Keep up with Hovering Art Directors – Adobe shows you how


Creative Cloud

If you’re a creative professional, chances are you’ve worked with a Hovering Art Director. You know the type, the micro-manager who stands over your shoulder, providing unsolicited and nonsensical feedback, like “let’s try this sunset as a sunrise.” Fortunately, there’s a solution that can help you keep up and keep your sanity – Adobe Stock.

In a new spot by Adobe and agency mcgarrybowen Amsterdam, we watch as a designer heroically manages the extravagant (albeit hilarious) demands of his art director – thanks to an assist from Adobe Stock. With only an hour to spare, he creates original artwork for a meeting with a fictional client, the subtly named WolfBear ginger beer.

The video is part of Adobe’s new Hovering Art Director global campaign that spotlights the benefits of the integration between Creative Cloud and Adobe Stock. According to a recent report, creatives can see a 10x productivity gain with Adobe Stock in Photoshop. So many steps are eliminated that the process of licensing an image goes from nearly 3 minutes to 16 seconds*.

“We really pushed the content to the maximum, looking for all sorts of images to make this crazy composition. We discovered firsthand how much quality and diverse content Adobe Stock offers. You just chuck a search term into the side panel and seconds later there it is in your comp,” says mcgarrybowen Amsterdam Creative Director Daniël Sytsma of his experience working with Adobe Stock to create campaign assets.

The WolfBear artwork features over 100 individual Adobe Stock images, including a baby bear, a wolf, an astronaut, a tornado, and a particularly epic volcanic explosion.

You can learn how to recreate the WolfBear artwork during a free webinar on March 30 at 10am PST. Register here to attend the live one-hour masterclass on compositing and retouching led by art director Michael James Phillips from mcgarrybowen Amsterdam and designer Alessandro Pisano from Magic Group Media. Plus, we’ll have some fun surprises for our audience.

In addition to the full video, you can also watch some of our favorite outtakes from the shoot on the Hovering Art Director site. Just make sure no one’s lingering behind you before you turn on the volume.

* “Adobe Stock: Boosting Design Efficiency Through Integration,” Pfeiffer Report, Pfeiffer Consulting, 2016.

The Constraints of Stationery — An Opportunity To Be Unique


Creative Cloud

Imagine getting a letter from your lawyer, accountant, or doctor. The information it contains is important, but the logo is pixelated or too small. In trying to create something quickly, the firm you’re working with ended up with a poorly executed design. The presentation of their brand makes you wonder whether this is the right group to trust with your business, your money, or your health.

Sending letterhead or handing out business cards that contain unprofessional or boring designs can kill the credibility of your brand. Nearly every business needs to create standard stationery items — from business cards to letterhead to envelopes. Understanding how to correctly produce stationery materials can help set your business apart from the pack.

Creating within strict constraints.

Stationery is pretty standard — and many times it is designed without much imagination. There are stringent constraints on the space you have and the information that needs to be included. However, if you look at some of the really inventive, creative solutions out there, you can see that constraints are a great starting point for creativity. If you first understand the set parameters, then, instead of focusing on the limitations, move forward by exploring all the options in areas that do allow for creativity. Behance is a great place to get inspiration.

The Green Panther organic restaurant sought a rebrand that communicated a sustainable way of living in today’s urban reality and conveyed the feeling of a jungle without using the color green. These limitations inspired a unique design that uses recycled materials and is carried through all aspects of the restaurant’s brand. By SU PARK.

Principles and best practices for designing company stationery.

When crafting stationery, consider the following questions during your design process.

  • What is your brand goal? Think of your stationery in a wider context — as an extension of your brand. It’s important not to downplay these seemingly simple designs and how they impact your customers’ perception of your brand. It’s important not to rush through this design process but to approach it with the same creativity you would your logo.

    Design your stationery pieces to work together for your overall brand. By FOREIGN POLICY.

