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HTML Templates or Code From Scratch?

When I've taking the time to look at the skills that contemporary designers are expected to have by various employers, what I've found is more than the kinds of visual design skills one might expect. A lot of companies hiring in-house design staff as well as design agencies require decidedly techie skills. It's become essential to be conversant and capable with HTML5, CSS3, XML, PHP, and the list gets longer by the day.

To nobody's surprise, the company that makes and sells most of the creative applications used frequently by designers is Adobe Systems. Installations of Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and InDesign are every bit as ubquitous as Macs in a designer's studio. Given the increasing amount of video work I do, I've come to add After Effects to that list of indespensible software I use. That starts to add up to a lot of very expensive software.

To nobody's surprise, the company that makes and sells most of the creative applications used frequently by designers is Adobe Systems.

Following examples of bundled software like Microsoft Office, Adobe assembled several flavors of software bundles to meet the needs of web designers, video producers, and designers in general. These bundles offered savings over licensing each of the applications individually. Even when buying a particular bundle of Adobe's Creative Suite that may have an app or two you think you'd never use, you still can save a chunk of change if you need two or three of the other apps in a bundle. And what I find is that an extraneous app today often turns into an opportunity to offer a broader range of creative services. Lately, I've been calling on Adobe Audition more often to do audio editing for video projects.

But even with the savings afforded by Adobe's bundles, these applications still take a big monetary bite. For individual creatives or small design studios, that lump sum expense can wind up being rather painful. Purchasing the current version of the Creative Suite 6.0 Master Collection, which contains nearly all of Adobe's flagship software for design, video, and web, will set you back about $2,500.00. And the upgrades to keep up with current versions then add several hundred dollars a release to your software budget.

Within the last year, starting with the release of Creative Suite 6.0, Adobe has offered a new option for licensing the software you need. This new option is called Adobe Creative Cloud. Instead of spending a large sum all at once to use Adobe's products, you can now pay to use the software via a monthly subscription fee. You get access to all the applications in the Master Collection as well as access to a number of cloud-based online services such as Adobe TypeKit that enable downloadable web fonts for your design projects.

While I'm often a bit skeptical about cloud-based services, what I liked about Creative Cloud is that, despite the name, the flagship apps are not web-based versions that require you to be online to use them. These are the same apps you'd install from a disc (assuming you still have a Mac with an optical drive). Once you sign up and pay for the first month's use, you log into the Creative Cloud web site and begin downloading and installing the software you need.

From what I've read online, some folks think the Creative Cloud pricing is too high. It doesn't seem that way to me, especially since I get access to all software updates for about $50 a month rather than shelling out over two grand all at once. It seems like a much more manageable way to budget for software. To get the $50 a month subscription, you have to commit to paying those monthly fees for a year. You can sign up for shorter sprints than that as needed at a higher price point of about $75 a month. That may be a bit steep but can be a great way to provide legal software to extra pairs of hands you might need to get a big project done on schedule.

Check out Adobe's Creative Cloud online at http://creative.adobe.com

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