Adobe Spark A JUMP+ Review

Adobe, a company whose products are already widely-used at the professional level, has created a product that allows a consumer with virtually no experience to immediately begin creating attractive, clean, and dynamic looking projects. While Adobe has become synonymous with digital creativity, offering such popular products as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver, those products have a learning curve that can feel discouraging to those without some training in the realm of graphic design. Recognizing this hurdle, Adobe has produced a multi-faceted entry-level designer with Spark. Spark is a free program released in May 2016. Spark itself includes three applications: Spark Video, Spark Page, and Spark Post.

The creation process is incredibly simple and Spark guides new users through it step-by-step. First, users are prompted to select a type of project: Video, Page, or Post. Each of these selections then opens up a variety of appropriate templates, or the option to ‘Start from Scratch’. Another option: ‘What can I make with Spark?’ is also available, which showcases the wide-range of project possibilities, ranging from Facebook and Instagram posts, to more business-oriented projects like fliers, presentations, and custom infographics (below).

Adobe Spark frequently provides suggestions on possible templates for the various project types.

Every step of the way, Spark gives users simple-to-understand contextual pop-up menus that give suggestions on the next stage of your project. This is accomplished by simply clicking on the next ‘plus sign’ button. When creating a ‘Spark Post’, for instance, this pop-up menu (below) gives options that are familiar to anyone who has used a word processor before, but also enables the user to drop in other elements, such as videos or photo collages.

The pop-up toolbar in 'Spark Pages'.

Simplicity is the keyword to keep in mind with Spark. This summer I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with a local non-profit organization attempting to develop their social media presence. Spark has completely changed the way in which I am approaching that work, as it provides me the tools to not only create attractive copy for the client but is simple enough that I can easily pass those skills on to another employee to maintain a consistent level of quality.

Adobe Spark provides helpful tips for content creators on how to increase exposure.

Beyond the obvious applications that make Spark attractive to small business owners or non-profits looking to stand out with their copy, but the software’s incredibly simple-to-use nature also makes it perfect for students who are in the early stages of a career in fields like marketing or advertising.

Creating a simple title card in Adobe Spark takes only a minute.

The only noticeable fault of Spark is that there is no 'Undo' button, a feature that seems near ubiquitous in our modern technology-driven world, and the absence of it is felt. Users need to be confident in any and all changes they make to their project or be ready to put in the leg-work to recreate features that may be lost with one mis-click. While this is the only major fault I can give to Spark, it is a fairly sizable one, particularly for a product aimed at entry-level users. While some users may be turned off by the 'Spark' watermark that appears on all projects created with the free version of Spark, I would argue that this is the cost of using a relatively robust free product. There is a paid version of Adobe Spark available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud, or as a stand-alone product, where the watermark is able to be replaced by a custom logo. Adobe has also released an application for Spark on the iOS store, though I would like to see an Android version appear in the future.

Despite these faults, I would very highly recommend Spark to a few different audiences. Firstly, small business owners (or NPO managers) are almost certainly not going to find another product that manages to find the right blend of simplicity and aesthetic attractiveness for cheaper than free. Additionally, I would argue that this is a software that just about every freshman college student should be learning to use, regardless of major. While PowerPoint and Prezi are fine products for creating presentations, I believe that many students may find Spark to be more user-friendly; competition can only push those other brands to do better. If nothing else, it is another piece of software for a student to add to their résumé, which is always a good thing, especially with a piece of software as multi-faceted as Spark.

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