Design Your Own Adventure with Airstream

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Creative Cloud

In 1931, Airstream began with Wally Byam’s dream: to design a travel trailer that would move like a stream of air, be light enough to be towed by a car, and create first-class accommodations anywhere. Wally’s focus on sleek and highly efficient design is a value we have maintained through the decades. The Airstream Globetrotter is our latest iteration of commitment to Wally’s vision. This trailer is a celebration of European design. With its soft curves and symmetry, the Globetrotter offers a clean, uncluttered look that celebrates simplicity and order. It’s our most design-forward Airstream that feels as comfortable as it is cosmopolitan.

Part of our mission has always been, “To open a whole world of new experiences…a new dimension in enjoyment where travel, adventure, and good fellowship are your constant companions.” To us, innovation is just as important as maintaining the classic Airstream look and feel. As we launch our latest designs and continue looking forward to offer people a world of new experiences, we’re challenging and inviting the world’s top designers to share their favorite creations with us in the form of an exterior trailer wrap.

What would it look like to have your designs featured on the exterior of one of our iconic travel trailers? It’s time to find out.

Visit www.AirstreamDesignContest.com to download your Airstream Travel Trailer template and find a full set of instructions. Use this template to throw your personal touch on one of our travel trailers. Think big, bold, over the top… or calm, cool, and understated – we want you to express your own signature style.

Once you have created your very own travel trailer wrap, upload your designs onto Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag: #AirstreamDesignContest. The winner will be chosen by a team of Airstream and Adobe executives and announced on November 15, 2017. Qualifying entries will be judged on skill, originality, technical excellence, composition, overall impact, and artistic merit.

For the winner of this contest, the entire contiguous United States will be your playground as you will receive a 1 month road trip as a part of Airstream’s Endless Caravan – in a travel trailer featuring your designs!

Win Big at MAX


Creative Cloud

Win BIG at MAX with great prizes such as a Dell Precision 5720 All in One Workstation, a Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Camera Kit, and much more!

We have lots of incredible prizes available, courtesy of our sponsors. We wanted to give you the rundown:

Option 1: Play the MAX Sponsor Game

Visit the Sponsors in the Community Pavilion and use the MAX mobile app to scan the QR code found at each sponsor booth. Receive a virtual trophy every time you scan a code as you build up points.

You get this many points per sponsor:

Diamond sponsor booth trophies are each worth 25 points
Platinum sponsor booth trophies are each worth 20 points
Gold sponsor booth trophies are each worth 15 points
Silver sponsor booth trophies are each worth 10 points
Bronze sponsor booth trophies are each worth 10 points
Exhibitor and participating Engagement booth trophies are each worth 5 points

It’s fun! It’s easy! We’ve got great prizes!

Option 2: Complete the Breakout Survey

We’ve got 3 daily grand prize giveaways for the session/lab/workshop surveys – complete the survey at the end of your session, and you could win one of 3 Wacom Intuos Pro Tablets, or an eBook from Pearson.

Option 3: Complete the Overall Conference Survey at the End of MAX

Check your email at the end of the conference for the link, and give us your feedback on what you thought of MAX 2017 by completing our overall conference survey, and you’ll be entered to win one of 3 DJI Sparks.

Option 4: Attend Select Sponsor Sessions and Sponsor Booths

Attend sessions hosted by some of our sponsors and win:

o  S708 – How Far Can Design Stretch? Mixed Reality? AI? 2D/3D? Hosted by Microsoft. Microsoft will give away a Surface Pro i7 at this session.

o   S711 – Creating Virtual Reality Video. Attend and win a pair of Google cardboard VR glasses

o   S706 – From Concept to Console: How Design Drives World’s Best-Selling Video Games. Win a Sony Playstation 4 Slim courtesy of Wrike

o   S710 – Unleashing the Power of Adobe Creative Cloud with Artist Android Jones. Attend this HP session and you could win a one hour one-on-one design consult with Android Jones

o   S709 – Transparent Teams: Driving Alignment Through an Open Creative Process. Dropbox will be giving away and Apple Watch Series 3 Hermes Edition.

o   S707 – Vimeo Staff Picks: Behind the Scenes. You could win a 1 year Vimeo PRO membership.

Winners

Winners will be announced each morning. Winners will be contacted by Adobe and prizes will picked up onsite or will be shipped directly to them.

You can choose all these options and increase your chance of walking away with an amazing prize. We’ll see you at MAX!

Finding Your Creative Path in a Between World


Creative Cloud

This month we’re writing about young artists who find themselves, one way or another, in limbo. We wondered how artists decide to try new tools or stick with old ones, and how they find creative balance between the digital and physical worlds. What happens when two different creative approaches defy balance, and maybe even crash into one another? For insights, we spoke with graphic designer Tina Touli and photographer Mario AV.

“I’m Against Stagnation”

As a designer, Tina specializes in branding, typography, and editorial design, so her passions run the gamut from web design all the way to bookbinding. We asked her about bridging so many different technologies, old and new. “I am keen on exploring the possibilities of working between two worlds, the physical and digital one,” she explained. “I like jumping back and forth between them.”

