The MAX Marketplace is Back


Creative Cloud

MAX 2016 Marketplace

 

Get up close and personal with MAX Marketplace artists and their work

One of our most popular attractions in the MAX Community Pavilion, the MAX Marketplace, is back for its second year and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Marketplace will be featuring some of your favorite artists’ pop-ups from last year plus a variety of new ones. This is the place to get your hands on awesome merchandise, direct from the artists themselves.

Marketplace is scheduled for 9:30am to 4:30pm on Friday, October 20th in the MAX Community Pavilion. Be sure to mark it down in your schedule, you’ll want to have plenty of time to peruse these unique and vibrant shops.

Speaker/Artists returning to The MAX Marketplace this year

While we’d like to take credit for the success of the Marketplace last year, we know that it’s the personalities and their art that drew crowds to this Community Pavilion showcase.  So we’re extra glad that some of your favorite popups are returning for year two:

Aaron Draplin holding up the Big Bolt Pencil designed by Abe Vizcarra of Talentshow.co. Both will be selling wares in the MAX Marketplace.

Speaker/Artists showcasing merchandise for the first time in The MAX Marketplace

This year we’ll be featuring a few new artists in the MAX Marketplace.  You may have heard them speak before and you should certainly try to catch their sessions at MAX.  But if you can’t, be sure to drop by these popup shops in the Marketplace.

  • Charles Spencer Anderson  Charles Anderson will be offering all 4 CSA Images books for the first time exclusively at Adobe Max. (!) These 4 original CSA Images books range from between 16 – 22 years old and were self published limited editions which make them rare and also historic / vintage- yet new and in mint condition.These vintage/mint books are not available anywhere else. Signed copies will also be available.
  • Adam J Kurtz: Adam’s book will be coming out just two weeks before MAX and he’ll be signing them in the booth.
  • Abe Vizcarra of Talentshow.co
  • Katie Johnson of The Monster Project
  • Dan Christofferson of http://store.beeteeth.com/

Charles Anderson will be offering all 4 CSA Images books for the first time exclusively at Adobe Max.

These vintage/mint books are not available anywhere else. Signed copies will also be available.

Many other artists selling their work in the Marketplace

Not all Marketplace artists are speaking at MAX. Some Marketplace vendors come to MAX just to pop up shop and offer their work to MAX attendees:

Unconscious Bias in The Workplace: IDEO’s Rafael Sergio Smith Talks Design Solutions to Promote Diversity


Creative Cloud

On August 25-26, 2017, the Design + Diversity Conference will take place in St. Louis, Missouri with the goal of making the design industry more diverse. Adobe is proud to be a sponsor, and we reached out to its keynote speaker, Rafael Sergio Smith, to tell us more about the state of diversity in technology and design companies in 2017.

Rafael is the design lead at IDEO.org, IDEO’s non-profit arm aiming at tackling challenges related to poverty around the world. He says workplace diversity, or the lack of it in many cases, is a big contributor to the wealth gap in the U.S. and other countries. He’s done a lot of research into what he calls widespread unconscious bias in hiring practices, and is a firm believer that technology and design is the answer.

What is unconscious bias and how is it affecting diversity in our workplaces?

We grew up in an imperfect world, and we are all conditioned to believe certain things about certain social groups. We all have a set of preconceived notions about the capabilities of men and women, of black folks and latinx folks, of people with disabilities, of the LGBTQ community. These notions influence our decision making and how we view the world. Even if we’re not aware of them, they’re baked into us.

Often times, when we see people, we don’t know their whole story. We just see them and their resume, for example, and we rely on the social group to which that person belongs and the characteristics it embodies to form our judgements about them. This often leads us to believe in people we shouldn’t and distrust people we should trust, and that affects who gets hired and who doesn’t.

Just look at the data regarding certain workplaces. Latinx workers in the tech industry make up about 5 percent. That is grossly under-indexed given the number of computer science graduates with those identities entering the workforce. I think there’s such an overwhelming amount of data showing that even the people we think are the most altruistic harbor unconscious bias.

How can companies deal with unconscious bias?

Blind hiring practices are key. One of the first case studies I found in my research was from around the mid-century. At that time in the U.S., the top five orchestras in the country were 5 percent women. In the early 1950s, the Boston Symphony Orchestra recognized this. They thought this likely had nothing to do with talent but rather was caused by some bias in the system.

They started experimenting with what we now call blind auditions, when you put a curtain between a performer and the judge. At first, it flopped because the judges could still tell the gender of the performer by the sound their shoes would make on the floor. So they started having people take off their shoes. Blind auditions increased the likelihood of a female performer advancing to final auditions by 50 percent. In the coming decades, the orchestras went to 25-30% women.

When I first saw this case study, I thought ‘wow, this was an intentional design solution that mitigated bias.’ The problem here is that there was a deep-seeded belief that male = virtuoso. That deep-seeded belief undermined these orchestras’ abilities to select top talent, and blind auditions mitigated that bias.

What role do designers play in countering unconscious bias?

I think there’s a big opportunity for technology to step up. The canon of design today is around empathy, and we have to empathize with our end user to create world-changing products. In our industry, we often mistake the word empathy for sympathy. If empathy is what it really takes to build amazing products, we have to stop pretending that one type of designer can truly have empathy for everyone else. We need to intentionally build diverse design teams.

