SPEAK VISUALLY Receive practical tips on how to
communicate visually, right in your inbox.
In this comparison guide, you'll learn which design tool might be best for non-designers in 2021.
Choose the element you’re interested in from the navigation below and find out which option is most suitable for your graphic design needs.
Let’s get into it.
Canva is an online design tool where non-designers can create all sorts of visual graphics with a drag-and-drop interface.
Canva is considered one of the most accessible tools for creating visual graphics, and it's available to use on computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Adobe Photoshop is the first-ever software of all Adobe products. This tool has long been the industry standard for photo manipulation and graphic design with raster graphics.
Adobe Photoshop was the first digital design solution for graphic designers. It’s part of the Adobe Creative Cloud that includes Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro and Lightroom.
Every design tool has its pros and cons when it comes to content creation.
When choosing the best tool for non-designers, it’s a good idea to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each tool. This simple exercise helps make an educated decision.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Canva.
Canva is an online tool, which makes it relatively fast and won’t make your computer slow if there’s too much going on. Of course, you always have to be online to be able to use it.
This advantage could also be considered a disadvantage in specific situations.
Canva has a very short learning curve. It’s a tool directed mainly at non-designers, so it’s easy for pretty much everyone. For people with minimal design skills, it’s intuitive and flows well. Once you know where all the settings and controls are, creating content is easy.
Canva templates are easy to customize, and can be easily branded with a Brand Kit and a Pro account.
The number of available templates is vast and varied. Pro and Enterprise plans have the most variety, and there are always new templates added to the system. Plus, with all the templates you can find on third-party sites to buy, the options are endless.
Templates range from social media graphics, infographics and blog graphics to letterheads, business cards, multi-page presentations and documents. An added advantage to the Canva templates is the Magic Resize option which lets you change the design dimensions in one click.
Sign up. It's free.
Create any type of social media graphic with Visme!
Sign up. It's free.
One of the things that Canva is missing that keeps taking people back to Photoshop is the pen tool. There’s no way of drawing a custom shape on Canva; you have to use the elements on offer. Sure, there are lots of options, but it’s not the same as freehand.
Another disadvantage to Canva is that there's limited editing for elements, shapes and images. There's no transform tool to change the overall shape of something, and you can’t manipulate elements on a granular level. In many cases, you can’t change the color of a design asset.
With billions of people using Canva every day, some templates get used a lot. In the majority of cases, the design isn’t changed too much or hardly at all.
If you spend a lot of time on social media, you start to notice the same templates being used repeatedly. This limits the ability to have a unique visual brand identity. You’ll have to customize the templates to the point that they aren’t instantly recognizable anymore.
Now, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of what Photoshop can do.
Every project on Photoshop has layering capabilities for both organization and masking effects. Layers in Photoshop can be grouped or set up with sublayers or grouped with related layers.
Having the layers at easy access makes it simple to find small design elements in the canvas below other larger ones. The trick is to name the layers, so they’re easy to find and move around.
Every software from the Adobe Creative Cloud can communicate with another. Some connections are more obvious than others, like from Photoshop to Illustrator or Lightroom to Photoshop.
This connectivity is a great advantage if you’re using different apps for different things and need to send files from one to the other easily.
We think Photoshop is the better tool in this comparison when it comes to photo editing and retouching, however there are a number of Lightroom alternatives. The features in Photoshop are perfect for changing hair color, whitening teeth, erasing pimples, and removing undesirable lunch crumbs on a person’s face or clothing.
It’s also the tool of choice for photographers to fix other issues like color levels and exposure.
Photoshop is process-heavy graphic design software. You’ll need a computer that can handle it. Most newer computers and laptops have no problem running Photoshop, but older machines do suffer.
Having too many programs open while running can overheat your computer, and the fan will start no matter what.
Photoshop is okay for non-designers that love a challenge. But it’s not the type of software you open and figure out how it works in less than 20 minutes.
You might need hours or days to learn how to use it properly. If you're interested, we suggest you take some type of overview course to get the hang of the software.
Even though Creative Cloud recently added a collaboration feature to Photoshop and Illustrator, it’s still asynchronous. Team members can’t create inside the same project at the same time.
In this next section, we’ll take a look at notable features within each tool. These things make each software stand out from one another and the rest of the competition.
First up is Canva.
The most impressive feature in Canva is their Canva Print offer. You can design something in the editor and then send it off to a printer.
The options include mugs, cards, brochures, stickers and more. Once the assets are published, they are sent to your address. However, locations for Canva Print are still limited.
Inside the Canva editor, you can find millions of design elements in a wide variety. From shapes, lines and decorative graphics to icons, illustrations and animated stickers.
There is so much that some bloggers publish index guides on how to search through this library.
Sign up. It's free.
