If you’ve ever wanted to get into designing but felt overwhelmed by professional tools, we recommend starting with online graphic design platforms. This article reviews Adobe Express, a great cloud-based design platform created by Adobe. It has several features that make it a worthwhile choice, such as Adobe Fonts and Adobe Stock integrations, a free scheduler, and a free plan (and a free trial of the premium plan). Despite its flaws, we recommend you try it out and form an opinion of your own—you can get started completely free. However, in its current state, Adobe Express performs slightly worse than our top pick among graphic design platforms, Canva.
Best cloud-based design platform
Adobe Express is a cloud-based design platform that enables users to create and share professional-quality designs. With Adobe Express, users can access a library of stock photos, illustrations, and fonts, as well as create their designs from scratch.Get Adobe Express Start Free
Thanks to decades of experience, Adobe has worked with creatives worldwide; they know precisely what a simplified graphic design tool should look like. So, it comes as no surprise that Adobe Express excels at what it does—bringing the intricate process of design closer to beginners or amateurs without sacrificing their creative potential.
Is it worth the investment? Quite possibly, especially if you’re already familiar with Adobe but now want something you can learn in an hour instead of years (we’re looking at you, Photoshop). We like the Adobe Express pricing options because you can get into it risk-free, starting with the Free plan, which is already very good. You can take it a step further with a 30-day free trial of a 9.99/month ($99.99/year) Premium plan.
What is Adobe Express?
Adobe Express (formerly Adobe Spark) is a cloud-based design platform that enables users to create and share professional-quality designs. It was released on December 13, 2021, as an update to Adobe Spark, which has never found a grand success. With Adobe Express, users can access a library of stock photos, illustrations, and fonts, as well as create their own designs from scratch. Watch the Adobe Express release video:
The main purpose of Adobe Express is to bring the intricacy of advanced tools like Photoshop and Illustrator closer to everyone with no learning curve. It’s ideal for sharing your design with clients, creating posts for social media, or flyers for your latest promotion. The best is that you don’t have to be an expert; thanks to the beautiful templates, everyone can start creating professional designs with just a few clicks.
Mastering Adobe Express is easy for everyone. Still, if you want to surpass the competition or take your designs a step further, you can watch helpful tutorials on the official Adobe Express YouTube channel.
Why you should trust us
Matic Broz, the author of this Adobe Express review, has a wealth of experience with graphic design tools, having used and extensively tested every major platform and software, including Canva, Adobe Express and Illustrator, Photoshop, Desygner, GIMP, Inkscape, and many others.
Our reviews, including the current ones, are proofread and fact-checked by other experts in the industry, as well as Adobe, who verify that all data is correct; however, the opinion and final verdict of the product remain our own. According to our editorial integrity, we do not allow monetary incentives or outside pressure to affect our unbiased reviews, which are the cornerstone of Photutorial.
How we picked and tested
In addition to having experience with Adobe Spark, the Adobe Express’ predecessor, we have been testing Adobe Express for weeks, allowing us to try all its features. In addition to creating designs, we used the scheduling tool and mobile app and created new brands.
Because we know that one opinion (our own) can’t resonate with every customer and user in the world, we have read over 300 (328 to be exact) customer reviews of Adobe Express on Trustradius and G2. This helped us better understand what other Adobe Express users, with all levels of experience, think about this platform and what problems they had.
What we like about Adobe Express
Adobe Fonts is an invaluable resource for every graphic designer that you can get with most Creative Cloud subscriptions. Since choosing the right font is crucial for the success of a design, having a seemingly infinite number of stylish fonts to choose from makes Adobe Fonts such a great feature.
When editing a text, you can choose from over 20,000 licensed fonts (serif, sans-serif, slab serif, script, mono, handwriting), including some of the most popular fonts among graphic designers, like Proxima Nova, Museo Sans, and Renata. And did we mention they are completely free? But mindlessly adding fonts to designs just because you can isn’t a good idea. As we know from minimalism, knowing how to pair fonts lies at the heart of graphic design.