Of course, meshing the real world and the digital world isn’t always easy. Tina says the key is to set aside the fear of failure. In fact, there’s a good chance things won’t go as you intended, but those moments present new possibilities. “That is what I enjoy the most—all these challenging and happy accidents during the design process,” Tina says.

Take, for example, the time Tina created a poster to celebrate 30 years of Adobe Illustrator. She started by handcrafting an elaborate paper sculpture of the number 30 that could flip like the pages in a book. But the flipping pages didn’t show the number as she’d planned, so when it came time to film a Graphic Design Live Stream of her process, she improvised on the fly. The end result is stunning, and a great example of how the digital-meets-physical process can unfold, surprises and all.

Image courtesy of Tina Touli

Tina recently created another real-world-meets-digital-world project for us, a piece called “Caught in Limbo.” She used lenses (for the first time) to create intriguing distortion effects. This meant figuring out how the lenses worked with the light and other physical objects, and avoiding unexpected challenges, like when they reflected the laptop she was using.

As an artist who loves to experiment, Tina always has her eye out for the latest technologies to try. “I am against stagnation,” she explains. “What motivates me and keeps me going is the excitement of something new. I like to continuously challenge myself by experimenting with new tools and techniques and by learning new skills and exploring new fields and new mediums.” For the near future, she has her eye on moving images and 3D design tools.

“If You’re Hungry for New Things…You Will Be Rewarded”

Photographer Mario AV began his creative career as a photographer booking gigs with clients. But he craved independence and the freedom to explore his own creative ideas, so he started making stock images full time. It gives him a chance to experiment with retouching technology, and to branch out. Now, he’s jumping into video. “It’s more alive and inspirational,” he explains.

Just like Tina, Mario has had to manage clashes between the digital world and the physical one, even when he wasn’t expecting them. One experience stands out. It was a rainy day and Mario traveled to the mountainous coast of Spain, to the site of an old church now better known as the castle of Targaryens in Game of Thrones. With the dramatic cliffs and moody, breathtaking scenery, he couldn’t resist an opportunity to experiment with his drone camera.

As the camera flew further away, Mario viewed the footage he was capturing, including a seagull flying aggressively—right for his lens. He pulled back the throttle, sending the drone backward as fast as it could go, narrowly avoiding a digital-world-meets-real-world crash. And he never turned off the camera. “It’s a really epic shot that I’ll remember for a long time,” he says.

Since striking out on his own for a more exploratory career, Mario has embraced new tools and technologies as inspiration. “If you are hungry for new things and learning how to be better than you were yesterday—very soon you will be rewarded.”

More Stories in Limbo

Want to think more about what it means to be an artist in limbo? Read about young creatives in a world that’s changing fast, and check out our gallery of images Caught in Limbo from Adobe Stock.

Header image by MarioAV.

 

Move Quickly, Design Effectively: When a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Becomes A UX Designer’s Best Friend


Creative Cloud

Digital design is a fast-growing market with a lot of new products released on a daily basis, and it’s becoming more important than ever for designers to be able to move quickly. One of the best ways to do this is by designing for a MVP (minimum viable product).

In this article, I’ll describe the concept of a MVP, show why it’s so valuable for designers, and identify two popular strategies UX designers can use to create a MVP.

What Is A Minimum Viable Product?

MVP is the shortest path from idea to validated learning. According to Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, the MVP is the version of a new product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

MVP is the smallest thing that a product team can build that delivers customer value and helps to collect feedback from them. Image credit: Calvin C. Chan (@calvincchan)

The MVP and Lean Startup Circle

In essence, MVPs embody all the best practices associated with Agile and Lean UX–an emphasis on collaboration and fast delivery (Agile) as well as measurement and validation of a product (Lean). The purpose of a MVP is to learn, to validate, and invalidate a hypothesis.

One of the most important things you need to know while building a MVP is the Lean Startup Build-Measure-Learn cycle. The Lean model says that it is best to build fast and measure/analyze each iteration of a product.

Lean Startup Build-Measure-Learn circle

MVP as a Process

MVPs are the cheapest and faster way product team can start learning. As Eric Ries said: “As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.”

The process of creating a MVP usually contains 6 steps:

  1. Find a problem worth solving.
  2. Determine the smallest possible solution (MVP).
  3. Make sure the MVP communicates the value of the product.
  4. Build the solution.
  5. Test it with early adopters (also known as earlyvangelists) and obtain feedback on the MVP.
  6. Determine the strategic direction of further product development.

