal requirements in file export.
Canva has the great advantage over InDesign that teammates can edit and comment directly on the products, documenting adjustments at the same time. In addition, Canva allows the integration of apps such as Typeform, Hubspot, Instagram or YouTube, which are relevant for planning and publishing communication materials. Canva's content planner is a special feature that allows teams to schedule content and publish it on specific dates.
Adobe InDesign focuses solely on creating layouts for print and web requirements. Control of spacing to the page margin and between elements can be done through various grid settings in InDesign. Various layout master types can likewise be developed, such as intro, index, overview, and outro. Canva is rather unsuitable for the development of design systems, because the handling of the layout is too free. It lacks master layers to define how elements can and should be arranged on pages to keep the design coherent and consistent. As a designer, you can maintain consistency with Canva via a few specific intermediate solutions, but the approach usually can't be passed on to a teammate without explanation. Proportions of image elements can also be created more cleanly in Adobe InDesign. In Canva, the sizes of images can be manipulated directly, but it is difficult to achieve even values in the specifications. The biggest difference between the two layout programs is that Adobe InDesign lets you define elements with paragraph and character formats, which is similar to CSS specifications for HTML elements. The formats can be adjusted once and this is then automatically applied to the entire document. In Canva, adjustments have to be made manually. This can result in multiple change loops depending on experience and visual eye, which can be detrimental to the publishing timeline. The quickest way for a designer to notice where something needs to be improved in the layout is to do it manually. A non-designer can quickly lose track of this and not find all the visual flaws such as deviating spacing or different font sizes with hard to read formats. Working with Canva needs to be practiced just like with Adobe InDesign. However, the learning curve is shorter with Canva due to the lack of complexity of the functions.
Costs Adobe is now available as a monthly or annual subscription and can be cancelled at any time. There are discounts for students and educational institutions, but Adobe programs are still rather expensive. As a designer, the cheapest way to go is to use several Adobe programs on a regular basis, in which case the monthly cost of 59 euros is worth it. Canva is free to use and there is the option for professional users to use the paid versions Pro and Enterprise, which have a greater range of functions and also include free stock materials. Price-wise, the monthly expenses for Canva range from 11 to 27 euros. Generally, you can use templates in Adobe programs and in Canva for free and paid. Both communities provide a very large selection with diverse requirements. Tutorials often also offer templates and content materials that can be freely edited. The advantage of both providers is that the subscriptions can be cancelled on a monthly basis and are therefore easier to plan financially.
Canva is definitely a serious graphic design program that is available on the market for free. Currently, it gives any user the possibility to create communication materials such as a flyer for printing or a digital presentation without any knowledge in graphic design. However, Canva does not yet offer the professional approach that a skilled graphic designer uses with programs like InDesign. As a graphic designer, you have to be satisfied with Canva with cutbacks in the design, mainly because you have less control over the individual elements such as images and text and can not directly optimize their properties in print or web, but must again resort to professional programs for this. Design systems are also more difficult to implement with Canva, which makes the designs look very repetitive over time. For quick and uncomplicated publications, especially in social channels, Canva, on the other hand, is easy to use and quite purposeful in the output of usable materials.