On top of that, though not related to Adobe Express, you may use Adobe Fonts on your website and in your apps. But a downside is that you must always get them from Adobe’s server and must not serve them locally.
Adobe Stock assets
We have repeatedly emphasized how vital quality images are for excellent graphics. And this is why we ranked Adobe Stock first among the sources of images for graphic designers. (Note: For those unfamiliar with Adobe Stock, it’s Adobe’s stock content service for quality images, videos, music, etc.).
You can browse over 160 million royalty-free Adobe Stock photos from Adobe Express for free on the Premium plan and over 1 million images from the free collection on the Free plan. However, you cannot browse the premium images, which are generally much more expensive. To use them in Adobe Express, you must buy them on Adobe Stock and manually import them.
If you’ve never used cloud-based apps, you might undervalue how convenient they are and how much easier your life becomes when all your projects are saved in the cloud. When you work in Adobe Express, all your projects and changes are saved in real-time automatically (you don’t have to care about pressing the save button).
This is especially important when you use multiple devices to access Adobe Express or take full advantage of the web and mobile apps (more on those later). We tested how well the projects sync across devices in a simple test.
- The test: We created a new design, made a few changes, and immediately closed the browser to simulate a computer crash.
- The results: Upon opening Adobe Express on another device, we were relieved to discover that all our changes were saved.
We also found that simultaneously working on two devices doesn’t cause any issues. After working on one, we switched, leaving the first one open, and all we had to do was refresh the page to see all the new changes.
Templates are ideal for beginners and non-designers as they give them a good starting point without knowing anything about graphic design. But even pros benefit from them by getting ideas from other creatives or simply speeding up their work.
Based on the design layout you choose at the beginning, you can browse among Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and many other templates. To our surprise, there’s no dedicated section for Pinterest layout and templates, although you can find a few by typing “Pinterest” or “Pins” in the search box.
Scheduling apps have seen a giant leap in popularity over recent years, especially on visual content-driven platforms, such as Pinterest and Twitter. However, they are also prevalent on Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
Adobe Express’ Scheduler lets you connect your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, thus helping you schedule your posts. What we liked the most is that this feature comes for free with the Pro plan, whereas similar standalone schedulers usually cost $10 to $50 per month.
You can set the publish time, add captions, upload one or more visuals, and even add emojis. However, it lacks certain functionalities unique to each social media platform. For example, you cannot add location, tag people, and add collaborators, which we can find on Instagram. A workaround is to add those manually after the publishing; however, this kills the purpose of the scheduler.
Web and mobile apps
Accessing your graphic design tool on the go is one of the best ways to take advantage of your creative ideas when they pop. For example, we love sketching designs while on the bus or tweaking designs while in bed. And the Adobe Express app makes it possible.
The mobile app works very well and doesn’t require a powerful smartphone to work smoothly. In fact, it’s more pleasant to work with than the web app, which often lags.
Branding is how you make sure everyone immediately recognizes your trademark. It includes your logos and the consistent use of colors and fonts. And this is exactly what Adobe Express lets you do.
You can create multiple brands, which is helpful for designers working for multiple clients or on multiple projects. This means you can upload your logo and select your colors and fonts. Doing all this lets you quickly access your brand’s assets when creating a design without having to set them up every time.
Adobe is notorious for its lack of coupons but excels at free trials, and Adobe Express is no different. The Free plan lasts forever and gives you everything you need to create even advanced designs. You may keep using it permanently, as the free trial never expires. However, you won’t get certain features available with the Pro plan only (compare Free vs. Pro).
Flaws and potential dealbreakers
While Adobe Express is a pretty good cloud-based tool, we found several flaws that took away the crown of the best online design platform from it. If Adobe manages to fix these issues, Adobe Express could become the best at what it does.
No SVG support
One of our significant disappointments with Adobe Express was that it does not support the SVG format, nor for uploads or downloads. While most designers using it probably wouldn’t need the SVG format, it’s helpful when dealing with logos.