Why Designers Should Care about MVPs

MVPs are all about maximizing the value that designers will get back as soon as possible with minimal risk. There are several key benefits of using the MVP process:

  • Minimizing risk while maximizing viability. The most important benefit is the possibility of verifying a hypothesis before building an actual product. Instead of building a complete finished product, designers can test pieces of the product with real customers and, with their feedback, continue to iteratively improve the product. Proper use of a MVP allows you to build a product they will simply love.
  • Eliminate dead weight.A vast majority of products have dead weight–a set of features that don’t bring any value to users. A MVP makes it possible to eliminate dead weight and save time/resources dedicated to design & development.
  • Better know a user’s wants and needs. A MVP can accelerate the team’s learning regarding what the user actually wants/needs while using rapid iteration to deliver it. A MVP focuses teams on what is important.

How A MVP Is Different from Other Design Models

There are two popular approaches to building products–Traditional and ‘Release Early, Release Often.’

MVP vs. The Traditional Design Model

In a traditional design model, product teams try to design the entire product all at once. The intent behind this is simple: designers believe that unless the whole thing is designed and built, the product won’t be a coherent and complete experience. In other words, designers try to maximize the chance of success.

Unfortunately, this approach rarely works well for a number of reasons. The two most critical issues of this approach are:

  • It isn’t flexible. Trying to design a final product in one fell swoop is the same as trying to plan every last detail of a long journey before it’s even started. No matter how thoughtful the plan is, there will be a moment (or moments) in the journey when things don’t go according to plan.

  • You risk building a product for yourself, not your user. A traditional approach often doesn’t take into account customer needs and wants. The absence of an actual feedback loop makes it very risky and definitely not agile. It’s not that rare to find a product team that has spent a lot of time (3-5 years) building a product they think their customers want, only to discover they don’t want it at all.

Unlike traditional design practices, which usually focus on features and feature sets, the MVP model is focused on learning. With MVPs, product teams keep the big picture in mind, but as far as details go they take small continuous steps toward the destination. They measure the progress they’ve made, make all required adjustments, and only after that do they take another step.

In the example below, you can see how this works in practice. Here you can see the difference between a traditional design approach vs. a MVP for the project, which aims to build a car. With the MVP, designers focus on the underlying need the customer wants fulfilled. The underlying need, in this case, is ‘I want to get from A to B faster.’ After the first iteration, the team delivers the ‘lite’ version of the product (a skateboard), and will get the customer to test it and give feedback. Of course, the customer is unlikely to be happy with this–it’s nowhere near the car that he ordered. That’s OK though, since the primary goal for the product team is to learn; to test a hypothesis about the product and gather feedback.

The concept of value is vital to the MVP strategy – a wheel itself has no value to a user but a skateboard does. Deliver usable products to allow learning to take place. Illustration by Henrik Kniberg

MVP vs. The ‘Release Early, Release Often’ Model

The MVP strategy can be compared to the ‘Release Early, Release Often’ strategy: when a team simply throws whatever they have on the market and then listens to what customers say about it.

Both strategies are focused on gathering customer feedback and iterating. The key difference is the design objective: the MVP strategy has a clear objective prior to engaging with customers and seeks reassurance on that strategy, while “Release Early, Release Often” relies on customers to set the objectives as it evolves. Both strategies can be used for developing products; however, the ‘Release Early, Release Often’ strategy won’t work in some cases (like innovative products, for example). When you show an innovative product to 20 customers you might get 20 different opinions.

It’s better to change the product many times and upgrade it often instead of hiding the product from everybody and building it for yourself – not the customers.

What’s Required to Benefit from A MVP

To be able to effectively design MVPs it’s important to have a holistic understanding of the concept of a MVP.

The MVP Isn’t A Minimal Set of Features

Some designers try to approach the MVP by looking for some minimal feature set required to create a working product. This misses the point of an MVP. The MVP requires you to treat the product as a set of experiences rather than a collection of features and functionality.

A MVP Is Both A Minimum and A Viable Product

A MVP is both a minimum and a viable product. This might sound obvious, but all too often project teams get caught up in the ‘minimum’ aspect of creating a MVP without thinking about ensuring they build a ‘viable product.’ This results in products that are unstable and unusable. Using a poorly executed MVP to test the market will likely lead to negative market feedback, regardless of how great an original concept is. Of course, a MVP shouldn’t be a complete product but it should be valuable to those who will test it.

People often completely skipping over the “V” in MVP. MVP has been misused because of too much focus on minimal and too little focus on viable. Image credits: Jussi Pasanen‏

Quick To Create

A MVP refers to releasing something quickly, whether it’s a physical product or just a landing page. If a product team has a hypothesis about a certain feature or even a whole product, a MVP should be the fastest way to test that hypothesis and reveal whether it’s correct or not. There’s a simple rule to MVPs: the more time it takes to complete, the less valuable it becomes. A MVP should be created in hours or days, not in months or weeks.

At the same time, speed doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of quality. Adopting Agile/Lean tools and methods in the UX design process will make it possible to iterate quickly at the appropriate quality.

While there isn’t a specific amount of time within which a team should create an MVP, the more time it takes to complete, the less valuable it becomes.

Testable

Testing viability is the bread and butter of MVP­-driven UX design. The MVP should allow designers to learn from what they built through measurement. Gathered metrics will inform the degree to which the original prediction about design was accurate.