By the year 2040, the majority of Americans will be visible minorities. If institutions do not adapt and find a broader range of people whose voices are being centered in how we go about understanding our end users, I think these companies are going to become obsolete.

What tools are available to help promote diverse workplaces?

Textio is a great example. It helps people write more more inclusive job postings. There was a study from Hewlett that found that men apply to jobs only if they meet 60 percent of the criteria, but women only apply if they meet 100 percent of the criteria. So, the words we choose in postings has a huge impact on who feels qualified enough to apply.

It’s basically spell check for gender bias, to help you attract more qualified and gender diverse candidates.

On average teams that get a high score on their job postings on Textio attract 23 percent more women. The words we use often show bias.

What is the advantage for companies in making diversity in the workplace a priority?

If a company is on the fence on whether or not this should be a priority, they should look at McKinsey’s Diversity Dividend. It explains the financial returns to diverse companies and the competitive advantage diversity gives, and found gender diverse companies had a 15 percent increased chance of outperforming companies that were comparatively not gender diverse.

For ethnic diversity, it’s a 35 percent increased chance very diverse companies will financially outperform the least diverse companies. Diversity is mission critical to financial performance today, and it’s mission critical in the coming years.

Why is countering unconscious bias and promoting diverse workplaces so important to you as a designer?

At the core, I think diversity is an economic issue. When I look at the wealth gap in the U.S. between racial identities. Black and Latinx households have an average 12-13 times less wealth than white households. When companies are not intentional about addressing unconscious bias and putting an emphasis on diversity, they’re intentionally or even unintentionally perpetuating the wealth gap in this country.

When I look at a lot of the challenges I see in my own family and in a number of communities I’ve been part of, a lot of core negative issues are rooted in a lack of options for economic empowerment.

As a designer, I’m optimistic about the world we can build, but I know for sure we cannot build the world we all want to live in with an incredibly homogenous workforce. I’ve seen the power of working with diverse teams. There’s such a richness in types of people, and experiences, and perspectives. The broadest sense of diversity, of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, we cannot build the world we want unless we have all those people at the table.

Learn more about the Design + Diversity Conference on its website, and click here to read why diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a top priority at Adobe.

Create Gradient-Filled Objects With the Blend Tool in Adobe Illustrator


Creative Cloud

Knowing how to manipulate gradients is an advantageous skill for any designer. With a few short steps, you can create a dazzling image that looks like it took hours to create.

Evgeniya Righini-Brand spent a month experimenting with gradients for her Skillshare class and vouches for the ease and effectiveness of the Blend tool. “As a graphic designer I always look for the most efficient ways of creating illustrations and love taking something very basic and making something unique,” she says. “That’s why I find the the Blend tool is so important. It allows you to create so many different things with just a few clicks.” Click here to download the source file.

The above image looks like something a digital effects expert would spend hours making, but with Evgeniya’s technique it only takes a few clicks.

To start, create at least two separate shapes, each with a color gradient fill. Two shapes are all that you need to create a linear figure, but once you’ve mastered the blend tool, you can experiment with a wide variety of shapes and structures.

Under the Objects menu, select Blend>Make.

The program will automatically fill the space between the original shapes either with a set of new objects, or with a smooth transition between them.

To create a single smooth transition from the first object to the last, select Option>Blend>Blend Options, which opens a new window.

The step number indicates how many different objects will appear between the two initial images. To create a seamless transition between gradient-filled objects, choose Specified Steps, and choose the maximum number, 1000 steps. You can use less steps if you are working on a shorter blend

You now have a gradient that flows from one end of the shape to the other, but the image lacks depth and complexity. To add movement to the image, create an open path separate from the image. The shape you make with the path will eventually be the shape of your gradient image, and it can be anything, from a wavy line to a spiral to monoline lettering.

Once you have the path drawn, select both the path and the gradient image, and click Object>Blend>Replace Spine.

The image contorts to fit the path.

Add shadows and additional details to create a unique object that appears to leap from the page.

The blend tool makes your images stand out, literally, and it only takes a few minutes to use. Your imagination is the only limit for what your finished object will be.

Designing for Generation Z: How to Engage Today’s Super-Savvy Kids and Teens


Creative Cloud

Gen Z, the Internet Generation, the Post-Millennials, the Plurals — they’re hard to define, but most experts agree that the 69 million young people born between 1995 and 2012 are the largest and most diverse cohort in U.S. history.

Their normal is the old unconventional. They arrived at nursery school knowing how to pinch and swipe — not at fellow toddlers, but on touch screens. Many were born after the launch of Facebook, so their whole childhoods were posted online. They owned their first smartphones before their 11th birthdays, and spend up to nine hours a day consuming media, including two to four hours watching YouTube videos. With a spending power of more than $44 billion, they’re also the richest, and arguably the most vocal and open-minded generation ever.

Designers have to dig deep and work insightfully in order to craft brand messages, designs, and online experiences that will engage these savvy kids and teens. Adobe Creative Cloud for teams gives your organization the tools it needs to develop an authentic concept and bring it to millions of screens, but how do you and your clients effectively design for and market to Gen Z?

Understand the psychology.

To design effectively for any audience, a designer must first understand what makes them tick. Bailey Hancox, a researcher and designer at Designworks, recently conducted an in depth study into the mind of Gen Z and what makes them unique from other generations.