  • What is your brand personality? Make sure you know how to use stationery as a part of a holistic brand image. A young, hip brand is going to have a different design approach to stationary than a more established company. And companies within an industry will want to find unique ways to communicate how they are different from their competitors. As a result, you need to consider not just your goals for the stationery design, but also the personality of your brand as a whole.

    Express your brand personality in your stationery design. By WILL CUNDALL.

  • How can you stand out? There are times when clever design tricks are appropriate for a brand, however, it’s also possible to stand out without being gimmicky. Small details, like the quality or texture of the paper you’re working with or the type of printing (letterpress, foil-stamping, etc.), can provide ways to differentiate yourself from the pack. We have fairly preconceived notions of  what a business card looks like, so even minor changes to that standard can help catch your customer’s eye. For instance, an atypical size for business cards — like post cards — can increase your chance of getting noticed. Think about special finishes, printing on something other than paper or use die cuts to either add aesthetic or utility to your card.

    Use a heavy cotton paper and print techniques like debossing to make the right impression. By CONCREATE STUDIO.

  • How does digital play a role in stationery? Business cards and stationery are one of the few remaining physical brand communications you hand clients in an increasingly digital world. Tactile experiences are becoming increasingly rare today. So while you should give attention to your brand’s digital appearance, utilize your stationery’s unique tactile nature to stand out by giving attention to such small details as how a business card feels in their hand.

Some rules still apply.

While there is plenty of room for creativity in these designs, it’s important to note that some rules do still apply. For instance:

  • Font size. Though having less design real estate can mean needing to use smaller fonts, it’s typically not recommended to use below a 7-point font for business cards and 9- or 10-point font size for letterhead. The focus should be on legibility.
  • Hierarchy. The most important information still should be most prominent in your design. In most business cards and stationery, this hierarchy looks something like your company logo followed by a contact’s name, title, and contact information. Using grids with typical layouts for stationery can help achieve this.
  • Resolution. For the best reproduction when printing, use images that have a resolution of at least 300 dpi.
  • Color. Design your files in CMYK for full color printing, unless you’re working with less than four colors or exclusively with spot colors.
  • Size: The typical business card size is 3.5 x 2 inches, with an extra ⅛-inch margin for any design elements or background that will “bleed” or extend beyond the finished size.
  • Font Selection: Limit your font usage to one or two font families and be sure they are visually compatible with each other. When using more than one font, be certain there is enough contrast between them — that they aren’t too similar. For example, pairing a serif font with a sans serif usually works well, while pairing two serif fonts usually won’t.

These guidelines are not hard and fast. Playing with viewers’ expectations of what a “stock” business card looks like can be a good opportunity for creativity, however be sure your design is legible and meets your practical business goals.

How to get started.

Designing business cards and stationery that help you wow customers can set you apart from competitors. Start with InDesign stationery tutorials, and then jumpstart your design with a template from Adobe Stock you can easily customize for your own design. Additional tutorials show you how to add fonts from Typekit — where you’ll have access to over 4,000 typefaces — or how to save your project and project elements to Creative Cloud Libraries.

Revamping your stationery can be a wonderful differentiator in a crowded marketplace. Get creative in the areas where you can and put your best foot forward with stationery that represents your very own brand personality.

Women in UX: Meet the Diversity Advocate at the Frontline of UX


Creative Cloud

Introducing Women in UX, a new series from Adobe XD profiling women in UX and the issues and subjects that matter to them most. To kick things off, we’re chatting with Fiona Yeung, a designer at Google who says Silicon Valley has turned her into an advocate for diversity.

Fiona Yeung, a designer on Google’s Material Design team, found herself on NBC news after Google employees in the Bay Area staged a rally against the immigration controversy which occurred in late January. The rally was not an official Google event, instead it was organized by one of Google’s engineers, and yet it spread up the coastline like wildfire, stretching from Google offices in Mountain View all the way up to Seattle.

It was just another way for Yeung to express her commitment to advocating for diversity, whether that takes place on the front lines of a rally or the front end of a user experience.

“I felt like it was important to show support for those who are being affected,” Yeung told us in the days following the rally. “Especially since I’m not even American.”