Create engaging animated content with Visme.
Sign up. It's free.
The third Canva feature is a simple social media scheduling tool available right inside the editor. Once a design is finished, you can share it directly to social media apart from downloading it.
You can also use the native scheduler to post at a different time. Options include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr.
The first feature about Photoshop that we’ll talk about is one that significantly differentiates it from Canva.
With Photoshop, you have complete control over the customization of elements on the canvas. Freeform and skewing options help you personalize details any way you want.
You can create your own shapes and lines with the Pen tool, which includes 5 different creative options for drawing lines and shapes. For example, the Curvature Pen and Freeform Pen tools are extremely practical. This level of personalization isn’t available in Canva.
Here’s a video from Adobe with more detailed information about the Pen tool, one of the most loved features in Photoshop.
Photoshop projects are organized into layers. These layers help keep elements organized. They also offer design features like masking for color enhancement touch-ups visual effects.
When a layer is turned into a mask, the image underneath can be customized without losing the original features. So if you don’t want to use the mask you created, just turn it off, and the image below will come back unchanged.
Layers in Photoshop can be grouped or set up with sublayers to keep things in order. Having the layers at easy access makes it easy to find small design elements in the canvas below other larger ones. The trick is to name the layers, so they’re easy to find and move around.
The third feature on our list is the wide selection of brushes. Using either the mouse or a drawing tablet, you can draw freehand onto your Photoshop canvas.
The brush tool is also used for masking effects and other creative features. The brushes are so versatile that creative users can easily blur the line between art and design.
Creating content with templates is a practical resource for non-designers. But it shouldn’t surprise you that even seasoned graphic designers use templates. Why? Because it saves time!
Let’s take a look at the available templates for Canva and Adobe Photoshop.
The templates available in Canva range from simple social media graphics to multi-page presentations and documents. Templates are what make up the bulk of creation in Canva.
Users are encouraged to search for a template related to their topic and intended output — for example, Instagram posts for bloggers or presentations for school projects.
Canva templates are easy to customize by moving elements around, resizing them or changing their color. You can’t manipulate them with a freeform tool like in Photoshop.
The majority of templates in Canva have a fresh and modern look to them. There aren’t many corporate business styles to choose from. The majority of the designs are perfect for bloggers blogging about pretty much any topic.
It’s important to note that apart from the templates inside Canva, thousands of templates are available online on third-party sites like Creative Market and DesignBundles.
Templates in Photoshop aren’t front and center like they are in Canva. To find a Photoshop template, you have to enter the ‘document presets’ library. In there, you’ll find a collection of templates organized by file type; photos, illustrations, print or web projects.
In the templates window, blank presets are the first choice since Photoshop is more about creating freely than following a template.
Although like I said, professional graphic designers often use templates to save time. If you’re a non-designer, we recommend using a template instead of starting from a blank preset.
Just like Canva, Photoshop templates are available online. You’ll find them in Creative Market and DesignBundles.net but also many other sites.
You can’t decide on the best design tool for non-designers without also looking at the cost. Let’s look at how Canva and Photoshop compare to each other in terms of free and paid plans.
The free version of Canva comes with lots of possibilities. Nevertheless, it still has some limitations regarding templates, design elements, storage, and branding features.
Photoshop has no free version. You can get Adobe Photoshop on its own, but it’s more cost-worthy when you get it as a suite from Adobe Creative Cloud.
The Photography Creative Cloud, for example, includes Photoshop and Lightroom. The full Creative Cloud comes with Illustrator, Premiere Pro, InDesign and Adobe XD among others.
Here is the pricing for Photoshop alone:
These are the prices for the Creative Cloud subscriptions:
Do you prefer to create visuals while connected to the internet or prefer working offline without distractions?
Cloud-based software doesn’t bloat your computer’s performance, but you’ll need a good internet connection. On the other hand, Photoshop does make your computer slow if it doesn’t have a high processing capacity.
Visme, for example, is an online cloud-based app. It works online in both the browser version and desktop app.
Let’s take a look at how Canva and Photoshop perform online and offline.
Canva offers desktop, tablet and smartphone apps, but all need an internet connection to work. There’s no way to use Canva while offline.
You can only use Canva while connected to the internet. If you lose connection while working on a graphic, there’s a chance that you’ll lose some of the progress.
Adobe Photoshop is natively a desktop app and doesn’t need the internet to work. It does require the internet to update the software and show you templates, though. Nevertheless, the Photoshop editor doesn’t need any internet connection at all.
For those that prefer to create simple graphics on a mobile app, Adobe offers an app called Photoshop Express. It’s a miniature version of Photoshop and is available only as an online app.
As mentioned above, if the computer where Photoshop is running doesn’t have a high processing power, the program starts to lag and could potentially crash. Photoshop works best with computers that can handle it.