Two Popular MVP Design Strategies

As mentioned, product designers don’t always have to build a fully-functional prototype in order to create a MVP. There’s a wide variety of methods one can utilize to test a hypothesis. Here are two popular ways of approaching the design of a MVP:

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

This approach was popularized by the Lean Startup movement. Instead of building an actual product, a product team imagines that the product has already been built and creates the marketing page to sell it. The goal of this is to check whether the product is interesting for the target audience. Product designers analyze the key quantitative metrics (such as a number of sign-ups) to determine a potential interest for the product. If a product team isn’t satisfied with results (e.g. total number of signups is less than expected), they can modify the advertising properties (e.g. modify a message on the marketing page) to see if that has an impact.

Buffer is one good example of a company that used this strategy. If you aren’t familiar with Buffer, it’s an app that makes it easy to share content on social media. When starting out, Joel Gascoigne, Buffer’s founder, had an idea of the product in mind, but he didn’t want to get stuck building a product no one wanted to use. Instead, he built a simple landing page to learn if users were really having a problem scheduling and managing social media publications.

Buffer began with no product at all. Buffer’s founder, Joel Gascoigne used a simple landing page to gauge interest.

Buffer’s first minimum viable product explained what Buffer was, how it would work, how much it would cost, and had a signup form. When visitors tried to sign up they were shown a message explaining that the Buffer wasn’t ready yet and they could sign up for updates by typing in their email address. Joel used the email addresses received from the signup form to start conversations with potential users of the product, gaining valuable insight into what they wanted. By relying solely on landing pages, he was able to validate two hypotheses (people are interested in the product and they would pay for it) for little cost.

Turk

In some cases, it’s possible to manually simulate features that will eventually be rolled into a product. This is what is known as a mechanical Turk: a user inputs a request, that request is sent to an actual person who manually performs the task, and the results (which appear to be product output) are given back to the user.

Chess playing mechanical Turk. Image credits: Wikipedia

In 1999, Nick Swinmurn wanted to build an online store for shoes but he wasn’t sure whether people would use it. He popped down to his local shoe store and photographed pairs of shoes. The photographs were uploaded to a super-simple website. When a site visitor clicked on the button to buy a pair, Nick would go to the store where he took the photo and buy the shoes. From a business point of view there was zero infrastructure and zero inventory, but from the customer’s point of view, everything appears to be perfectly fine. This is the first page in the story of the company called Zappos.

Conclusion

The MVP process is valuable for every UX designer, whether he or she works at a startup or a big corporation. Learning from users, minimizing risk, and maximizing viability are all worthwhile objectives.

Introducing the 2017 Adobe MAX Insiders


Creative Cloud

We’re thrilled to share the talented and inspiring group of creatives from around the world we’ve invited to be this year’s Adobe MAX Insiders. Serving as the eyes and ears on the ground for the community members who aren’t able to join us, the MAX Insiders will be sharing their experience at the keynotes, sneaks, parties and more on social media. They’ll even get behind-the-scenes at some exclusive events.

Get to know the MAX Insiders below, and be sure to follow their adventures at #AdobeMAX as they experience our creativity event of the year!

North America


























EMEA

















APAC















Japan








Don’t forget you can also get Adobe MAX updates on Twitter via @CreativeCloud and @AdobeMAX!

Take a Look at Some of Our MAX Partner Sessions


Creative Cloud

One of the challenges at MAX is building your session schedule — there’s so much to choose from! We wanted to highlight some of our partner sessions, and encourage you to sign up for one or more if you’ll be attending in person this year. Here are just a few we recommend, hosted by experts from companies you’re sure to recognize:

  • Transparent Teams: Driving Alignment Through an Open Creative Process – Presented by Dropbox
    Modern creative teams are made up of a fluid workforce: freelancers, vendors, agencies, and cross-functional in-house teams collaborating across the globe. Dropbox believes that a transparent process is the key to keeping teams in sync, improving the flow of work, and bringing the best ideas to life.Whether you’re a designer, marketer, or someone who manages creative teams, attend this session to learn how you can:

    • Use an open design process to launch new products and campaigns
    • Inspire your colleagues to unleash their creative energy, generate new ideas, and uncover better insights
    • Transition your team to a new way of working
  • How Far Can Design Stretch? Mixed Reality? AI? 2D/3D? – Presented by Albert Shum – CVP, Microsoft
    We have a big canvas to stretch in digital design. Web, mobile, PC, tablet, collaboration displays, and mixed reality all vie for attention in an increasingly immersive world. We use touch, gesture, voice, inking, keyboard, mouse, dial, and gaze as inputs. How do we create engaging design for all of these experiences, at so many cross points? How do we keep people, rather than tech, at the heart of things?Join Albert Shum, Microsoft CVP of Design, for an inspiring discussion about bringing creativity to the future of design thinking, and building a system that will scale.In this session, we’ll share:

    • Historical context on UX design and the evolution of emerging UX
    • A glimpse into Microsoft’s Fluent Design System
    • What you can do to scale your designs
  • Learning from the Best: Tips & Tricks for Creating the Best Videos – Presented by Vimeo
    Want to get your videos noticed on social media? Come for an in-depth look at the process behind curating a daily showcase of the best short narratives, documentaries, animations, and music videos on the Internet with Vimeo Staff Picks. Founded in 2008, Vimeo Staff Picks has emerged as one of the preeminent channels for online video and one of the most coveted awards for young content creators, having helped launch the careers of many celebrated directors.
  • From Concept to Console: How Design Drives World’s Best-Selling Video Games – Presented in Partnership with Wrike, Sony and One Pixel Brush
    Game on! Compelling creative designs are critical to today’s gaming experience. Follow the game journey from concept to studio to marketing and post launch. Hear stories and lessons learned from the legendary creative minds behind the visual styles of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, The Last of Us Part II, and others. Join us for a panel discussion with top leaders in the gaming industry.In this session, you will:

    • See how One Pixel Brush concept art studio uses compelling visual design to inspire development teams
    • Discover how Sony PlayStation’s Creative Studios turns visual concepts into gaming nirvana
    • Hear from PlayStation Marketing’s head of creative design about the design roles and processes involved in launching and marketing new releases
    • Learn how to leverage creative design to create customer buzz, loyalty, and community
  • Mapping Your Path to Great Design – Presented by ESRI
    • Maps are everywhere, see how to use them for brand reinforcement and visual storytelling. As data visualization diagrams, maps have been around for thousands of years. Today, with the recent explosion of location-based information, clients and customers want maps for all forms of digital media and marketing. Join Esri, the world leader in analytics and mapping software to:
      • Learn the basics of cartography — the art and science of making maps
      • Discover how to design with data-driven maps directly in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Adobe Muse
      • Explore location-based analysis and visualization techniques, including 3D and video
  • Creating Virtual Reality Video – Presented by Google
    • Virtual reality opens up new ways to create and experience immersive storytelling. Join VR creators Gary Hustwit, Jessica Edwards, Ben Ross, and Brittany Neff as they show work they’ve created with Google, Oculus, the Wall Street Journal, and others and discuss techniques for making compelling 360 video. If you’ve been wondering how to make VR content or have already started experimenting with this new medium, this session is for you.In this session, you’ll learn:
    • Creative approaches: What types of stories work best in VR?
    • How to get started shooting 360 video, both monoscopic and stereoscopic
    • Differences between the standard video and 360 video editing workflow
    • How to capture and use audio in VR content
    • What VR tools are now part of Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects
  • Unleashing the Power of Creative Cloud with Artist Android Jones
    • Join Android Jones along with reps from HP and NVIDIA on a creative storytelling experience. Android is an artist and digital painter, known for his many layered, immersive designs and live performances. He participated in the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well tour, and his work has been projected on iconic landmarks across the globe including the Sydney Opera House and the Empire State Building.In this session, Android will:
    • Demonstrate his creative workflow
    • Share his journey as an artist and answer any questions you’ve been dying to ask
    • Discuss how HP and NVIDIA technologies can help push Adobe Creative Cloud to new limits

Is a Creative by Any Other Name Just as Talented?


Creative Cloud

This post is from Workgroups DaVinci, an Adobe MAX 2017 partner. We’d like to thank all our MAX partners who help make the conference possible.

Language is elastic, always expanding to encompass new ideas and phrases that emerge from the cultural zeitgeist–words like selfie, ghosting, photobomb and binge-watch are all fairly fresh additions to our collective lexicon. As we add new words, we also change how we use existing ones. Creative is one such word. Historically an adjective, its usage as a noun to describe a particular type of job (as in I’m part of a team of ten creatives) has been growing in recent years and not everyone is pleased with this evolution.

As the makers of workflow management software for creative and marketing teams, we decided to survey designers, illustrators, writers, developers and executives on how they feel about creative as a noun. Is it a useful catch-all like educator (which can apply to anyone from a kindergarten teacher to a tenured professor) or just one more piece of eyeroll-worthy business jargon that we can live without?

The results, presented in the infographic below, might surprise you.

From Architecture to UX Design: Shopify Design Lead Will MacIvor Shares His Career Journey


Creative Cloud

Will MacIvor is currently a Design Lead at Shopify, and his path to getting there has been a winding one. MacIvor has a diverse set of education and experiences, including a physics degree, and work in architecture. He is no stranger to the startup world, having invested a portion of his career in leading design at Meta (formerly Sciencescape), a company aiming to accelerate the pace of scientific research. He has lead teams at organizations including Loblaw Companies (Canada’s largest retailer) and TD Bank. In conversation, MacIvor shared his experiences and advice on UX and beyond.