Yeung hails from from Toronto, Canada, but currently calls California home. She’s also young, female and of Chinese-Taiwanese descent. Her advocacy efforts came as a result of living in Silicon Valley and experiencing the diversity struggle firsthand, something she says she took for granted in her native land.

“Being from Canada, I feel like diversity is one of our greatest strengths. It’s always been really special to be different, to be true to your own race or ethnicity. I think we really value that in Canada,” she said before noting that Silicon Valley is also quite special. “In California, there’s a lot of diversity in general. It is different than a lot of the other states.”

The rally united her with her coworkers while also mirroring her passion for igniting like-minded communities. When she’s not working on Material Design, Google’s in-house design language and set of guidelines that has been adopted by third party companies including Airbnb and Asana, she is the community manager of the Bay Area chapter of XX+UX. This community initiative’s mission is to help foster relationships and growth for women who work in tech and UX. It is not your standard women’s group.

Men Welcome at Women’s UX Meetups

XX+UX has five chapters including the Bay Area, Seattle, New York, Bangalore and Tel Aviv. And while there are many groups dedicated to this cause, what makes XX+UX unique is that everyone is welcome—regardless of gender.

Yes, that means men are not only welcome, but encouraged to attend these meet-ups and participate in the discussions.

“We don’t want to exclude anybody from our events. It is primarily to promote and support women and those who identify as women in UX, but without men or without opposite perspectives, we aren’t actually able to voice our concerns,” Yeung said. “If it’s only people who are dealing with the problem together, then it’s harder to actually get our voices heard.”

Yeung admits that it is still rare for men to come to the events, but has noticed that they are open to it.

“The ones who do come, generally it’s eye opening for them to be able to hear our perspective and to be more aware of what’s going on,” she said. “There is a diversity problem in race and minorities. There is a diversity problem in gender. The first step for me was awareness, which is why I think it is really important to be able to let men into our events because that provides awareness for them.”

The Silicon Lining

Being a woman and/or a minority in UX no doubt has its challenges, but Yeung says it has its advantages too. She has noticed that companies, especially in the valley, are becoming more committed to representing diversity in their organizations. In her experience, there are men listening.

“I think the great part is that if you are proactive, which I try to be, it is easier to make an impact or to voice your opinion and be heard, actually,” she said. “It’s kind of the opposite of why it sucks to be a woman sometimes. Because you are one of the few females, you do get heard more because they are concerned about expressing diversity issues, so they try extra hard to support you and give you the time that you need to express yourself.”

The rallying call of women joining together has not only helped further this, but has created a pedestal from which women can build confidence to speak up while empowering one another to succeed in what is still largely a male-dominated industry.

“Now there are all these really great communities for women who are super supportive, from all different levels, backgrounds and companies. It opens up your world a bit here,” she said.

A New Age Problem

Yeung’s position is unique in that she has worked hard and accomplished so much at such a young age. She moved to the Bay area from Canada shortly after graduating university to accept a job offer at Google, and she started that job just days after her 22nd birthday.

Now, one year later, it is not necessarily her gender, race or citizenship that makes her feel disadvantaged at times, but her age.

“The interesting thing for me that I struggle with is more of an age gap problem. I don’t know if that’s a real problem, but because I am a recent grad and everyone I work with is pretty senior, it’s been more of a struggle for me than the gender gap,” she said.

Although she says she knows these insecurities are internal and that no one explicitly has made her feel this way, the self-doubt has, at times, followed her.

“Imposter syndrome definitely was something I struggled with because I felt so new, inexperienced and young, whereas everyone has so much more experience than me. They have 10 or 20 years of extra experience, so why are they going to listen to what I have to say?”

Because, Miss Yeung, the world needs voices like yours. The world needs perspectives like yours, those of someone who works in the heart of the industry and experiences the challenges that tend to come along for the ride. The world needs people to rally together, to bring these issues to light, to support others who are going through similar struggles, whether those struggles are related to gender, race, age, or any other barriers.

Because, your voice matters.

