Cutting the Mustard

Cutting the Mustard

April 19, 2022


My 96-year-old father has two vehicles in the garage: a beat-up Chevy pickup and a pristine Cadillac. The truck is a recent acquisition, traded for when he decided the red sportscar didn't cut the mustard. (Not familiar with that expression? Here's some help: "Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Bengals didn't cut the mustard in the Super Bowl.")

Daddy was driving until a few weeks ago when his health took a turn for the worse. Knowing him, he fully intends to resume driving, so my siblings and I are girding our loins for that conversation... but I digress. The Cadillac was fine for visits to the bank and insurance office, but for Daddy's endless list of chores and projects, only a pickup would do.

I get it. I'm pretty obsessive about having the right tool for the job. Need to hang a picture or ratchet something? I'm your gal. Similarly, I have strong opinions about the tools we use for work — and I take a lot of pride in keeping up with the latest apps and programs.

Last week, Jan and I had a spirited "debate" about the best design program to use for a client project. My first choice was Figma, for all kinds of excellent reasons — including the fact that I recently completed two comprehensive Figma design courses* and I'm convinced it's the BEST tool for just about any design job.

But sometimes, BEST isn't what's needed. Often, BETTER is fine. And sometimes GOOD is good enough. Daddy's Cadillac is the BEST car in the garage — but the truck is a BETTER option to haul manure.

So, who won the aforementioned design debate? Did Canva or Figma come out on top for the client project? I'll let Jan finish that story...

*Figma Courses: Figma UI UX Design Essentials; Complete Web Design: from Figma to Webflow to Freelancing


When I casually mentioned my plan to use Canva last week, I was caught off guard by Susan's passionate preference for Figma. (Maybe you've figured out that using "Susan" and "passionate" in the same sentence is redundant.) Figma is powerful, but in this case, I felt strongly that Canva was the right choice for the job. We went back and forth for quite a while:

  • Me: I don't need UI/UX design, I need an Instagram post.
  • Susan: Most Canva designs look crappy.
  • Me: That's not a Canva problem, it's a designer problem.
  • Susan: I don't care, I always want us to use the best.
  • Me: It will take me twice as long to create it in Canva.
  • Susan: It will look ten times better in Figma.
  • Me: I disagree. And I think Canva is the logical choice.
  • Susan: Only if "logical" means "second best".

You get the idea. We finally agreed to disagree, with the understanding that I would produce a satisfactory Canva version. That's exactly what I did. And to Susan's credit, she agreed that Canva did cut the mustard... this time.

If you're our neighbor, you probably overheard a thorough Canva/Figma last week. If not, here are a couple of good articles to read instead:

Canva vs. Figma: Which SaaS Platform is Better for Graphic Design?

4 Ways Figma Is Better Than Canva

And here's the point.

We utilize many applications in our day-to-day work, and each has its place. Deciding which is good/better/best is situational. What is best for one client might not be good enough for the next person.

Below we list the apps and programs that are usually the BEST solutions for us. Maybe these will cut the mustard for you, too.

These cut the mustard:

The Best Programs & Apps (for us)

  • Design: Webflow, Illustrator, Figma, Canva
  • Project management: Basecamp 3
  • Payroll: Gusto
  • Notes & organization: Notion
  • CRM: Airtable
  • Bookkeeping: Wave
  • PKM (Personal Knowledge Management): Obsidian
  • To Do: Things 3
  • Print Layout: Adobe InDesign, Pages
  • Social Media Scheduler: Buffer, Later, Planoly

Upward and onward! Hit reply and say hello — or click here and schedule a time to chat.

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