Adobe’s New Software Is for All the Non-Graphic Designers

Quick and dirty creations

Key Takeaways

  • Adobe goes after Canva with the new Creative Cloud Express. 
  • CCE comes as a web app and an iOS app. 
  • Photoshop is overkill if you only want to make a poster or invite.
Illustration of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Express on tablet and smartphone


Maybe you want to make a poster, party invite, or whatever, but you don't want to learn a complex app like Photoshop to do it. That's where Adobe's new Creative Cloud Express (CCE) app comes in. 

CCE is Adobe's answer to the burgeoning category of single-serve design apps. These cheap and often free apps make it easy to create party invites, flyers, posters, or any other visual materials. They give you templates, so you don't have to start with a blank canvas, and offer a stripped-down feature set so you can quickly achieve what you need to do. Creative Cloud Express is exactly that, only made by Adobe.

"Adobe is trying to appeal to those who create strictly from their cell phones with Creative Cloud Express. Those who are making videos that then edit quickly, all without leaving their phone's interface. Perfect for TikTok creators, it allows for quick editing and other tools while on the go," video producer Daniel Hess told Lifewire via email. 

Pro, but Easier

Because it comes from Adobe, CCE can tap into its huge design ecosystem. You can browse free Adobe stock images and fonts, for example, and you can use effects forged in the demanding fires of pro apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. You could even remove the background from a photo instantly, then lay its subject over the rest of your design.

CCE is an iOS app and a web app. The free version is more than enough to get you going, and if you already have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription of some kind, CCE is included. Otherwise, the pro version costs $9.99 per month, adds several extra tools, and more online storage space. 

Why Now?

Adobe is the top of the creative-tool heap, so why doesn't it just let you keep using Photoshop? It might just be down to the money. 

"Canva has just been recently valued at $40bn. This is the main reason why [Adobe is] bothering with these little apps. Most marketers (like me) don't have the design skills to use Photoshop, so they pay for easy-to-use design software like Canva," marketer Emily Anderson told Lifewire via email. 

And that's it. Canva came up more than once in my research for this article. Maybe you already use it. It's an app that does basically everything Adobe's new CCE does, and it even has a similar pricing model—it's free, with a $12.99 per month pro tier. 

The reason for Canva's popularity, though? It's easy.

"Today [there are] many design tools available that are easy to use, don't require any experience, and some of them are even free, which makes them Adobe's competitors," June Escalada, co-founder of PhotoshopBuzz, told Lifewire via email. 

Photoshop and Illustrator are way more powerful than these small, single-serve apps, but they require a significant investment in time and training to get even basic proficiency. That power is worth the effort for pros, but if all you want to do is make a flyer or a cool-looking poster, it's too much effort, even if you can get the basic versions for free. 

Adobe is trying to appeal to those who create strictly from their cell phones with Creative Cloud Express.

Adobe has competition at the high-end from apps like Pixelmator Pro and the Affinity suite, but up there, Adobe’s name counts for a lot. Down at the low end, Canva and similar one-shot apps are Adobe’s competition. It may not even be about snagging folks early, then getting them into the Adobe machine, so they graduate to Photoshop, although surely that’s part of the plan. No, it could just be about getting a cut of that sweet App Store subscription money. 

And if you’ve used any of Adobe’s apps before, or if you already have a subscription to the pro apps, then why even bother going anywhere else? Just stick with what you know—for free.

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