Which Product Do I Use to Create That?

We’ve created an easy reference for some of the most common design projects and the products you can use to create them.

by The Creative Cloud Team

POSTED ON 07-18-2017

When you’ve got a new project on your hands, one of the first questions you probably ask yourself is, “Which design product should I use to make this?” With so many different applications, how do you know if you are using the best application for what you’re trying to accomplish? What if you only have access to one product? Can you still complete your design?

To help you get started, we’ve created an easy reference for some of the most common design projects and the products you can use to create them. And check out our new tutorial here.

First thing’s first — use what you know.“The first thing to understand is that many of the Creative Cloud applications overlap some in their functionality,” Brian Barrus, president and creative director at Studio Element, says, “so a big part of which product you use comes down to personal preference and how familiar and comfortable you are with different apps.”

If you feel confident using one program but have never scratched the surface of another, have no fear. There’s a good chance you can use the program you already know to complete your project. And when you’re ready to broaden your horizons, the even better news is that most Adobe products share very similar design language in their interfaces. Tools tend to be found in roughly the same places from one app to the next.

That being said, there is a clear advantage to broadening your familiarity across the product set. Each app has its own strengths, and professional designers use each product accordingly — often using multiple applications on a single project. For simplicity’s sake, in this guide we’ll focus on the big three design products: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Harness each program’s strengths.To help you get a better feel for the general strengths of each app, let’s review them briefly.

Reference this guide.To close out this primer, let’s spend a moment running through some of the most common projects you’ll find (in alphabetical order, for easy reference) and our recommendations for which tools will work the best. Keep in mind that most of these projects will have multiple elements, and those elements will lend themselves to different tools.

Book Cover:

Illustrator is best for designing a book cover


InDesign is the strongest tool for designing brochures.


InDesign is great for image heavy projects


Illustrator’s advantage in scaling is minimized for icons because they are designed to stay small.


It has a powerful ability to blend visuals and text, meaning you can create charts and graphs while also being very expressive with type and composition.


Illustrator is the most straightforward in its ability to manipulate and get expressive with type and text.

Illustrator is best for logo design

Magazine Layout:

InDesign is the best tool for magazine layout

Photo Editing and Compositing:

Photoshop is the go-to product for any kind of photo editing


Illustrator is the winner here, making it easy to get very expressive with typography and images on any scale.

Social Media Graphics:

Photoshop allows users to manipulate raster-based or photographic imagery.


InDesign lends itself best to a resume


llustrator enables very creative designs

Website Framework or Template:

Illustrator is a great tool for designing the structure of a website.

Graphic Images, Headers, and Banners for Websites:

Photoshop is the tool of choice for creating images and art elements that go in a web layout.

Videos and Simple Animations:

More Helpful ToolsThe big three desktop applications merely scratch the surface of resources available to you. Services like CC Market are part of your paid membership and give you access to thousands of curated assets — for free. Use mobile apps like Adobe Capture CC to design and edit on the go. The possibilities are endless. All that’s left to do is be creative, and that’s up to you.

Ready to learn more about your favorite Adobe products? Visit the learning portal at learn.adobe.com for free tutorials, tips, and templates.

Topics: Creativity, Design, Insights

Products: Illustrator, Indesign, Photoshop