Working on a project together as a team has never been easier. More and more productivity tools have collaboration features to help you work together. Now that many teams are remote, easy collaboration is more critical than ever.
Visme, for example, has plenty of collaboration features. From branding settings to asynchronous editing. Visme for Teams is an excellent option for non-designers working together.
Let’s see how Canva and Photoshop compare when it comes to teamwork and collaboration tools.
Anyone with a Canva account can add team members and collaborate in real-time to create a graphic together.
Pro and Enterprise plans have added teamwork features like brand kits, brand templates, and brand assets. Furthermore, the Enterprise plans have a unique workflow for approval of designs and team leaders have control over what team members can do.
Use the ‘Share’ button to share a design with team members. You can also copy a link to send via email or messenger. The Canva templates sold on Creative Market and other third-party platforms are distributed with these types of links.
Photoshop collaboration has never been easy unless you are on the same computer or can send a PSD file to another team member. The setback to that scenario is that you don’t work on the same exact project; the edits would end up being a copy of the original.
Earlier this year, Adobe Creative Cloud finally added a collaboration feature to Photoshop, Illustrator and Fresco. It’s an ‘Invite to Edit’ Button.
For this to work, you must save the document in the Creative Cloud first. Real-time collaboration is not possible as of yet; this is still an asynchronous feature.
Sign up. It's free.
Collaborate with your team on design projects in real-time!
Sign up. It's free.
Creating visual content involves sourcing assets to upload into the editor for easy use. When it comes to storage and backup, Canva and Photoshop are very different because one is a cloud-based tool while the other is desktop software.
Let’s take a look at how they compare.
Canva lets you create an unlimited amount of graphics. On top of that, you have different levels of cloud storage for uploaded assets. Free accounts have 5GB, Pro accounts have 100GB and Enterprise accounts are unlimited.
When it comes to backup, Canva has an autosave feature, so you don’t lose your work as you’re creating. It also has an undo option if you need to go back to previous versions.
Photoshop doesn’t store all your creations inside the software, but you can have easy access to the latest projects you’ve been working on when you log in.
You can store design assets on your computer or in the Creative Cloud. A regular Creative Cloud subscription gives you 100GB cloud storage, and Enterprise plans can have up to 1 or 2 TB.
No one tool can do absolutely everything you need. On any given day, you might use up to 10 means or more to get things done. That’s why many tools, like design tools for non-designers, have integrations to help you link apps together and get more things done.
Some integrations are creative, while others are more about productivity. Let’s see how each of these design tools compares.
Canva has many integrations for creative features plus others for productivity. In Canva, integrations are called Apps and are all available inside the editor. For example, to add effects to images, you have integrations with Duotone, Colormix, Glitch, and Smart Mockups.
You can use integrations with Slack, HubSpot, Mailchimp, Google Drive and many more for productivity. Some productivity integrations let you import files and documents and others also have an external connection to send finished graphics to them.
Photoshop is no stranger to productivity and design integrations. You can search for them according to the Adobe software you’re using. For example, many extensions work only for Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
In the Creative Cloud you can choose between Extensions and App Integrations. Extensions are add-ons or plugins that help with the design process. These include photography presets, typography libraries, retouching tools, brushes, productivity extensions and many more.
App Integrations aren’t as extensive as the extensions library. These include connections with Slack, Jira and Microsoft Teams.
Is Canva better than Photoshop? Well, that fully depends on your needs.
If you’re a non-designer and want to learn the skills to become a designer, you can start with Canva. Later, you can switch to Photoshop when you feel that your skills have improved. For Photoshop, you might need to take some courses or watch tutorials to really understand what the tool can do.
Both Canva and Photoshop are great, but we have another suggestion: Visme!
Visme is an online design workshop for non-designers. Plenty of professional designers prefer Visme over both these tools for ease of use and simplicity in user experience.
For example, Visme has advanced data visualization capabilities that simply aren’t possible with Canva or Photoshop.
Canva has some chart functions, but they're not completely customizable as they are in Visme. In Photoshop, you’ll need to create the chart somewhere else and import it into your project.
If you're still confused and are searching for a tool that combines Canva's ease of use with Photoshop's powerful features and editor, then you're looking for Visme.
In Visme, not only can you create all kinds of professional designs using a drag-and-drop editor, but you can also access tools like brand management, team collaboration and cloud storage.
Visme is an affordable and scalable alternative to older tools like Canva and Photoshop, and it's fit for both individuals and business teams. More features of Visme include:
The best part is that you can sign up for a free account and use it for as long as you like — no strings attached! Create your first design today and let us know what you think.
Disclaimer: Information is accurate as of May, 2021
Design visual brand experiences for your business whether you are a seasoned designer or a total novice.Try Visme for free