This lack of feature was all the more surprising to use since Adobe Express prides itself in also being a logo maker. But as we all know, most clients (or even if you’re making it for yourself) require SVG logos, which is a lossless format regardless of how much you resize it.
However, we found a workaround that enables you to export (sadly, importing is still not possible) an SVG. At export, you can convert to PNG, JPG, or PDF–pick the PDF option. Then, use an online PDF to SVG converter, like Convertio, to create an SVG file (the resulting file will contain lots of transformations, which you can convert to a path with Adobe Illustrator).
When working with graphics and details, feeling good is key. However, after 10 minutes of fiddling with Adobe Express, we needed a break from the screen. Whenever you move an element, the movement isn’t smooth but feels like watching a 10 FPS video.
SIDENOTE: We tested Adobe Express on a powerful and updated Windows 11 workstation with the most recent version of the Chrome browser with a broad bandwidth (1GB/1GB).
Since all other online platforms run smoothly for us, we’re confident that the problem wasn’t on our side.
Lacking snap-to edges
Like every other good design platform, Adobe Express uses the “snap-to” feature, which helps you align objects with the edges of the canvas or other options. This function works as intended when you move the element around the canvas (for our taste, it’s even too strong, snapping from far away); however, when you’re resizing an element, this function doesn’t work. This is especially infuriating when you want to stretch an element from one side to another.
For this experiment, we created a custom-sized graphic in the resolution of 1024×512 pixels for a featured image on Photutorial. After creating the empty canvas, we measured it with several tools, including ShareX and Adobe’s own Photoshop. Both showed that when scaled to 100% the canvas was in fact 1200 pixels wide and 600 pixels in height. This is a 14.66% increase in resolution for which we found no reasonable explanation.
We found a similar issue with Canva, which resized our 1024×512 canvas to 1280×640 px. We were able to repeat this issue across multiple devices. Luckily, this issue goes away on export, and your file will be properly sized.
Also related to the resolution issues is the import of images. Yet again, we tested with one of our 1024×512 featured images by importing it into a much larger design. Adobe Express resized the image to about 50% of its original resolution without giving us the chance to keep the original size. Naturally, we were able to enlarge it manually, but getting the exact 1024 pixels in width was an arduous task.
You might be wondering why this obsession with exact pixels? Since Adobe Express works only with raster images (JPG, PNG), maintaining resolution is vital for the quality of images because resizing them even for just 1 pixel significantly degrades their quality. You’re usually better off resizing to round percentages, such as 75% or 50%, instead of 97%.
Right mouse click does nothing
Not assigning functionality to the right mouse button is a wasted opportunity since most people are very well-accustomed to it. Instead, there are two sidebars, one on the left and one on the right, which can make the interface feel overwhelming. However, we speculate that the right mouse click was omitted because it doesn’t exist on macs (command + click), representing most of Adobe’s customers.
Adobe Express Free vs. Adobe Express Premium
Adobe Express is available with two plans: Free and Premium. The main difference between them is that the Free plan gives you only a fraction of the templates, Adobe Stock images, cloud storage, and editing tools that the Premium does.
The Free plan (not to be confused with the free trial!) gives you access to a limited version of Adobe Express, which is enough to create most graphics and to test the platform before deciding on the Premium plan thoroughly. But if you don’t need the Premium version, you may keep using the free version forever, no strings attached.
While the Free version is already very powerful, the Premium version is the way to go if you want advanced features. For $9.99/month (or $99.99/year, 20% cheaper), you can use the entire collection of 160 million Adobe Stock photos–for reference, subscribing for 10 downloads per month costs $29.99/month, but with Express, you’re getting all that for free. Don’t forget that you can also get a 30-day free trial of Adobe Express, during which you can access all features.