Psych 201: More Lessons with YouTube’s Head of UX Research Sciences Rob Youmans


Creative Cloud

UX researcher and cognitive psychologist Rob Youmans is back with us to discuss three more cognitive psychology concepts and how designers can use them to create better, more intuitive experiences for their users. This time around we’re focusing on the power of memory.

How often do you take your user’s working memory into consideration when you’re designing something?

If you’re digging deep into your brain to try to remember what working memory is, guess what? You’re using your working memory right now to try to retrieve files from your long-term memory.

And if that makes no sense to you, have no fear. Rob Youmans is here to help.

The cognitive psychologist and former professor also wears the rather large hat of YouTube’s Head of UX Research Sciences. He joins us for a second time to discuss the role understanding cognitive psychology concepts can play in helping UX designers optimize user experiences.

Read: Psych 101 with YouTube’s Heard of UX Research Sciences Rob Youmans

Understanding Working Memory

We use our working memories constantly. It is how we remember things that are happening right now. Psychologists, Youmans tells me, like to compare it to computers. Think of your working memory as your ram and your long-term memory (the stuff you have stored away) as your hard-drive.

“They’re different types of memory and they have different purposes,” he said.

“Working memory holds four plus or minus two items. It lasts at maximum, and this is if you’re really trying, 20 seconds. It’s this incredibly fragile memory system. It doesn’t hold much and it doesn’t last long, but it’s robust because it’s how we process information in real time in the moment.”

What he means by that is some users have the capacity to remember six items, while others may remember only two. Basically, it’s easy for users to forget things.

One solution to this problem is for designers to create situations that ask users to engage their minds through effortful processing. This asks users to think about things or engage with content in such a manner that it converts these working memories into long-term memories. When things are filed into long-term memory, it helps to make processes more automatic and intuitive.

“The most frequent violations of this are when you’re asking someone to do something in a series and they’re expected to remember everything in the series,” Youmans said. “The main thing for designers is to simply be aware of [working memory] so when you’re asking a user to hold information in mind, being mindful that it’s a very precious commodity and it can’t hold that much and it doesn’t last that long leads to better designs.”

Primacy and Recency

This is related to another cognitive psychology concept called primacy and recency. Youmans gives the example of teaching a lecture. Students are more likely to remember items at the beginning of the lecture (primacy) and the end of the lecture (recency) while forgetting much of the content in the middle.

The same is often true in user experiences.

“When it comes to design, the place that I see primacy and recency in particular is in terms of onboarding,” Youmans said. “When you start to learn about a new product there’s often a tutorial, wizard, instructions or something. It’s wise for designers to consider primacy and recency in this context because you’re going to want to put the most important information first or last if you’re hoping that someone is going to remember them later as they use your product or system.”

Or, as we say in journalism, if it bleeds it leads.

Another reason to take this into consideration is because when users forget things it can bring unnecessary tension or frustration to an experience, casting a negative shadow over the experience itself. Whether the user understands the logic behind this concept is not relevant. It often instead makes the user feel inadequate or causes them to question the validity of the experience. Talk about a lose-lose situation.

Design Fixation

Working memory can also inhibit designers in a number of ways. One particular example is called design fixation and its when the designer himself becomes so fixated on a design solution he is unable to see any other option even when other options or methods might be better.

“Say I showed you a picture of a bicycle and I said, I want you to come up with a different design, something better. There’s a real tendency from just seeing that previous example for people to fixate and copy that previous bicycle. That’s called design fixation,” Youmans said. “It’s a weird phenomenon because in extreme cases you can show people negative examples and say here’s what you shouldn’t design, here’s a terrible website, never design something like this, and then ask designers to go off and when they come back, often times, there’s detectable elements of that previous website. It’s called fixation because they fixate on these previous designs.”.

Youmans has conducted extensive research on this topic and compiled it into a research paper called, The effects of physical prototyping and group work on the reduction of design fixation.

He wanted to know if there was a way for designers to reduce design fixation and conducted two different experiments: one that involved group work and one that involved physical prototyping.