“Gen Z is the first generation to be born into a world where technology is so profoundly ingrained within the functions of society,” Hancox says. “They simply don’t know life without computers, smartphones, and gaming devices. Unlike Millennials, who take their problems to the Genius Bar, members of Gen Z look for solutions on their own and are completely capable of achieving them independently.”

With this in mind, designers can alter the way they approach Gen Z-related projects. “Since Gen Z has such a level of self-direction and purpose, brands can present designs as a way to empower this generation to be the best versions of themselves,” Hancox says.

Messages should feel personal.

“Kids in Gen Z are changing so fast, you almost have to say something individualized to each of them,” Nick Iannitti, director of communications at Fuel Youth says. “There’s a real brand fickleness, so you’ve got to provide experiences that will stick.”

Since Gen Z operates in a world of constant communication with friends and family, your designs should feel like something that comes from a close friend, not a nameless company. Incorporate casual, everyday language, and even slang into your projects.

Embrace bright colors.

Gen Z lives for color. “Bright, colorful surprises can grab their attention early and keep it,” Iannitti says.

When designing for this age group, anything and everything goes. Embrace trends like neon gradients and mixed patterns. Be fearless as you experiment with new color combinations and unexpected partnerships in texture and hue. If it catches your eye and makes you look twice, it will do the same for Gen Z.

Make them part of the design process through co-creation and collaboration.

A surefire way to capture Gen Z’s attention is to make them feel like they are part of the design process. “Our research shows that Gen Z want brands to be a resource, not an endpoint,” Sam Crompton, director of insights and trends at Ziba Design says. “If you provide a modular toolkit, they will curate their own individual approach. What’s important is to immerse yourself in their world — listen to them, and include them in the design process as co-creators.”

Consider posting potential projects like logo designs or poster mock-ups on social media and allowing Gen Z to vote, or have them submit their own design ideas and build on their suggestions.

Don’t baby things down.

Because they are so tech savvy, Gen Z is way ahead of past generations in terms of exposure to visuals and advertisements. Today’s six-year-olds think and act in many ways like the 14-year-olds from two decades ago. “Don’t baby things down,” Iannitti says. Gen Z wants to be treated like adults, and feeling like a design is “for babies” will send them running in the opposite direction.

In most cases, avoid cartoonish figures and stereotypically young images like rainbows and suns with fluffy clouds. If you find yourself thinking, “I chose this element because young kids like this,” think twice.

Embrace fluidity and inclusivity.

Gen Z is all about breaking down barriers. “In previous generations, you might have joined specific groups and claimed a singular identity,” Crompton says. “Gen Zhas completely disrupted these social clusters of the past and are instead fluid in their identities. Ask a Gen Z ‘What are you known for?’, and they might say, ‘I’m a musician, a skateboarder, a photographer, a digital designer, an environmentalist and pre-med.’”

Keep this fluidity in mind as you design. Standard delineations — like blue for boys and pink for girls — no longer apply.

All content should be shareable, scalable, and snackable.

With 24/7 access to information, much of Gen Z’s identity is forged by content they create and share. “Their self-esteem rests largely on the number of followers they have and likes they receive,” Hancox says.

Embrace this proclivity for social media by designing content with shareability in mind. “In design, that means lots of quotes, short videos, and images with text overlays,” Hancox says.

Remember that Gen Z communicates much of the time via emojis, videos, and GIFs. Also, ensure content is scalable. Does it look and function as well on an Instagram feed as it does on a website banner or print ad?

Gen Z’s attention span is also shorter than previous generations. “We have about eight seconds to capture their attention, so content must be short, sweet, and snackable, that is, quickly understood by the viewer, who’s made hungry for more,” Hancox says.

Stepping into the Third Dimension


Creative Cloud

This month we’re thinking about artists who go that extra dimension. 3D is on our minds for two big reasons: new creative tools are opening up 3D technology to any designer who wants to give it a try, and more and more 2D designers and brands are embracing what 3D can do now and in the not-too-distant future.

Even if you didn’t know it when you saw it, chances are that you’ve come across plenty of 3D design already. Take car ads — the majority of them are now created with 3D tools that combine 3D models with 2D and 3D graphics for realistic-looking visuals of scenes that never existed in the real world. Ikea is another big early adopter. Most of of their catalog is now computer generated, and they say that the next step is to go completely virtual.According to Chantel Benson, Adobe product manager and 3D-industry veteran, using 3D has a lot of benefits. Beyond saving a car company from expensive, complicated on-location photo shoots, 3D opens up future possibilities. Take Ikea: “They’re jumping into this trend because working with 3D models gives them the ability to use content for more than just static marketing collateral like 2D websites — the same chair, cup, or window treatment can be used for immersive shopping experiences, too.”

Moving into 3D

So who else is making the jump into 3D design? Some of the earliest adopters include graphic designers working on branding, using 3D tools to visualize the look of a logo or package design on the actual bottle or box. Designers are also embracing the tools to develop infographics. And digital artists are exploring the creative side of 3D design.