In addition, you may use all Adobe Fonts, premium templates, and design assets, set up branding, and convert files to PDFs. If you’re serious about designing your own social media posts, you will love the scheduling tools that lets you plan and publish posts months in advance. With only a few clicks, it can now be integrated with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Another huge difference between the Free and Premium plans is that the latter gives you 100GB of cloud storage, which is enough for thousands of designs. The Free plan isn’t stingy either with 2GB, which is plenty since you’re not paying anything.
Free vs. Premium: Overview
|Templates, design assets||Limited||✓|
|Adobe Stock assets||Limited||160+ million|
|Web and mobile||✓||✓|
|Editing & effects||Basic||Premium|
|Convert & export to PDF||✓|
|Create your templates||✓|
Who likes Adobe Express?
Adobe Express is particularly popular among beginner graphic designers and entrepreneurs who want to create their graphics without learning to use advanced tools like Adobe Illustrator.
According to the reviews we read and our experience, Adobe Express is particularly popular among solopreneurs, small businesses, and individuals working on personal projects. However, since the update from Spark to Express, it has attracted larger business, mostly because of branding and scheduling features, as well as very affordable stock photo assets.
As with any Creative Cloud app, Adobe Express is popular among students, teachers, and educational institutions, who receive additional discounts (or even free) and training tailored to their jobs.
Adobe Express alternatives we like
Canva is one of the best Adobe Express alternatives, serving a similar purpose but doing it better. It’s very easy to use with various graphic design tools that can be utilized with awesome templates.
The workflow in Canva is based around an easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor, which offers similar functions to Adobe Express, but is more pleasant to use. Its pricing is very similar to Express’, with free and premium plans ($9.95/month) and a 30-day free trial.
2. Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator serves a similar purpose to Adobe Express but is far more advanced, making it more challenging to use with a steep learning curve. But the complexity and the seemingly infinite number of tools make it more powerful and, therefore, more popular among professionals.
You can get it as a part of the Creative Cloud for $20.99/month and free for 7 days with the free trial. It’s also included in the Creative Cloud All Apps plan, costing $54.99/month.
Designs.ai is an AI-based (artificial intelligence) online design platform for logos, videos, designs, and speech making. Although the results are quite good, it’s quite slow because, after every after-action you make, the AI turns on and “crunches the numbers” for a few seconds. In addition, we didn’t see any benefit of AI other than speechmaking, which is distinguishable from the human voice.
For $29–$69 per month, you get all the tools and features, including the stock images from the 123RF library.
Desygner is a great platform for those who are looking for an easy-to-use, yet powerful design tool. It is very similar to Adobe Express in terms of functionality, but Desygner has integrated a part of Shutterstock’s image library instead of Adobe Stock.
In addition, it’s not as well executed overall as Adobe Express and makes advanced designs more difficult to create, nor does it support any other useful integration, like Adobe Fonts.
Frequently Asked Questions about Adobe Express
Is Adobe Express worth it?
Yes, Adobe Express is worth a try if you’re looking for a simple design tool that can create simple graphics and social media posts. The Free plan and the free trial are the best way to test it for yourself and decide based on your experience.
What is Adobe Express used for?
Adobe Express is used to create logos, flyers, social media posts, business cards, and any other graphic asset. You can also use it to convert files graphics to PDFs, schedule social media posts, and get Adobe Stock images for the lowest possible price.
- Adobe Express (homepage), Adobe, July 14, 2022.
- Adobe Creative Cloud Express, Wikipedia, July 9, 2022.
- Scott Belsky, Introducing Creative Cloud Express, a new suite of tools that helps anyone create, Adobe Blog, July 10, 2022.
- Adobe Express Blog, Adobe, July 13, 2022.
- Adobe Express Pricing, Adobe, July 14, 2022.
- Adobe, Adobe Express: Graphic Design app, Google Play, July 14, 2022.
- Allie Decker, The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2022, Hubspot, July 14, 2022.
- Teachers- all you need to know about Adobe Express for Education, HelpX Adobe, July 14, 2022.
- Adobe Express, 10 ways to pair fonts for maximum impact, Adobe Express Blog, July 14, 2022.