“What’s to me the most interesting about this is that the designers seem unaware that they’re doing it and when you point it out to them they’re embarrassed. They’re like; I can’t believe I did that. It seems to be this sort of unconscious bias towards copying previous designs,” Youmans said.

What he found was that there was a tendency even for groups to fixate. “If I have three designers and I show all three of them a previous example, they’re, I don’t want to say equally likely to fixate, but there was no evidence it was any different than a designer working on their own.”

What he found instead is that when it came to prototyping the design, whether with pen and paper or physical materials, designers tended to fixate less.

“What isn’t clear about that is why that reduced fixation and for that I still don’t have a crystal clear answer. My theory was that there was something about actually building out a product or a prototype that caused people to realize oh shoot, this is a lot like the previous example,” Youmans said.

Incidentally, he also said this provides another argument as to why prototyping is such an important part of the design process.

The Einstellung Effect

Lastly, design fixation is closely related to another theory called the Einstellung effect. This is when people become so fixated on a particular method of doing something that it becomes automatic and so they continue doing things this way even when a better solution becomes apparent.

When Abraham Luchins was researching this effect in 1942, he would tell study participants, “Don’t be blind.”

“When he did that the numbers dramatically reduced in terms of the number of people who were fixated on the old problem set,” Youmans said. “What you can draw from that is that once you’re aware that these things are a human tendency, you’re not blind to that.”

So designers, remember (pun intended) to keep an open mind (another pun intended) when designing user experiences. Our minds play a powerful role not only in how we experience things, but also in how we create them.

UXperts Weigh In: Designs We Love, March Edition


Creative Cloud

The beauty of web and app design in the 21st century is it’s easy to share our creations and discoveries with the world! Development teams are making incredible things every day, so we set out to find ‘UXperts’ in all corners of the globe and asked them to share the web and app designs they’re loving right now. Here they are for our March edition.

Joshua Oluwagbemiga, Lead Designer at Amplify Agency (Lagos, Nigeria)

Pick: Yahoo News Digest

Yahoo News Digest is mobile app that helps users get up to speed with important news around the world with updates that come twice a day. The part that impresses me the most is how the news content is summarized and how content from many sources, even related tweets on the issue, are organized in one place. The reader is quickly informed on what is going on around the internet.

The app uniquely merges a solid user experience with a modern interface where users can quickly switch between digests and also keep track if a digest is read or not. It’s a lightweight and convenient app that saves time and provides knowledge is a clean environment.

Isabelle Hamlin, Senior Experience Designer at Adobe (Stuttgart, Germany)

Pick: Detour

Detour is an app for self-guided immersive walking tours. They are focusing on great speakers, telling compelling stories about the neighborhood that get you excited about the historical background. It’s like listening to a great audiobook while you are on the road, putting you in someone else’s shoes.

Detour is location-aware and can guide you without you needing to check your phone for directions. It means less screen time to get in the way of the Audio experience.

I also like the clean, modern, and intuitive UI of the app. It’s easy to use, offers thoughtful information, and covers basic walking tour details.

Detour is filling a gap between paper travel guides and historical audio books. There are only 10 tours worldwide available now for purchase, but I am pretty confident that there will be more of them in near future.

Alex G. Knight, UX Designer at AGK Designs (Tokyo, Japan)

Pick: Square Cash

I am really digging Square Cash’s experience at the moment. It’s always super focused on what the user is doing. Bright, bold and obvious actions are front and center helping to lead users wherever they want to go.

The login/signup flow is really fantastic as well. I am seeing more and more apps move away from passwords and offering other options instead; Square Cash uses a six digit code sent to the email or phone number provided. This removes the need to remember multiple different passwords and accounts. It also lowers the barrier of entry to the app and allows the user to get straight in before having to invest too much time. This is awesome to build trust with the users first and only requires more input when the user is ready to open up more features.

The experience also extends consistently across the web and even allows users to be paid from people that have haven’t signed up for the service. They only have to enter a payment source for a one-time transaction, giving potential new users a taste of how convenient the service is before needing to invest.

