Security Bulletins Posted for Adobe Acrobat and Reader

Security Bulletins for Adobe Acrobat and Reader (APSB16-02) have been published. These updates address critical vulnerabilities, and Adobe recommends users update their product installations to the latest versions using the instructions referenced in the relevant security bulletin.
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties and confers no rights.

UX: Defending Your Ideas

As a UX designer, you need to present your ideas, a lot. Whether it’s your own team, your boss, or your client, sharing your work should demonstrate that you know your craft, that you’ve done your homework and that you’re a good listener. Building trust as often and as early as possible will make the rest of the project run much smoother and even help to mitigate the occasional irrational, flip-flopping, revision hungry, bad-idea-factory of a client.
TL;DR: In the end, clients are much more likely to agree with your conclusions if they trust you. As a UX designer you can build that trust quickly by properly framing up your presentations, backing up what you’re saying, and asking for specific feedback.
Framing the Question
When we say we’re presenting our ideas to clients, the unspoken part is that we’re trying to sell them. Clients have paid us for our ideas and our execution, so presentations where we show them what they’ve paid for are definitely part of the sales process. Charles Kettering is often attributed the saying “A problem well stated is a problem half-solved.” One of the most important parts of a presentation is making sure everyone understands what problem or goal you were aiming at.
Your questions should be concise, focused and demonstrate your understanding and expertise. Here are some examples of basic questions that could be answered in an opening:

What did the client ask for?
Who are we making this for?
Why do users want it?
How are users accomplishing this now?
What benefits will the business get by making/providing this?

This is your opportunity to show you understand your clients goals very clearly, and that’s a great foundation to build trust on.
I once worked with a CEO that said “Statistics are like torture. You just keep hitting them with it until they see it your way.” While he was probably right, research does play a critical part in our work.
Did you do a basic competitive analysis? Did you research some best practices? Conduct any labs, surveys or even just hallway usability? It’s great if you did, so make sure you communicate it. It’s hard to make the best “User Experience” without actually talking to some users, so make sure you share what informed your decisions.
Speaking of decisions, as a designer you had to make several to produce your work. As an expert, it can be easy to overlook the knowledge you have as obvious when it’s nothing but. Why’d you do it that way? Why is it that colour? How come the navigation is on the left instead of the right?
Rather than describing the UI they can already see, use the rationale as the basis for your walkthrough. “We know that search is the primary method for our users to engage with us so you can see how we’ve treated it,” rather than “We put the search bar at the top and in the middle so it’s prominent.”
Design at its core is intention. The more clients know why something was done, the more they can judge it beyond first impressions and personal opinions.
Wrapping it up
What you should never, ever, EVER ask is if they like it. If you catch yourself asking this question, politely excuse yourself for a moment, step out of the room, taser or waterboard yourself and then come back and start again. The problem with “Do you like it?” is that if they say “yes” then it seems like you got lucky and if they say “no” then you’re absolutely screwed. Why don’t they like it? Is it too blue? Well you’re probably not going to convince them that they like blue, so I guess it’s back to the drawing board.
Instead, as you finish up the presentation, bring it full circle and touch on the key points you mentioned when you defined the problem. These are the criteria that your work needs to be judged by. If we all agreed to the premise at the beginning, then the question should be “Do you agree that we’ve met the goals/solved the problems we set out with this work?” If they agree to that, then even if there are items they still don’t “like”, you’re on a much better footing to have the discussion.
Final Pro Tip
Since we’ve agreed that presentations are a form of sales, it’s also important to remember that your presentation should be interesting. What you don’t want is to knock out all but the most heavily caffeinated with KPIs, statistics and long drawn out explantations. This is your work and you should be proud of it. Share that pride. Get them excited. I know it can be tough and sometimes the subject matter is a bit dry, but you don’t have to make it worse by boring everyone. Keep it snappy. Throw in a joke if you’re funny. (Note: ask someone you aren’t related or married to if you are in fact funny before trying this.) When people are interested, when they feel confident that you know your craft and you know their challenges, your ideas will practically sell themselves.

Matching Image and Canvas Size in Photoshop

To make a document the same size as another open document, while in the Image Size and Canvas Size dialog boxes, select the other open document from the bottom of the Window menu and Photoshop will automatically fill in the values.

