I like to evaluate new tools that enable content creators to optimize their workflow. I recently discovered Adobe Spark; it’s a set of tools that enables digital marketers to create web pages, videos, and images all in the browser without the need to install any app or plugin.
Over the last years, creating content for the web has become so much easier. I have written about several tools for content creators, like Sway, AESOP Story Engine, Pageflow, Mozilla PopCornmaker (posts are all in German; I may translate them at some point). Creating content with web apps is very common nowadays. Adobe Spark is a new service that digital marketers can evaluate for content creation.
I discovered Adobe Spark Tools via the great Digital Inspiration Blog. Adobe has not been on my radar, as I have not really used their software for creating content (until now) because I prefer to do as much work as possible directly in the browser instead of using a software that needs to be installed on my computer. Adobe launched the Spark platform this May. Features of it were already available as an iOS app before that, but since I am not using Apple products or iOS, I wasn’t able to test them.
With its availability as a web app, I became interested and played around with it. In this post, I provide a basic overview of the features of this service and my conclusion after using it for a few weeks.
Adobe Spark Overview
The tool allows you to create different content types.
- Post: Images for sharing on social media, blogs, banners, etc.
- Page: Content pages (articles and blogposts).
- Video: Create content along a timeline (audio, images, text).
Let’s take a look at the three tools.
Post: Create Images
Naming this component “Post” is a bit confusing, as one might think of a blog post, but it’s for creating images to share content on social media, blogs, websites, newsletters, or any other digital channels.
You can choose from predefined image sizes for all the major content platforms
or define your own custom size. It’s not possible to set custom image sizes for posts, you can upload your own images to use on one of the pre-defined formats (see comments).
There are lots of tools to help you to create images for sharing content on social media. I’ve used Pablo from Buffer and Pixlr from Autodesk in the past. The Post component from Adobe Spark is very similar to the tools mentioned but gives a few more options for quickly applying different styles.
- Enter a message to be displayed on the image.
- You can add multiple text areas.
- Choose a background graphic.
- Search Adobe Library, Dropbox, or Google Photos.
- Connect your Adobe Creative Cloud Account.
- Or upload your own.
- Choose the color palette/style that fits your brand.
- Resize the graphic to your needs.
- Publish or download the graphics.
Here is an image that I created for this post:
Speed of publishing is critical when working in social media, so knowing a tool that speeds up the process of creating good-looking graphics for sharing alongside your content is a must for content creators. Adobe Spark helps in both easily applying your brand’s CI and choosing the right size, depending on the platform on which you want to publish the image. Social media managers can save a lot of time by using it.
One downside of using the Post component is that you have to share the picture on social media before the hashtag #adobespark (added by default to the bottom right corner of every image) is removed from the graphic. However, as the corresponding notification says, Adobe provides the service for free, so you can pay with a tweet, and the promotional hashtag is removed.
Pages: Create a web site
The Pages component allows you to create web pages. You can create simple and elegant (if you like the style of blogs on medium.com) one-scroll pages. If you have created content on Medium or Sway in the past, you will be able to easily adapt to using Pages in Adobe Spark.
You can create pages by adding:
- A page header consisting of:
- A headline,
- A sub headline, or
- A cover picture (allowing you to set a focal point, if you want).
- Gallery components,
- Your own images or search Adobe Library,
- Search your Google Photos or Dropbox, or
- Connect and get images from your Adobe Creative Cloud account.
- Links, or
- Apply different themes.
- Host pages on a specific domain or embed pages,
- Download or export content,
- Enable comments on pages, or
- Get statistics on your pages.
So right now the Pages feature is more for personal use or hosting content that does not fit on your business website. The limitations listed above are very similar to those on Sway.
Creating a page is very easy. You start by adding a title and cover picture, and by pressing the + sign, you add content. The edit view is an exact representation of what the visitor of your page will see. There is a preview button to show the page without any editor controls.
Creating videos is one of the more complicated things to accomplish in a simple way (and in the browser). The Video component of Adobe Spark does a pretty good job at it. It’s very easy to add a few slides with text and pictures and to define how long a slide is shown. You can record audio right in your browser.
You can use the Video feature to:
- Choose from five different slide layouts.
- Create a video based on slide content.
- Choose music to go along with the video.
- This is especially handy, as choosing the right sound for a video is often a process that takes too much time.
- Define how long each slide is shown.
- Choose from different themes.
- Save an mp4 version of the video created to upload anywhere else.
- Add images from the same sources as those used in pages or the Post component.
- Embed videos in your website.
Not supported: You can’t record video from your webcam.
If you can create a PowerPoint slide deck or have worked with Windows Movie Maker, you will be able to easily master Adobe Spark Video.
Here is a sample video created with Adobe Spark
The video component is especially useful for small businesses and startups when budgets are tight. Hiring a videographer or an agency, creating a storyline, etc., can all quickly get very complicated. Adobe Spark is making it really easy by guiding content creators through this process.
Publishing Your Work and Getting Inspired
Adobe is also trying to engage with the creative community. They want you to share the work created with Spark with other users. You can browse what others have created in the Inspiration Gallery, which is a great way to re-think your branding or messaging or just to see what others are able to accomplish with Adobe Spark. You can also explore the hashtag #sparkmade on Twitter to see what people have created.
You can keep the work you created hidden in your account. For each piece of content that you create, you have an option to share it with the Adobe Spark community or to keep the work to yourself. Setting a content item to hidden does not mean you can’t directly link to the item, which, of course, is very important.
Posts and videos can be downloaded. This is important to be able to embed the work created in Adobe Spark into your own content tools. So publishing a video and an image created in Spark on your channels with other tools is possible. The page component does not allow downloading or exporting content, but it would also not make much sense to provide a download or export function, as you would already have created the content on your own site if you wanted to market it differently.
The features Adobe Spark provides are nothing new, but instead of using three different tools to accomplish single tasks, Adobe Spark is a one-stop shop for creating images for social media, videos about your products or services, and simple, but beautifully designed pages in one web app. The video component is especially fun to use, and you should try it out if you use videos to present your content.
Content creation is becoming much easier not only for classic website content but also for images and videos. Knowing what these tools can do to ease your workflow for producing content is a must in today’s content marketing driven world. As a digital marketer, you should know when a quickly created image in a browser-based web app is enough to get the job done versus outsourcing to a professional designer working on pro tools like Adobe Photoshop.
Knowing the limitations and benefits of using such tools is a skill set every digital marketer should have. Adobe Spark provides an interesting set of tools, and I hope Adobe will further develop this service.