Creative Cloud Impressions
I've always felt Adobe products were the cutting edge when it comes to graphic and web design and technologies; however, product pricing often kept me from upgrading or expanding my collection of applications. Spending thousands of dollars on a new piece of software is not an easy decision, especially when you can't be sure of a return on investment (ROI) with the new features that are being deployed. For instance, how do I gauge what my ROI is on the new smart blur feature in CS6? Put simply, I can't. It's nice to have new features; they make life easier, but it's hard to tell what kind of impact these upgrades have in the short run, especially for a small business.
In June of 2012, we decided to switch to Adobe Creative Cloud from a mixed handful of older versions of Adobe software. We opted for the month-to-month plan because, although being more expensive, it allowed us to cancel at any time if the service didn't meet up with our expectations. To cut briefly to the end of the story, we switched to the annual commitment.
I have to say that I'm thoroughly impressed with Adobe's Creative Cloud service. Sabrage has gone from using essentially just Photoshop and Illustrator to using almost every application in the Adobe Creative Sutie. This brings up a question I hear a lot of designers asking about Creative Cloud ... why would you want to upgrade to Creative Cloud if you only use one or two applications? The answer to that question is that if you take yourself seriously as a designer, you're always looking to expand your craft ... since design is where art meets business. The artist in you is always looking for new methods of expression, new techniques, and new inspiration. The businessman in you is always looking at the bottom line, being on the edge of your field, and pushing into new territories for future growth.
That's where Creative Cloud is a bit of a surprise. I didn't think I would use anything other than what I use every day ... namely Illustrator and Photoshop. But I did. I used SpeedGrade to develop color filters for Photoshop's Color Lookup smart filter. I used Audition to de-noise audio recordings of friends' performances. I used Premiere to create video presentations. I currently use Muse and Business Catalyst frequently to rapidly prototype and test client sites on the web. I've increasingly found myself using the new Edge tools and services, specifically I've switched from primarily using Hype to utilizing Edge Animate for HTML5/CSS3 animations. Additionally, the new training features are a godsend for someone looking to adapt to a constantly evolving toolset. And I'm excited about Adobe's future integration with Behance.
Most importantly, there's no question of my investment. At $29.99 a month, I know there's a return because my productivity level has gone up ... and that's worth a dollar a day. Even at the steeper $74.99 a month for a month-to-month subscription, the jump in productivity is worth $2.47 a day ... about the price of a large cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Moreover, I'm taking myself and my work more seriously because I always have the latest tools I need to approach almost any serious problem in graphic design.
So ... if you're a designer and you've got money for coffee every day, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you can get out of Adobe's new cloud service.