Onboarding and Designing Login/Registration Pages

Logging into websites is a commonplace daily activity. To help users, simplify form layouts and logins. You want users to sign up for your app or service, so remove any unnecessary friction points and potential onboarding roadblocks. Asking for a name and email or email and password are the simplest ways to start the onboarding process.
Once the user is onboarding, you can prompt the user to provide additional information as part of the customization process and create credentials like a password or email preferences. Use a confirmation email sparingly as many users will forget to acknowledge the confirmation request. Remind users on subsequent logins to add more information and/or confirm their email.
Login vs Registration
Clearly differentiate the login and registration screens. Even experienced users can confuse “sign up” and “sign in” buttons on the Evernote landing page. I know that I have found myself creating another account on occasion when I intended to login via the registration form. An unintended consequences of the ‘sign up/sign in‘ confusion was that I had created three different accounts with three different emails with three different passwords.

To prevent confusion and unwanted account creation, keep login and registration forms on separate pages. From a design perspective, the forms will look similar as login and registration screen have been simplified to email and password fields.
The combination of both forms on the axureShare page illustrates how simplification leads to duplicated layouts that have little visual differentiation, especially when the same form labels are used.
Email Address vs Username
One of the most unique pieces of information users that have is their email address. Don’t make users create unique usernames when registering for services or access. Generally, users have two email addresses – one for work and one for personal use. Once users have logged in, you can allow them to customize their profile and create a welcome message. Customization should allow users to change their email address or add a secondary email address to access their account.
Consider allowing users to login using their phone number for your site or app. Logging in with a unique (mobile) phone* number is quick and easy for user to remember and type in.  Stripe checkout integrates a phone number (and animation) to part of their “remember me” option.
*Phone login is different than the two-step verification used by many services which text a pin code to the user in order to complete a secure login.

Show Progress
A progress bar gives users a feedback loop that helps users accomplish set goals. Provide the user with context so the user can see how much needs to be done and has been done in a multi-step onboarding process. Be transparent in the number of steps the user needs to complete at the start of the progress and their progress through the onboarding. Progress bars are an essential part of progressive disclosure, breaking up the complex tasks of onboarding into smaller, simplified tasks and presentation.

Progress bars also provide users feedback and establish where they are in the onboarding information space.
LinkedIn’s profile strength meter is an example of a profile completion bar that motivates users to complete their profiles or provide additional information.

Use animation to communicate how to fill in the form correctly by highlighting form elements and directing users. Create a flow and engage users to the call to action through animation.
The owl points to each registration field and, on the login page, the owl covers its eyes as you type in your password. The animation adds an engaging twist to filling in a standard web form. Similarly, Shopify uses label animation to show to prompt the user to the next step in the form.

Third-Party Login
Not every user will opt to connect to your service with their Facebook, LinkedIn or social media credentials, but offering this option gives users a simple way to login and manage their login details. It is an option that allows users to onboard quickly and efficiently without having to remember an additional set of login information.

Show Passwords
Keeping the password field masked can create typing and input errors. Give users the option to see their password as they type.  This is especially important for mobile users as most typing today is done with the thumbs and having to wrestle with auto-correct on mobile devices makes typing and input more difficult.

Make creating a password a simple process. Remove double entry of emails and passwords.
"Your password must contain at least 8 letters, a capital, a plot, a protagonist with good character development, a twist & a happy ending."
— Nic van 't Schip (@NicvantSchip) October 13, 2014

Over 82% of people have forgotten a password used on a site. This stat will only increase as the number of websites, social media sites and apps that people use on a daily basis increases. Provide users with an easy method to retrieve their password and not have them answer a series of non-sequitur questions.
Warn If Caps Lock Is On
Before users start entering in passwords, warn them if the Caps Lock button is on. Providing a textual or visual warning will help avoid multiple input errors, user frustration and potential account lockouts.  Most browsers incorporate a cap locks warning. Make the Caps Lock warning message easy to see and read. Small text or icons may go unnoticed as users are focused on typing their passwords and they can develop “tunnel vision” while trying to complete the task.