Graphic designer Michael Dolan has experimented with 3D art for art’s sake as well as client work. “It’s always fun to step away from work and just create. I’ll see something inspiring and say, ‘I think I’ll create that, too,’” says Michael. “I also use 3D for commercial projects. It’s useful for phone and device mockups on tables. I’ll purchase images and pop in app UIs. You can snap a picture of a table and then throw a device down.”How hard is it to shift to 3D design if your background is 2D? We asked Chantel, who works with our Project Felix team on building tools for designers who aren’t 3D experts, but want to composite 2D and 3D assets to build photorealistic scenes, product shots, and abstract art. She told us that, while the transition might seem intimidating, designers’ 2D skills transfer well, and even give them a head start.

“I tell designers that they already think in 3D because they are so tuned into how images look — or how they’re supposed to look! They inherently know if the shadows or lighting don’t match correctly or if the color values are off,” says Chantel. “Designers are experts in sniffing out mistakes in 2D composites because they all face the same challenges when combining multiple flat images together. How do you fake this shadow? How do you find photos of the hero object in the exact right position? Working in an application like Felix frees up designers from those challenges and lets them iterate on positioning, placement, light, and shadow, instead of mastering tricks to make it look like something is set at just one angle.”Where will 3D go next?

Working with Felix gives Chantel the opportunity to track how people are using 3D tools, and she’s been amazed at how quickly the work is evolving. “It has been really gratifying to see the content folks are creating. Over the past year as the Felix feature set has expanded, the variety and depth of images created with the app has grown as well,” she says. You can take a peek yourself at the growing collections on Instagram and Behance.

Looking ahead, Chantel imagines big developments in 3D design, including more immersive experiences like Pokémon GO and Augment for Salesforce. “This is already starting now with augmented reality becoming part of how we navigate with our phones or interact with our favorite IP.”Stay with us on the blog this month as we talk to designers about what it’s like to start working in 3D, and get an insider’s view on the process behind developing models, materials, lights, and textures for 3D design. And don’t miss Adobe Stock’s marketplace of 3D assets, or this month’s dedicated gallery of 3D-inspired stock.

Tips for Communicating Effectively with Clients Who Don’t ‘Speak Design’ from Filament Creative’s Matt Hryhorsky


Creative Cloud

Dealing with clients can be difficult; understanding their initial needs, feedback, and communicating effectively with them can make the difference between a positive working relationship and a difficult one. So what’s the best way to communicate with clients who don’t have an understanding of design? Matt Hryhorsky, the Design Director at Filament Creative has some tips. Here’s his best advice for dealing with clients when it begins to feel like you’re speaking different languages.

What’s the biggest communication issue between designers and their non-design clients?

Clients are smart, hard-working people who are experts at what they do. So are designers, but there’s a big gap when it comes to the words we use when we talk about design, and in the case of a lot of clients, this may be the first time they’re actively involved in design conversations of any kind. In my experience, I’ve found that the biggest breakdowns happen when clients use language they think is crystal clear, like “I’d love this to be more corporate,” and designers rely on their interpretation of those words to move ahead without digging deeper into what those words actually mean to the people giving that feedback.

I’ll bet that if you threw out a few words people typically use to describe design, like clean, fun, quirky, slick, or minimal, the visuals we get in our heads are wildly different. Our frames of reference for design don’t typically come from a widely held standard of what ‘clean’ is, for example. More often, our understanding of ‘clean’ design is influenced by our exposure to the visuals we’ve encountered over time, and how we’ve subsequently filed those particular treatments in our minds.

So, when a client says they want something minimal, they may be drawing from experience with Scandinavian interiors, Japanese architecture, or even a basic interpretation that minimal means ‘less stuff.’ Designers also have visual frames of reference, and it’s crucial that you take the time to understand where those references crossover.

What’s the best strategy for solving these communication barriers early on?

All good designers know that asking the right questions is the best starting point.

As far as UX needs are concerned, clients will always have business metrics they’re trying to hit, but real UX comes from understanding customer needs. At Filament, we start there, and dive deep into what value existing customers or potential future customers are looking to get out of an interaction with that client’s brand. We spend time understanding where in a customer’s day they might need to use the product or service we’re building, and then remove the friction points that would stop them from accomplishing that goal.

It could be shopping for diapers, transferring funds to an investment account, or getting in a quick workout before heading to the office. In every case, it goes much deeper than just asking them what they like or don’t like.

What tools do you use to really make sure you’re delivering what the client wants?

  • The first tool for design critique is a detailed Design Discovery, where we encourage our client to bring pieces of inspiration to the table, and we do the same. It’s a fun exercise and, like I mentioned above, this helps us start to see what they consider to be quirky, minimal, sleek, or clean in order to build that common design language moving forward.
  • Our team uses that as a jumping off point to prepare The 20-Second Gut Test, which is a tool we use to further refine our understanding of a client’s likes and dislikes as it applies to the web or apps. In the test we show a client twenty pieces of work for twenty seconds each, and in each case we ask them to score the visuals based on a gut reaction where 5 is ‘give me more of that sweetness’ and 0 is ‘my eyes are burning.’ Once we finish, we tally up the scores and discuss. It’s that discussion afterwards where we get some real talk about what they loved or loathed, which arms us with even more insight about how design lands for our stakeholders.
  • Our final deliverable in the process is a Style Tile, a collection of elements designed with the context of the project in mind and informed by user research. At Filament, we define design as a combination of user research, content strategy, user experience design, style, and execution. Now that we have a solid idea of what users want, what our stakeholders want, and how to speak design with them, we have everything we need to determine a stylistic direction for the project. In all the years we’ve been using the above tools, we’ve yet to have a client completely reject the design direction. The bonus of doing it this way is that your client becomes a member of the design team really early on, which is a huge win for the rest of the process.