Jessie Li, UI/UX Designer at PricewaterhouseCoopersSDC (Shanghai, China)

Pick: codeschool.com

For me, a great design helps users to meet their needs, solve their problems, and makes them feel good. Code School is a great example of motivating users to learn coding and hit their goals.

  • “You are the hero” – Code School has used the storytelling strategy to design the whole learning experience as a game experience. The user as a learner is also a hero in this ‘story.’ They are motivated to complete various levels and collect different badges along the learning path. These rewards make the feeling of ‘hero; even stronger for users.
  • Engage users, learning by working – To give learners work, to let them control and see the differences they’ve made is a great way of engagement. The practice section not only make the learning more effective, it also helps the users to build their sense of achievement.
  • Easy to follow – All the courses and content in Code School are organized into different learning paths or projects. Instead of looking for the content by themselves, the users can simply follow the path step by step to go through all the information. The short videos are easy for learners to follow and focus. The dashboard also helps the users check their process and achievements, and that makes their life much easier.

What websites are you loving right now? Let us know in the comments!

Celebrating Wildlife with 500px for Adobe Stock


Creative Cloud

Photography has always played a significant role in conservation efforts. Photos and footage make wildlife accessible and relatable to people around the world, especially to those who may never see an elephant or a humpback whale in person in their lifetime.

In honor of World Wildlife Day on March 3rd, we spoke with some of the wildlife photographers whose work is available through the 500px collection on Adobe Stock about their experiences and tips for creating engaging and memorable images of animals.

PIETER RAS / 500PX / ADOBE STOCK

“With certain species facing extinction, conservation and awareness are more important than ever, and some of our talented wildlife photographers are contributing to those efforts by documenting animals in their natural environments,” shares Paul Friesen, Director of Content at 500px.

Capturing these moments is no easy task. “We have immense admiration for nature and wildlife photographers,” adds Paul. “The sheer patience and perseverance it takes is remarkable and cannot to be forgotten when looking through a photographer’s collection.”

YVES ADAMS / 500PX / ADOBE STOCK

Equally important is the photographer’s ability to connect with nature and all its elements. Wildlife photographer Pieter Ras says, “Understanding animal behavior is critical in planning your shoot and getting the magic moment.”

Underwater photographer Andrey Narchuk agrees: “It is important to find common ground – an understanding – with the animals, and when you feel nature, it gives you the best shots.” As you can imagine, it is a difficult skill to master, and one that can only be acquired through time and experience.

ANDREY NARCHUK / 500PX / ADOBE STOCK

Wildlife and landscape photographer Mariusz Potocki is particularly drawn to the Antarctic and sub Antarctic regions, where the flora and fauna remain largely untouched by humans. “The animals are, for the most part, not afraid of people,” says Mariusz. Oftentimes, they are inquisitive and approach the photographers, and for Mariusz, this mutual curiosity creates a sense of closeness and makes for unique wildlife portraits.

MARIUSZ POTOCKI / 500PX / ADOBE STOCK

Though we may think of wildlife as exotic animals in faraway lands, Quebec based photographer Daniel Parent reminds us that the best place to shoot wildlife is wherever you happen to be. “There is wildlife everywhere,” he explains, even if you live in an urban environment. The closer you are to home, the more time and access you have, and that makes it easier to capture just the right moment.

DANIEL PARENT / 500PX / ADOBE STOCK

Perhaps one of the greatest delights and challenges of wildlife photography comes from the unpredictability of nature. Even with the meticulous research, preparation and knowledge of animal behaviors, there’s no telling what you’ll catch on camera. “Keep an open mind,” advises Pieter. “Nature is unpredictable so always be ready and be prepared to do things that will give you the edge.”

ZHENG ZHANG / 500PX / ADOBE STOCK

See more spectacular wildlife photos from 500px on Adobe Stock.