Beginnings and the Remnants of a Physics Undergrad

Before jumping over to digital design, MacIvor did an undergrad in physics and a Masters in Architecture. These experiences stayed with him. “What really remains for me from my physics undergrad is the ability to break down a very complex problem into discrete parts. That has served me well in the analytical early design process! Coming out of my undergrad, I wanted to find a way to combine the creative and the technical, so I decided to do a Masters in Architecture. All along the way, I was doing freelance design and web development work,” said MacIvor.

His dad was a photographer, which meant that MacIvor had access to the earliest versions of Photoshop in his home from a young age. He loved tinkering with computers and the internet. “I was obsessed with making covers for my mixtapes!” laughed MacIvor. “I spent tons of time playing around in Photoshop.”

From designing mixtape covers to banking applications!

On Realising UX was ‘A Thing’

MacIvor was working days as a Project Architect and evenings/weekends as a freelance web designer when a friend of his from undergrad approached him with a challenge to solve. With an archaic model of the journal-based distribution of peer-reviewed academic research, it was a struggle for researchers to remain current in their fields. There had to be a better way to push relevant information to science researchers. MacIvor contributed to the early proof of concept work for what became Sciencescape (now Meta), joined the two co-founders as employee number one, and went on to become Head of Product Design.

Transitioning from Architecture to Digital has meant a shift in some key aspects of the work MacIvor does.

“That’s when I started to really try to think about how to transmute the architectural design process to a digital one. I think some of the things that I had found most frustrating in architecture – the glacial pace of the project, the lack of access to users – were solved by working in a digital design process,” MacIvor shared.

Shopify’s offices in Toronto where MacIvor is based.

“Tech felt like a really good fit. Architecture can feel like an old man’s game, whereas in technology your youth is an asset, not a liability. When I took that plunge into a new industry, I didn’t want to fail so I tried to absorb everything I could. I talked to as many people as I could, and tried to understand all of the possible ways I could approach designing a digital product.”

On Preferring ‘Product Designer’ to ‘UX Designer’

MacIvor quickly found himself drawn to the world of lean UX, which involved talking to people, quickly prototyping, validation and rapid iteration. For MacIvor, designing in an in-house context needs to consider both user and market needs.

“I feel like I’ve spent the last few years advocating for the product designer title, rather than the UX designer title. While a UX designer does have to consider the needs of the market and the user, I think the distinction with product designers in an internal team is that we don’t have the luxury of only representing the needs of our users. We have to speak the language of the business and to understand that we are building a product that needs to find a market fit. As a product designer, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions – and ultimately build better products – if you understand as many of the constraints and opportunities up front. The real challenge is to do this while protecting the team’s ability to deliver the highest amount of value to the end user.”

Some sketches and wireframes from MacIvor’s work.

On Working In-house Versus Agency

Since leading the design practice at Meta in a startup environment, MacIvor has gone on to work in a variety of contexts. Designing a career that gave him access to many different ways of working was important to him. Each role and each organization were a rich growth experience, with a focus on ‘learning through doing’. MacIvor has worked freelance, with startups, in client services, and most recently leading internal design teams at TD, Loblaw, and now Shopify. For MacIvor, a common thread has been working with teams and leading design practice.

Throughout his career, MacIvor has naturally gravitated to working with teams and leading design practice.

“I went from a few years growing and leading the design team at a startup to working as a product manager with an agency. I wanted to learn as much as possible about how to effectively deliver complex projects, and I found that I loved being client facing and working with diverse teams of motivated specialists. Back at Meta, we all needed to be generalists and wear many hats. Working as a product manager in the agency model, it was satisfying helping to frame the project opportunity through target segments and user flows and then managing the team to deliver the work. While working at a bank, I was learning about working at scale in an organization that was not necessarily digital first. The opportunity to work at Loblaw as the first UX designer and design manager hired and build the team from there was too good to pass up. Now at Shopify, I’m bringing everything I’ve learned so far to a natively digital organization and business. Shopify’s culture is a great fit, and they inherently understand how to deliver digital products and services which means our designers can spend less time managing peripheral stakeholders and more energy focused on delivering the best possible experience for our merchants,” said MacIvor.

Advice for Designers Starting Out

Teaching and sharing his experience has been a natural fit for MacIvor. He is a lead educator at Brainstation, teaching their UX course. In his day job as a Design Lead at Shopify, he is often interviewing candidates for both internships and full-time positions. Some of the best UX designers he has come across have backgrounds in writing or film, and have a wonderful ability to empathize with people, get super-curious about their motivations, and tell really effective stories. MacIvor emphasizes the importance of all the soft-skills required to collaborate effectively as a team.

MacIvor with some of the product design team at Shopify.

“You can teach people everything, but you can’t teach them to care,” said MacIvor. “Having a growth mindset, being open to learning and challenging yourself is a powerful way to position yourself. Base knowledge of common tools and harder skills around design fundamentals are a minimum requirement, and it’s a natural place for new designers to focus. But don’t get caught up in empty formalism or pure aesthetics – design exists to solve complicated problems, and that means collaborating with large teams. So-called ‘soft-skills’ are essential. Can you rationalize your design decisions? Are you able to effectively collaborate with others? Are you mature enough to know when to ask for input and when to come with a recommendation? Soft skills are underrated, but they are so important.”