How do you make sure the feedback stage goes smoothly too?

In the absence of information, people make stuff up, so context is key. What’s feedback? Why do we do it? What are we as a design firm expecting of you, the client, at this stage? Setting your client up for success by clearly communicating your expectations at each phase goes a long way.

Knowing that you’ve done some excellent UX research, you have the ability to lean on your customers as a voice of truth. If client feedback seems like it’s leaning more towards personal preference rather than what’s best for the user, it’s really easy to lean on the insights and research to re-focus clients on what their users really want.

Finally, it’s been said a million times, but it’s worth repeating. We’re professionals, so act like one. Design feedback isn’t personal, and it’s your job to help the client understand the impact of their design feedback. If it serves the end customer, it serves the business.

What’s the biggest benefit of mastering client communication techniques as a designer?

Without being too dramatic here, literally everything. Being a great designer means being a great communicator, whether that’s when selling ideas to your team, or working out stylistic direction alongside your client.

Whether you believe it or not, everyone speaks design. We may not use the same words, or understand design in the same way, but everyone has the ability to evaluate whether a design works for them or not. Sometimes the language is ambiguous, and sometimes it’s based solely on subjective opinion, and that’s okay. It’s our job to deepen our client’s understanding of the role design plays, to broaden our own understanding of our client’s design language, and teach them how to deliver constructive feedback that’s focused on results, business strategy, and user goals.

Check out Matt Hryhorsky’s writings for more tips on mastering client design language.

Why Every Digital Designer Should Think Like an Experience Designer


Creative Cloud

If we look at it broadly, User Experience (UX) design can be broken down into three distinct components: the look, the feel, and the usability. For a product to win over users’ hearts and carve a place for itself in their lives, it has to deliver on all three counts.

And although every designer strives to innovate and add a personal touch, many have learned the hard way that the success of any design relies on its capacity to do something familiar in a new way. That’s because user experience trumps everything else.

The Development of Technology and Interaction

Architecting the experiences of tomorrow is as exciting as it is challenging. As a designer, you’re tasked with dreaming up futuristic products that look and function almost like the ones we are using today, while, at the same time, blowing our minds away with life-changing ideas. Technologies like VR, voice, and artificial intelligence are so out there that they put great focus on delivering an A-class user experience to instill the feeling of familiarity through exceptional UX design.

The technologies that have already made an impact on us are driven by and aspire to create a user-centered, intuitive experience that feels and works as expected. Take, for example, conversational bots. To imitate human behavior and make the user feel like they’re interacting with a real human being, bots use tricks like indicating that they’re “typing” or taking a moment before replying to make the response feel more natural. They also take advantage of emoji reactions and instant informal replies, like “OK, I’m on it,” and so on. Designed to make you feel as though you’re talking to a human, bots rely on excellent user experience and interaction.

It’s becoming apparent that the more revolutionary the technology becomes, the stronger the demand for easily accessible UI and UX design. However innovative the technology is, it is useless if people can’t figure it out.

The Importance of UX Design and Why Every Designer Should Learn It

The simple reality is that you can be the most creative designer with the most outlandish ideas, but if your designs are inaccessible, they won’t be a success. UI and UX are two sides of the same coin. There’s no way a designer can succeed in the current business climate, where customers have become users, without knowing how to meet and exceed their expectations. User experience has proved to be the secret sauce that turned successful startups into unicorns (think Uber) and great products into must-haves (think Apple).

There are a few prominent reasons why UX design skills and knowledge can not only help designers land and maintain better jobs, but also outperform their targets and create slicker designs.

You Must Design Human-First Products

The total user experience design draws on skills and perspectives in all business areas from product and packaging to marketing and customer services. When creating for humans, designers must factor in people’s behavior, preferences, context and the goals and aspirations they’re trying to achieve. This means the designer should involve real users in the design process from day one. With the abundance of interactive research tools like user testing via video or social media, designers have no excuse for ignoring the needs and expectations of potential customers. It’s also essential to remember that the experience using a product is just one part of the total sum; everything from branding and educational stage, to online or in-store shopping and setup need to be considered to create a smooth total user experience.

You Must See the Big Picture and Consider the Unlikely

Not seeing the big picture as you’re working through a to-do list of small things that end up taking all your time is a big problem in design. You might excel at choosing the right color scheme for your designs or pairing the fonts elegantly, but if users can’t find their way around and leave the site unable to accomplish their goals, you can hardly call it a success. To create an intuitive user experience, designers must understand the context in which the product is used and this can only be achieved by watching users work and use the product. Sometimes it’s necessary to step back from your work and take on a fresh perspective to discover your own lapses of thinking.

You Must Find a Path of Least Resistance

You’re right in thinking that getting a user from point A to point B doesn’t always have to be a straight line, but it most certainly has to follow the path of least resistance. The way a product’s content, features and functions are organized will have a huge impact on the user experience. To make sure the UI is spotless and meets user expectations, designers resort to carrying out exercises like card sorting, creating site architecture maps, drawing task flow diagrams, and wireframing. Long before you start thinking about visuals and graphics, you must ensure the proposed designs are easy to navigate and understand.