Design Around the World: What Cuba’s Restricted Internet Can Teach Us About UX


Creative Cloud

User experience design in a digital context is an arguably unknown discipline in Cuba where the Internet, much like its capital city Havana, seems frozen in time. Internet access is limited, government monitored, and controlled. Connection speeds are low and costs are high. What can digital designers learn about UX from a country where UX as we know it doesn’t really exist?

Turns out, quite a lot. Here are five lessons UX designers can take away from users where basic experiences are often the best experiences.

1) People are willing to pay for experiences they want bad enough

In Cuba, the Internet is a luxury not a commodity. An estimated five percent of Cubans have Internet access at home, a fraction of the population that consists mostly of doctors, academics and intellectuals who use the Internet with permission from the government, according to the UK-based Independent.

Anyone else wishing to access the Internet must do so at one of the country’s 237 state-owned WiFi hot spots at an hourly cost equal to at least five percent of the average salary. For many residents the cost of accessing the Internet is out of the question. According to the Havana Times, salaries average just $20 USD a month.

Yet despite the high costs of accessing the Internet, hotspots are evident by the crowds of (typically young) Cubans who hover around the public WiFi areas. Ding, a company that provides Internet top-up services to developing countries including Cuba, found that 70 percent of WiFi users use these hotspots every week, and 39 percent use them every day. This shows that users are not only willing to pay for experiences they way, they’re willing to do it frequently.

2) People are willing to wait for experiences they want bad enough

According to Ding, 54 per cent of Cuban Internet users travel at least 5 km (3.1 miles) to access these hotspots. This indicates that users are not only willing to pay for experiences they want, they’re willing to endure lengthy travel times to get them. Once they get there, users often have to wait long periods of time for their turn to access the Internet.

People gather around lunchtime in the Villa Panamericana neighborhood near Cojimar try to connect at a new Wi-Fi hotspot. Image via NBC News

The Internet in general may not seem comparable to whatever product or service you’re designing, but the lesson here is that if the service is vital enough, your users will wait for it.

3) People will pay more for convenience

Cubans who don’t want to wait, or who don’t want to provide their personal information (in order to use the Internet at one of these hotspots users must provide their identification), have taken to what has been compared to an Internet Black Market. Internet access is provided on cards that users scratch to reveal access codes. Users can also purchase these cards much like an illegal drug, from a dealer at a cost much higher than market value.

These dealers are opportunists, selling the cards at an even higher markup to tourists who don’t know any better. This indicates that if there are barriers to an experience, someone else will find a way to provide it—and profit off it. This means that even if you’re not the one creating the experience, users will pay more to access the experience if it’s convenient. For experiences this vital, users will find a way to get it.

This speaks to various tiers of users. When designing an experience, keeping in mind the various types of users who access an experience is a way to not only ensure that you remain in control of the experience, but that you’re providing the best experience possible for the most users.

4) Community is key

Of all the social media services out there, 95 percent of Cuban social media users are active on Facebook. Nothing else compares. Only 8 percent use Twitter, 16 percent use WhatsApp, and another 8 use Instagram, while other popular platforms like YouTube remain inaccessible in the country.

Users go where community goes. With the majority of Cuban social media users on Facebook, it’s been difficult for other social media networks to have an impact. The lesson here is in community and relationships. While the UX of Facebook is more complex than the other social media services, the opportunity for connection it offers surpasses the simplicity of the experience. The value is not always in the ease of the experience so much as it is in what the experience offers.

5) Every second counts

Bear in mind, however, that Facebook is an exception to the rule. According to Alexa rankings, top sites in Cuba include Google.com, Google.com.cu, revolico.com (Cuba’s Craigslist) and cubadebate.cu (a site with a tagline of Cuban Journalists Against Terrorism in the Media).

Each of these sites has a simple (at times outdated) design that loads quickly and navigates simply, just like other popular sites in Cuba including Wikipedia.org and WordPress.com. When every second of an experience counts, a flashy design can be a costly distraction.

For Cubans, access to the experience is just as important as the experience itself. The interface must remain simple in order to maximize the amount of time a user spends with that experience, especially when they’re spending a significant portion of their earnings on it.