A portfolio site for an architecture firm that MacIvor designed and built as a way to practice his design skills and connect with people he admired.

In terms of learning the hard skills, MacIvor recommends finding ways to learn by doing. “Classes and boot camps offer great options for a structured introduction. I don’t think they necessarily qualify you for employment. Bootcamps and part-time courses are not job training but if it’s within your means that’s a pretty obvious place to start. Beyond that, volunteer your time by trying to work for friends or family. Do an unsolicited redesign for your local museum. Build event pages for your school clubs. Start your own clothing brand. Publish a zine on a topic you’re passionate about. Make something in the world – don’t get stuck in a screen. Tinker and play, and try to help other people solve problems using tools they didn’t know existed. Really spend time trying to help and understand people. Find ways to practice and apply your design skills,” advises MacIvor.

On the Future of Design

For MacIvor, the future of design is bright, as many organizations look to differentiate through well-designed experiences. He sees successful organizations moving away from legacy silos, and towards one holistic customer experience, regardless of technology or channel.

“As designers we are tasked with being the conductor of the orchestra, collaborating with the business and engineering side in order to deliver great experiences. Being able to bridge logistics and ops with the human side of things is a unique mindset in most orgs. Not too many other people think about how to help their colleagues be successful,” said MacIvor. “Staying focused on people, both the human beings using the products and services we’re designing and the human beings working alongside us inside these companies – will mean we’re always relevant.”

For more, you can check out Will MacIvor’s portfolio, LinkedIn profile, follow him on Twitter or read his writing about design on Medium.

How to Protect Your Creative Assets with Adobe Acrobat

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Creative Cloud

As we enter National Cyber Security Awareness Month, it’s only fitting that we spend some time thinking about the security of our intellectual property (IP), specifically our creative IP. For most creative professionals, your work product is your livelihood and central to the success of your business. While creative IP conversations typically focus on finished work product, more attention needs to be paid to ideation and creation stages of the process. For creatives, this means taking steps to protect and maintain the integrity of the creative workflow.

Throughout the creative process, you share everything from brand identities and new product images to creative campaign concepts with colleagues, clients, and agency partners. The reverse is also true—and your clients and partners want to keep their IP away from their competitors. So how can you help make sure that these assets are reaching only the people for whom they’re intended?

The answer lies within Adobe Acrobat DC. By keeping the creative workflow in the digital domain, you can benefit from the inherent security features of Adobe Acrobat DC—which let you to control access to and protect your creative IP, maintain the integrity of your work, and safeguard your livelihood.

Let’s explore the halo of security that surrounds the creative workflow in Acrobat DC and Adobe Document Cloud.

1. Preserving asset authenticity

You spend hours, days, weeks, or sometimes even longer nurturing and honing your creative concepts, taking them from ideation to realization. Sharing your brainchild with others is already a nerve-wracking process—the last thing you need to worry about is somebody tampering with or stealing your work. Using Acrobat DC, you can protect the integrity of PDF content and the quality of your output by preventing files from being altered or printed, adding encryption capabilities, and sharing certificates for secure workflows.

The use of Digital IDs helps you to authenticate stakeholders when you send files or collect digital signatures from within Acrobat—for instance, when a client needs to approve a creative concept. You can also rest assured that you’re protected on an application level: Acrobat DC is continuously updated to minimize vulnerabilities and keep sensitive information private, both inside and outside the firewall. 

2. Controlling access

At certain points during the creative workflow, it can feel like there are too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen. Restricting and managing digital access can quickly spiral out of control unless there are safeguards in place. Think about how easy it would be for a client to forward an email with a file attached for review, either to a non-authorized reviewer or to a personal email account. Chances are, this has happened to you on some level, and you didn’t even know it.

The Send and Track feature within Acrobat DC lets you control your work from any device. See who has previewed or downloaded a file and even unshare a file if needed. You can also use the Send for Comments feature to manage the review process entirely within the application, giving you visibility into the actions of your stakeholders while maintaining an efficient creative workflow that also helps keep projects on track. Edit and copy restrictions can also be applied automatically when you redact, password-protect, and save content in Acrobat Pro DC.

3. Signed, sealed, and delivered

We touched on the e-signature capabilities in Acrobat earlier, but these warrant more than just a mere mention. Documents—whether they’re contracts or creative assets—can be sent directly to approvers for digital signature using the Send for Signature feature. This is a legally binding approval, with the entire process tracked and recorded in an audit trail. Naturally, the sensitivity of the documents being sent for signature necessitates strict controls. That’s why we use the same enterprise-class technology behind Adobe Sign to power the Send for Signature functionality in Acrobat DC—whether you’re using Acrobat as part of Document Cloud or not.

Security is a serious matter for creatives. Learn more about the security features and functionalities of Adobe Acrobat and how they can help you protect your creative assets.