You Can Help People Transform Their Lives

People often think that design is only concerned with how things look; but it is so much more powerful than that. Those who master the skill and are able to build their work on the principles of consumer psychology, can and do change people’s lives for better. If you take a look at the new wave of products that are influencing people’s behavior and daily routines, it becomes clear that designers indeed have the power to form new or change existing habits. From encouraging people to exercise more (Fitbit or Apple Watch) to helping people take control of their finances (Plum, PocketGuard or Mint), to organizing their life more effectively (Evernote, Mailbox, Todoist, etc). Good design can help people take action and achieve specific goals without much trouble.

Conclusion

Forrester Research recently released a report demonstrating that user interfaces that deliver above user expectations can increase conversion rates by up to 200%, while high-quality user experience design can bump up conversion rates by 400%.

It’s no surprise then that companies across the world are seeking to recruit designers with UX design skills as well as encourage their own design teams to immerse themselves in the UX knowledge. To create better and more innovative user experiences, businesses must embrace the trend and make user experience their top priority. Naturally, designers with the right skills and design know-how are now some of the most sought-after talents.

Three Techniques for Unforgettable Logos


Creative Cloud

We all have our favorite logos. Some for their simplicity, some for their ingenuity, some for the recognisability — and the best logos are all of the above.

But designing a logo is a unique challenge. Each potential design comes with its own set of hurdles. You may be seasoned in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but in a world inundated with logos, how can you make your designs stand out next to the hundreds of icons and logos people see every day?

We’ve asked three expert designers to share tips on how they approach logo design and their favorite techniques for creating a logo that will last.

Michael Flarup

Use cross-platform apps in your design process.
Michael Flarup, a designer from Denmark, has spent the last 15 years designing for corporations and brands. Logo design has been an integral part of his work and a challenge he revels in. “Creating a logo is design distilled,” he says. “You need to make this little scalable piece of branding that forges a connection with the people who come in contact with it. You get to be the storyteller of the brand.”

Story is an integral component to his logo designs. “A great logo is more than just a pretty mark,” Flarup says. “There needs to be a story, some deeper connection to the material and what you’re trying to convey.”

Michael uses a process that allows him to iterate on his ideas as many times and in as many ways as possible before finding what sticks. After sketching out his initial ideas on paper, then digitizing with an app like Adobe Capture, he uses Illustrator to create his basic vector shapes and tweak them until he is happy. Then he will explore color and other detailing in Photoshop.

Michael’s process begins with sketching an idea, then builds on that ideas by incorporating shapes and finally adding in colors and details. Doing so ensures the logo is solid and balanced in all aspects, not depending too heavily on any one area to carry the design. By: Michael Flarup.

See Michael talk more about his process in this video and experiment with your own version of his logo here.  

Aaron Draplin

Shortcuts and simplicity make all the difference.
Co-founder of Field Notes, Aaron Draplin knows what it takes to create simple, elegant designs that appeal to a variety of people for a variety of brands and products. Aaron says his love for logo design lives in the reward of “the invention, seeing a project come to life, and of course, seeing how it lives in the world once it leaves our fingertips.”

More than anything, Aaron tries to incorporate basic design elements into his logos. The power of these basic elements can be lost in complicated projects, but can shine in a creation like a logo design. “It might just be how a line connects, or doesn’t connect,” Aaron says. “That might be the element I savor the most, hoping it’s the tiniest move that will set it apart in the vast sea of existing logos. Simple, bold colors. Good math. Consistent line weights, angles, and geometric relations. Sure, that’s some nerdy stuff, but that’s what I’m always gunning for in my work.”

Aaron’s Field Notes brand utilizes a simple and extremely scalable logo, making it easy to create on different platforms and merchandise. Courtesy of Draplin.com.

Aaron’s favorite technique is a simple, but often forgotten one: Command + = and Command + -.  Zoom in and out. “The best logos work equally as well at the size of a pea and the size of a softball,” he says. “What you do is this: you simply ‘zoom out’ — making the mark the size of a dime — just to see how the connections feel, consistencies of line, form, negative space and color contrast. If something is a little tight or too close, you might need to adjust. More and more, the place our logos need to work are often in small places like Twitter, Instagram, or apps on a device. They have to work there.”

For a refresher on keyboard shortcuts in Illustrator, click here.

Brian Barrus

Embrace multiple iterations and hidden details.
Having worn the hat of designer and Creative Director for over 17 years, Brian Barrus currently runs his own design studio, Studio-Element, in Provo, Utah. “To me, logo design, with its smaller set of variables, is like pure design,” Brian says. “You’re stripping everything else out to see what remains.”

For Brian, the key to logo design is trying out many different options and variations. That’s what makes logos such an engaging project for designers. “They give an opportunity to iterate over and over on a very small, discreet design until you have found the best solution,” Brian says.  

The secret weapon to Brian’s is the hidden feature. “Hidden features and creative details help to give a logo impact — take the arrow in FedEx as an example,” Brian says. “The sense of  discovery the viewer experiences can be a really effective way to make your logo memorable.”

This logo design for Summerhouse Farms makes a bold statement up front, but also contains many less obvious, “hidden” details — like chickens and bumble bees — that can be appreciated the more you look at the design. By: Studio Element.