Avoid Anti-Patterns
There are patterns and there are anti-patterns. Patterns guide users to beneficial success. Anti-patterns appear to guide or help users but lead to unwanted results or consequences, for example:

Removing inputs/information, especially passwords when submitting with errors.
Allowing for users to begin the registration onboarding even if they already have an account.
Having labels or visual (form) elements that are not clickable, but look clickable.
Limiting character inputs on form or text fields without warning the user or providing a character counter.

Remove CAPTCHA and improve conversion. CAPTCHA is a frustration-wrought barrier for users. On average, over 38% of users fail on the first attempt and 15% of registrations end in total failure where users simply give up after their fifth attempt.

REDDIT removed CAPTCHA from their registration page and saw an 8% increase in registrations. If CAPTCHA is necessary to minimize spam or for other security reasons, opt for reCaptcha, the “I am not a robot” version that asks users to identify a set of images.

Onboarding needs to be frictionless and simple to maximize conversions. Sign up forms should be designed for (mobile) devices first as users no longer sit in front of their desktops. To help users with difficult tasks and to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed, present information through progressive disclosure. Use animation to bring attention to important elements, information and calls to action. CAPTCHA and email verification are difficult to accomplish on devices and are barriers to conversion.

Watch: Jason Levine leads an Adobe Audition Masterclass

Happy new year!  It’s already well into 2016, and I’m halfway through my 5th David Bowie record of the mo(u)rning.  Only a dozen or so to go.  I know y’all could use some cheering up, so I’m really happy I get to share this video with you.  Almost a year ago, Jason Levine hosted several 90-minute classes on Audition for broadcasters at the BVE event in London, and with thanks to Matt Gyves, we were able to record one of those sessions.  I’ve finally gotten around to editing and posting the session on YouTube, so if you’re looking for a bit of training by one of the best in the business – and if you only know Jason as the extremely enthusiastic Adobe guy on stage, you’ll love this more subdued and embraceable Jason in educator mode – please set aside some time to learn and laugh as he covers everything from Premiere-Audition roundtrip, repairing distortion or “hot” recordings, mixing for surround, and more!
The whole enchilada can be viewed at

Some highlights:

Repairing distortion in dialog recordings
Sending a sequence from Premiere to Audition (Note: Shortly after this video was shot, we release Dynamic Link Video between Premiere and Audition, removing the need to render a reference video!)
Batch Volume Normalization (Note: “Match Volume” panel has been replaced with “Match Loudness” panel with additional Loudness formats and additional parameters)
Creating scripted Favorites
Remixing for surround
Remixing for surround using Frequency Band Splitter
Restoration in the Spectral Frequency editor

A Glimpse Beneath the Mask

Designers Paul Douard and Victor Vergana brought their distinct illustration styles together in a series inspired by voodoo and dark magic of the past. In Elemental Masks, they played with the disguising nature of masks to give earth’s primary forces a physical form. And the results were stunning.

It’s fun to visualize the celestial being behind the Arcanic Mask, glowing wisps trailing from a vaguely feminine face; or to picture what could have withstood the Metal Mask’s weight. Are wearing these faces a high privilege or a burden? Each mask is distinctly impressive, but the fan favorite may have been the time-weathered Vegetal Mask. We recently had a chance to chat with Paul about how he did it.
Can you tell us about your background as a designer?
I’ve been working as a product and graphic designer for a promotional product agency for three years, and I use Adobe Illustrator for product design and to create technical documents. Lately I’ve been trying out those very same tools and techniques for my freelance design. And now that’s what I really love doing.
What was the inspiration for this particular mask?
I wanted to create a piece that fell somewhere in between wood and vegetation, showing the strength of nature through the wood’s rough texture.

I looked at photos of wrinkled old men to help create realistic age indentations in the wood. I was also inspired by light, like the way rising sun falls on treetops in a forest. So I spent a ton of time on the glow that’s radiating from inside the wood. It symbolizes power and eternity.

Did you run into any challenges during your design process? How did you resolve them?
I started the Vegetal Mask after completing the Arcanic and Ice Masks, so I had picked up new methods while working on the first two. For example, when I first started working on the Vegetal Mask’s beard, I was tracing every shape with Illustrator’s Pen tool. Eventually I realized I could use the Brush tool and Eraser to work faster while producing this irregular and raw effect that I loved. By the end of the series, I had definitely learned to create light and shadow more efficiently.

