For the last few weeks we’ve been enjoying a free trial of Creative Suite 6, courtesy of the fine folk at Adobe. During this time we’ve realized that the benefits for design can be difficult to see right away, so we’ve produced this brief and informative guide on the key differences and come up with a verdict on the all-important question that everyone is asking: Is it worth upgrading to the new edition?

  1. Photoshop is Essentially the Best Option: If money is tight and you simply want to upgrade to an all-purpose, user-friendly program, we recommend that you go with Photoshop. It doesn’t come with a whirlwind of new features, but a series of small, user-friendly adaptations make design work much easier to manipulate. For instance, there’s better layer editing as far as effects go, as well as some pretty hefty shape manipulations that we’re quite the fan of. As we said, it’s not the most advanced program in the world, but it’s functional for most people’s needs. We also have a feeling that if we went back to using Creative Suite 5.5, you’d miss a lot of the small improvements that come with Creative Suite 6.
  2. Forget the Others: With a few exceptions—looking at you, Illustrator—most of the other programs within Creative Suite 6 seem to be about the same as their predecessors. We saw no real changes that make a difference within Dreamweaver, Fireworks, or After Effects. Some of the toolbars have been reworked, and everything might run a tad faster, but on the whole, you’re really not going to notice too much of a difference in these other programs.
  3. Should You Get It? On the whole, we think investing in a Creative Cloud account at $50 a month is a wise investment. It will keep you updated with what’s coming out, and you’ll not be using outdated design software. But as far as buying a license for the entire new Creative Suite 6, you’re likely just better off updating those apps that you cannot live without—For us this was InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. This saved us a lot of money, and we haven’t yet felt like we’re missing out.