For more information on today’s hottest logo design trends, click here.

Logo design is always evolving and progressing, but one thing remains the same: A logo makes all the difference. By implementing these suggestions, you can stay ahead of the curve and bring brands to life by creating your most memorable logos yet.

Aaron Draplin and Michael Flarup will both be speaking at the MAX Creativity Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 18-20. Sign up to attend the conference and get more information here.

Artist spotlight: Gordon Reid


Creative Cloud

Gordon Reid’s conquered the UK. And he’s now set his sights upon the USA. We came across the self-confessed ‘blagger’ (note: a British term, ‘to blag’, meaning being able to get something via persuasion, with a little luck thrown in), after his watching him on the livestream sessions at OFFF in Barcelona. Since then, we’ve seen him everywhere, from Adobelive with Michael Chaize in Paris, to speaking at D&AD in London. With such design presence in Europe, we reckon he’s got a strong chance of cracking America in 2018.

ADOBE STOCK: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background?

Gordon Reid: Hi, I’m Gordon Reid, owner of Middle Boop which is a design agency focused on art direction, branding, graphic design and illustration. I live in Hackney and have a studio over in Stoke Newington. I started working mainly in the music industry then moved onto advertising where I am fortunate to have worked with and learned from some of the best in the industry, having worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, Grey, McCann and Adam & Eve DDB. I’ve worked with some of the biggest brands in the world in anything from the the Rio Olympics advertising, Nike, HSBC, GSK, Natwest, Lucozade, etc. to some popular bands like Mogwai, Bombay Bicycle Club and Newton Faulkne. But I love working with startup brands, products that are trying to find their voice and make a name for themselves by growing their brand. Those are the most exciting. I have worked with the D&AD for a couple of years now and also judged Creative Circle and Cannes Young Lions. I am currently touring my latest talk ‘Blag, Borrow and Steal your career’ around the world and have spoken all over Europe and just about to tackle America.

AS: You go by the name ‘Middle Boop’. What’s the background behind the name?

GR: Ah yes, well that name all came about when I was still at university. The deal was that I never wanted to do an internship, work for free and end up with the only way forward to become a junior designer earning his stripes by doing all of the crap work that no one else wanted to do. I just wanted to do my own thing, create my own work without having to deal with tight client specifications. I realised the value of creating quality work and figured, if I could do my own thing, create my own style and voice and gain my own clients, I could bypass all of that design agency stuff. Which….Thankfully worked in the end, after a few years of working out of my mums house creating posters for bands and fighting to earn some money. But to do all of this, I needed a name. Middle Boop came about as an in-joke between friends at a festival.  It really doesn’t mean anything but, what it did was get me to the top of Google (as no one else in the world would have this sort of ridiculous name), and has had people asking the question about what the name is about ever since!

AS: How would you describe your style?

GR: Irreverent, geometric, vibrant and a total blag.AS: Where do you find your inspiration?

GR: All over the place really, mostly me just meandering through day to day life and finding inspiration from things all around me, anything from an interaction to travel. I’m inspired a lot by old school British colloquialisms and humour.

AS: What’s been your biggest challenge to overcome in the design industry?

GR: Keeping ahead of the game has always been my biggest challenge. Keeping on top of new trends and making sure that, although I need to be aware of them, ensuring that my work doesn’t fall into the trap of a certain trend or style that will only be en vogue for a certain amount of time. I learned that lesson the hard way in the heady days of digital illustration. Getting known for doing one thing and one thing well is extremely important and necessary when you’re trying to find your voice and make a name for yourself in the industry, so people remember you and recognise your style. Like all of the great logos, you can take away the name of the brand and still instantly recognise that brand. You need your audience to recognise your work without really thinking about it. The flip side is, once you’ve established yourself, how do you stay ahead of the game and make sure yours is a style that is versatile enough to last and not age badly, on top of that, a style that works for all of the new technologies and trends that come out, so that you can build your career and evolve.

AS: What are your perceptions of stock images, and do you think the perception is changing?

GR: I think stock imagery and stock graphics can be a huge help for any creative for all sorts of reasons. Time is a massive one, stock sites can save so much time when trying to illustrate a particular message and sell in an idea, effective use of stock imagery can really speed up the process. The amount of ads and concepts I’ve worked on over the years where you comp together a few stock images and suddenly bring that image to life has saved me days and days. Also obviously it’s cost effective too, although some concepts are too abstract and it’s unavoidable to just shoot it, most ideas and concepts you can get away with using stock imagery to sell that idea in. People have also certainly been known to use stock imagery for final application of ads and graphics too. The quality of some of these images are undeniable so why not? I think as sites like Adobe Stock are coming into the forefront, perceptions are certainly changing and moving away from the ‘watermarked, white teeth, cheesy grinning office worker’ shots that are readily available in some of the cheaper sites and more towards these sites being a total necessity in our industry.

AS: What’s been your favorite project to work on to date?

GR: Well I have to say, my favourite project recently was working with your good selves on the Adobe Live three day project with Michael Chaize, where I was filmed creating a piece, talking through my work and application for two hours over three days. That was such a unique project and I got to meet so many awesome people and get to know the Adobe community a lot better. Really enjoyable. I also got to work on the entire look and feel for the music festival Hijacked. That was so cool. It all started from one illustrated poster and then we built the entire brand and strategy around that. It ended up with all of the stages being crafted with huge 3D workings of my artwork. Incredible.