How much time do you usually spend on a piece like this? What’s your favorite part of the process?
It depends on the project and the complexity of the illustration. But either way I’ll keep working until I am satisfied. I spent almost 100 hours on the vegetal mask alone from the first sketches in Adobe Photoshop to the full colorized illustration in Illustrator. I like spending time perfecting each detail in the drawing, but it won’t be final until I’ve traced it in vector.

My favorite part of the design process is colorization–especially the light. I think it’s the most important part. It’s the moment when the character takes life. When I give the illustration atmosphere. You can get a sense of that in my Behance tutorial before and after the glowing light has been added. I love the metamorphosis.

Any tips or tricks you can pass along?
 I don’t think I’m in a place to give tips because I’m a still a beginner, and I’ve been working in Illustrator for eight years. To get better, you’ve just got to be curious, patient, and experiment a ton within the app.  I also recommend using a “pen on screen” table. I use the Wacom Cintiq13HD daily.
Try new techniques, even when you think you’ve mastered a process. Behance is a good place to learn from the best creatives and get your daily dose of inspiration.

Drag and Drop to the Center of a Document in Photoshop

Holding the Shift key while dragging and dropping a layer(s) between two documents will place the “dropped” layer(s) into the center of the destination document.
If there is a selection in the destination document, holding the Shift key while dragging and dropping an image will drop it into the center of the selection.

Adobe Named a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs

For the second year, Adobe gets top marks for completeness of vision.
For the second time, Gartner positioned Adobe as a leader in its Digital Marketing Hubs Magic Quadrant. Adobe was positioned furthest in the leader quadrant for completeness of vision.
Leaders were assessed for their ability to embrace the integration of marketing tech, ad tech and analytics, and deploy a hub solution.
“When you read the report, Adobe demonstrates leadership across the board,” said Suresh Vittal, vice president, Strategy, Digital Marketing. “Adobe Marketing Cloud enables you to identify, understand, and engage your customers so you can deliver consistent, continuous experiences that matter. Personalized experiences so seamless and compelling, they feel natural and effortless.”
Read the full post on the Digital Marketing blog.
Read the press release.

#CreativeFriday – Levels in Curves (Photoshop CC)

Most image editors will work with Levels and Curves on an image to :-

Levels – Set the white and black point
Curves – Decrease the values of black and increase the value of white

Both of these in combination will help create contrast in the image, and ultimalty more interesting to look at.
These operations are typcially performed using an adjustment layer for Levels and independently a curves layer.
Actually Photoshop can perform both of these operations just on the curves adjustment.
Let’s take this image. It’s a bit flat, so by working on both Levels and Curves on a Curves layer, we can make it more interesting, just in a single step.
First thing is to create a new Curves layer, using the menu item, Layer, New Adjustment Layer and Curves.
When working with Levels, it’s beneficial to show the clipping points, this will make it really easy to see where the black / white points start to clip to black or white. The clipping indicators are available on the curves panel, by turning it on in the fly out menu. Once the curves dialog box is open, click on the fly out menu (marked in red), and select ‘Show Clipping for Black/White points’.
Now the clipping points have been turned on, when the left hand slider is moved towards the right (marked in red below), at some point the black points will show (as below) when they clip to pure black. The outcome of this, is that the details in the shadow will evetually be erroded away and detail will be lost (can be used creatively, but this type of precision will help control the black point).

The same can be applied to the highlights area, by moving the right slider to the left (be carefull with the white clipping point, as it will clip to white and can be offputting for the viewer when shown on a backlit screen).

Once the white and black points have been set, then the curve can be applied, in this case an ‘S’ curve.

That’s it. Photoshop levels and curves, just saved me an extra step. This can also help when used on a mask, or a clipping mask , as all operations are on a single layer, which in turn will make the document simpler with less layers to adjust and think about.


Updated Flash Player 20 available on Adobe Labs

Updated Flash Player 20 betas, code named Rankin, are now available on Adobe Labs. This beta release includes new features as well as enhancements and bug fixes related to security, stability, performance, and device compatibility for Flash Player 20.
Learn more about Flash Player 20
Download Flash Player 20 beta
As always, we appreciate all feedback. We encourage you to post in our beta forums or create bug reports or feature requests on our public bug database.
Flash Player Beta forum
Bug database