At the Reviewer’s Workshop, we had a chance to really discuss the new service with some of the people from Adobe. One of the biggest concerns voiced was that people like to own things. They don’t necessarily want to rent software, which is essentially what you’re doing with Creative Cloud. Honestly, it’s a valid concern.
But Adobe has done a lot to address the most common concerns you might have about Creative Cloud. They’re not just diving into a subscription service without thinking about what it will mean to their users (some of whom may have been using their products for decades). Let’s take a look at those:
What if I’m not online?
This is probably one of the most misunderstood things about Creative Cloud. People hear “cloud” and they instantly think of a product that lives online. But all of the CS6 products are still downloaded and locally hosted on your computer. You can access them whether you’re online or off.
The “cloud” portion of Creative Cloud comes in with other services, including 20GB of storage. This means you can store your files online and get access from anywhere. Other new Creative Cloud services include Business Catalyst hosting and Typekit web fonts.
I won’t actually own the software
This one is kind of true, but how many other software products do you use that work under a similar business model? As designers, we should be pretty comfortable with cloud-based and subscription-based apps at this point. We use things like Dropbox for sharing and storing files, online accounting apps for our bookkeeping and invoicing, and a lot more.
So why would we hesitate to use something like Creative Cloud when it’s so much more economical than purchasing the software outright? You still get to download the software, plus you get online storage, free web fonts, and tools for website management and hosting.
Sure, we’re used to purchasing Adobe products outright, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do things. It was just the only way at the time. Now there’s a different way. In my opinion, it’s a better way for a large majority of creatives.
An annual subscription still means I have to lay out hundreds of dollars at once
Here’s another inaccuracy related to Creative Cloud. When we think of annual subscription, we often assume that we have to pay for the full year up front. But with Creative Cloud, you still pay month to month, just with a year-long commitment.
And if you decide to cancel your subscription, you’ll only have to pay 25% of the remaining subscription cost, which still allows you some flexibility.
The best parts of Creative Cloud
There are quite a few benefits to Creative Cloud. And so far, there are few, if any, downsides to using it. Of course, as more users sign up and use the services, we may see issues with performance or other problems. But the good news is that Adobe is a large enough company with enough resources that any issues are likely to only be temporary.
The biggest thing Creative Cloud has going for it is the cost, which I already covered above. The great thing is that if you’re a small agency and you need to hire some temporary help, you can just subscribe for a month or two to give the employee the tools they need, without spending thousands of dollars on a license that barely gets used. Monthly subscriptions are a bit more expensive than annual ones ($74.99 per month rather than $49.99), but it’s still a lot better than shelling out hundreds.
You also get constant updates to the software, whenever it’s released. No more sudden upgrade costs, it’s all covered under the monthly charge. That’s a huge deal for a lot of creatives, who can be hard-hit by upgrade fees every eighteen months or so. Granted, anyone who’s been in the business long generally sets aside funds to cover these upgrades, but it’s still a big expense all at once. The monthly subscription gives you a constant cost, which makes bookkeeping and budgeting a lot easier.
The 20GB of online storage included in your subscription is a great added bonus, too. You can just drag and drop your files to upload them, organize them into folders, and share them with other creatives. Sure, services like Dropbox already exist, but having only one service to subscribe to is great.
You also get hosting for up to five sites through Business Catalyst included in your subscription (and you can always purchase hosting for more). You can view and manage these sites directly from Creative Cloud, and also publish directly from Dreamweaver or Muse, further centralizing your workflow.
Typekit fonts are also included in your Creative Cloud subscription, for an unlimited number of sites. Currently, the fonts included in this service are all open source and free, though licensing options for paid fonts will likely be added in the future.
So is Creative Cloud right for you?
With very few exceptions, I have to recommend Creative Cloud to just about every creative out there who’s looking to upgrade to CS6. It’s more economical and has added benefits that you don’t get with the outright purchase of CS6. Of course, every freelancer and agency out there needs to weigh the pros and cons for themselves, but it really is a huge improvement over previous models.
For those with misgivings about Creative Cloud, the good news is that you can still buy the regular versions of virtually all of the CS6 products without signing up. The other good news is that the team at Adobe is incredibly receptive to feedback about their products. They want their offerings to work for the design community, and are very interested in what that community has to say!
Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.
Have you signed up for Creative Cloud yet? Do you like the new subscription model?