Be sure to join us at Adobe MAX in Las Vegas for even more pearls of wisdom about Adobe Acrobat. We’ll be having a couple of sessions on how Creatives can get the most out of Acrobat and Adobe Document Cloud – and details are available here.

Steve Fisher’s Tips for Running a Successful Design and Content Sprint


Creative Cloud

Steve Fisher

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘content is king,’ and it’s especially true for designers who want to build products and services that effectively get the user exactly what they’re looking for with minimal friction. But design and content teams don’t always work in harmony, and Steve Fisher said that can be disastrous. He’s the founder of The Republic of Quality, a UX and content strategy firm with a secret weapon up its sleeve: design and content sprints that bring designers and content strategists together.

At Adobe MAX, Steve will break down his methodology in his workshop Running Your Own Design and Content Sprints. Ahead of that, we asked him to share some of the why and how design and content teams can come together to make great things happen.

What does a design and content sprint look like?

We know design sprints are a really useful tool. They definitely speed up communication, ideation, as well as general understanding for any project at all. One of the things I started to notice, though, with how they were being talked about, is that people weren’t really talking about the content that was involved.

Any good designer knows design is informed by its content, not the other way around. So, with the sprints I’ve been running, we’ve always been taking what I call a content-design approach, or even content modeling, where everything is informed by the actual content we’re going to be working with throughout the project.

How do you start?

We don’t know every piece of content we’ll have in the beginning, but we should be able to identify who we’re working for (who the audience is), what their needs are, and then, if it’s a pre-existing product, we’ll be working with some existing content (that may change over time). We take those, break them down, and try to understand who the users are and what the business needs from them.

From then, we begin to model out an interface, a concept, an idea around what we’re trying to communicate and how we can be successful in meeting the user’s needs. So it’s this really rapid ideation process that, typically for me, lasts between three to five days. Sometimes it’s less days, but never more.

Who should be part of the content and design sprint?

The team makeup matters a lot. In ideal world, you should assemble your sprint team with:

  • A user experience lead (perhaps heading up the project)
  • A content lead (a writer, strategist, or subject matter expert)
  • A tech lead (unless it’s not a tech-related project)
  • A decision maker (who make calls related to budgets)
  • A graphic designer (involve them from the beginning, and not just after the fact)

Everyone in the room should have an equal voice (obviously the decision maker, with their knowledge of budget, has the final say). It’s not always possible to have six different people taking on six different roles in every scenario. Sometimes one person has to perform more than one role. But these types of representations make for a healthy interdisciplinary team within the sprint.

Don’t look at it as bringing different teams together. During sprints, we’re all in it together. The magical part about that is that its kind of like interacting with siblings. You may have a disagreement, but you’ll make it to the other side and your relationship will be stronger. Communication is easier because you’re spending 3-5 days in a room, putting up post-it notes, working out every idea. These sprints also bring teams together, which you can’t accomplish very easily any other way.

How do you make sure your time effectively?

Before we even get rolling on anything, we establish a framework for how we’re going to come to an agreement on things. We’re never looking to compromise in our decision making, we’re looking to agree on everything. It’s not some magical rainbows and hugs agreement; it’s saying we have established the vision and we know the audiences.

After we’ve identified our users and vision, we create a set of guiding design principles (like values, based on those users’ needs).

Finally, we set some high-level goals for the project. They don’t need to be specifically measurable, they really are overall goals; for example, saying ‘hey, we want to improve the customer service response time for 20% in this release.’

We complete these tasks in a cascade. It goes, people first (audience), vision (based on the audience’s needs), design principles (based on that vision), then goals based on all of the above. It can be really tempting to jump to our goals, but you always need to start with the way before you can get to the how.

Once that framework is set, it makes it much easier for everyone involved to make decisions that we can all agree on. It takes opinion and preferences out of the picture and allows us to think outside of ourselves, which the world is sorely in need of now.

And how does the end user benefit from this process?

The team communicates better, together, and they’re able to make better decisions for the user. They’re focusing on their user base throughout the sprint and, ideally, at the end of the sprint they bring in some of the users for testing.

Another approach is to bring in a team member who is part of your user base. You can bring them in for portions of the sprint to help ideate and answer questions about your audience because they are part of that audience. It doesn’t always work, since one person can’t really represent an entire group, but it is useful to have that initial feedback before you go through your first morning of user testing.

Why are you so passionate about running design and content sprints in your work?

I run these on every single project I do, and they always lead to that ‘aha moment’ where the team starts to fire on all cylinders. Communication that would have taken weeks via emails or phone calls starts to happen quickly. That co-presence is needed to get to a certain place.

The best outcomes are often that we walk away with a concept and documented idea we can begin to work on immediately; a point that normally would have taken us weeks to get to.

It can be seen as an expensive process because of how many people are in the room at one time, but really it’s far more expensive to not do this and can result in miscommunication and projects getting really drawn out.

You can learn more about Steve Fisher’s work on his company’s website, and hear more about his approach to design and content sprints during his talk at Adobe MAX.