AS: What are you excited to work on in 2017?

GR: There’s so much I want to do this year really. I’m very excited about getting out on the road more and touring my talk ‘blag borrow and steal your career.’ So far I’ve been all over Europe and am heading out to America this summer to do a few more conferences. On top of that, I’ve got some great projects just about to start, from branding, illustration, packaging and advertising. There are some cool brands I’ll be working with hopefully too so I’m definitely pumped to see how those go down.

AS: What music do you currently listen to whilst working (if any!)?

GR: I listen to so much music really. I’ve been working in the music industry since I started designing and thankfully with that I’ve been fortunate enough to tour and be pals with some amazing musicians and bands who send me their music. I basically listen to very noisy, heavy droney stuff, East coast rap, and all sorts of other depressing stuff.

AS: What design trends should we be looking out for this year?

GR: Anything I’m doing, keep an eye on my work and that will keep you busy ha.

A big thanks to Gordon for speaking with us. You can find out more about Gordon and Middle Boop on his website, on Behance and on Instagram.

Maintaining A Work-Life Balance When You’re The Boss: UX Designer Shane Mielke’s Top Tips

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Creative Cloud

Being an in-demand UX designer can be a double-edged sword; while you can make great money and stay engaged working on interesting projects, it’s easy to throw yourself into your work and lose track of your personal life. UX designer and author Shane Mielke is at the top of his game, but it hasn’t always been easy for him to find balance. Years ago, just as his professional life was really ramping up, his family started to grow. With his first daughter on the way, a wife embarking on a new career, and a move to a different city, life got busy.

Shane responded by pushing himself to “provide,” grinding 24/7 to generate as much business as possible. It wasn’t long before his work-life balance tanked. Years later, just when it looked like his work may cost him his family, he did a full pivot and rethought his approach to life and work. We asked Shane to share some practical tips he discovered for making sure your professional life doesn’t destroy your personal one.

When did you know you had to make a big change?

When I got the magical shoulder tap. My wife said ‘honey we need to talk.’ It had been six or seven years of non-stop hustling at that point.

It was hard, because I felt like it was almost like a slap in the face. You feel like you’re doing the right thing by taking on all this work to provide for your family, and now you’re being asked to pull back on it. But really this was a catalyst and growing point.

How did you make the transition in your life?

There’s always something that’s going to need to be done at work. The way you combat this is having something better to do outside of work. You have to have a wife or husband who’s like, it’s 5 o’clock, we have to go. Maybe it’s kids who need to get to tutoring or sports. Schedule a vacation months in advance that you’re financially committed to and can’t get out of. Or maybe you just need to schedule something for yourself (like setting an hour aside everyday to go work out).

Instead of planning your day around the work you have to do, you plan your day around the things you want to be doing outside of work. I now worry more about disappointing my wife or my kids than I do about disappointing a client.

What this means is I really need to hustle to get my work done so I’m not in trouble in my personal life.

So it’s about eliminating the little distractions?

That’s a huge part of it. Take a mason jar, and fill it half way with sand (the little distractions and unimportant tasks). Now take some rocks (the really important things in life) and try to fit them in. You won’t be able to.

You need to switch things up and put the rocks in first, then the sand goes on top. You have to focus on the big things first, then see how much room is left for the distractions.

EMBED: https://youtu.be/uaJfjwL75cs

What’s your advice for ‘setting hours’ when you do project-based work?

As an employee, you already know you’re getting paid, you have the insurance of an employer. As a freelancer, you don’t have that guarantee. You have to be aware that you are a business and your time is valuable. If you go over and above the scope of work, too often, you end up making less money, being more tired, and your personal life will suffer.

If you keep that in your mind, you will develop a detector in your head on whether a project might be a bad fit for you. Every project is an amazing microcosm of time spent working, deadlines, and budgets. There are times when you have to look at a project and say ‘it’s not going to be quite as creative as I wanted because time’s running out, and I’m not willing to put in the crazy extra hours.’

Then there are other projects when you say, this one’s special, and you can tell it will be worth the extra time and energy. Factor all of these variables in, and use them to help you determine when you’re going to tap out and when to say no.

How else can you be efficient as a UX designer, for the sake of your personal life?

Have a good understanding of your own style. Sure you need some diversity of skills to avoid always doing the same type of project, but once you understand the things you like to do, it eliminates some of the doubt in problem-solving and design and you can work faster.

There comes a certain point as a designer when you have to trust that people are coming to you for your solution and not waste time second guessing.

What’s at stake if you don’t consciously prioritize your personal life?

The thought process for many UX designers, especially younger ones, is ‘we’re doing something that’s pretty fun, it can be done at all hours of the day, so why not work around the clock?’ Those designers need to know what the possible consequences are. You could end up divorced, you could end up with your family hating you, you could end up with health problems because of your poor diet and caffeine consumption.

The more people know about these pitfalls early in their careers, the easier it is for them to make decisions about how long they work at a certain pace, what they agree to do, or the kinds of work they do in the first place.

In today’s day and age, you can and should really craft your own career and pathway. You can do high level work, and do the things you want to do within the hours of the day. In a way, it’s like having your cake and eating it too.

Check out Shane Mielke’s work and learn more about his book, Launch It, over on his website.