Sometimes going back to basics is the best way to give users what they need. There is no point in designing something that stands in the way of the actual experience. Many users don’t have the time, or the money, for that.

This piece is the first in a series that looks at design trends and user habits from around the world and explores what UX designers can learn from them.

The Power of Conservation Photography


Creative Cloud

“Some of my earliest and most precious memories are of sitting on the shoulders of my father as we tracked white rhino, Cape buffalo and Sable antelope herds in the Matopas National Park (in what is now Zimbabwe),” shares Peter Chadwick, award-winning conservation photographer and Adobe Stock Premium Contributor. By the time he was seven, Peter was determined to become a game ranger, and for the last thirty years, he has dedicated his life to photographing and protecting animals around the world.

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

Peter’s love for photography also comes from his father, who introduced him to the darkroom. His first camera was the classic Brownie, and Peter attributes his eye for photography to the manual elements of the film medium. “Those early days were critical in teaching me what was necessary to make a good photo in terms of composition and lighting,” he explains.

Peter’s conservation work has taken him across Africa and around the world, from the semi-deserts of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to the rugged Drakensberg Mountains. He has had incredible opportunities to observe animals and marine life up close, witnessing first hand the plight of these animals. African Grey Parrot populations have plunged 90%, largely due to illegal pet trade. Rhinos are being poached for their horns, which are now worth more than gold on the black market. Mining and logging are threatening lands that are home to hundreds of species of animals, birds and insects. “Our biggest challenge,” explains Peter, “is to convince and remind people that we are totally dependent on the health of the planet.”

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

Photography has been an invaluable tool for spreading this message. “Iconic images have the power to change the world by changing the perceptions and understanding of the viewer,” says Peter. Unlike the written word, photographs transcend the boundaries of language and can elicit emotional responses without any explanation.

In the digital age, we are inundated by images and content on every device and platform. Truly captivating photographs have the ability to cut through this clutter and engage with the viewer to create a meaningful moment.

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

“Through platforms like Adobe, we have the opportunity to give those images to a larger audience and effect change.” Peter hopes that conservation photographers can influence change the same way that war photographers have in the past, by raising public awareness and ultimately shaping government policies.

In recent years, Peter has shifted his focus to the work of rangers. He considers them the frontline and true heroes of the conservation movement, and strives to bring more attention to the threats and challenges the rangers face every day.

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

Many of us think of conservation as something that concerns wild animals in faraway lands and performed by people like the rangers in Peter’s images. At its core, conservation is much simpler and closer to home. Peter advises that even basic acts like recycling and conserving energy go a long way to help the earth, and encourages everyone to support their local wildlife society.

PETER / ADOBE STOCK

See more images from Peter on Adobe Stock and find out more about how photographs can make a difference through the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Happy Birthday, Illustrator!


Creative Cloud

1987 ushered in a new era of digital publishing and design. A then little-known design tool called Adobe Illustrator transformed graphic design by letting creatives create and publish vector artwork. Today, more than 180 million graphics are created with Illustrator CC on a monthly basis. Its output is everywhere, from the billboards you pass on the highway to the packages you see at the grocery. But Illustrator CC wouldn’t be here today, celebrating its 30th birthday, if it weren’t for our users.

 

“Everybody said, ‘You’re going to ruin good design because now anybody can do it.’ But with Illustrator, the cream rises to the top,” says John Warnock, Adobe co-founder. “The creativity is in the design. The creativity is the person who uses the tools.”

Thirty years ago, Illustrator gave creatives the freedom to create digital artwork that is precise, perfect, and adjustable. Over the years, it has continued to make graphic design accessible to all. The introduction of Artboards allowed creatives the flexibility to adapt designs to different sizes for print or screen. Live Corners and Live Shapes gave creatives the ability to manipulate width, height, and corner radius properties directly on the objects themselves.

Adobe Illustrator toolbars from 1987 to present

However, some of the most impactful changes over the years have been under the hood to fulfill our users’ requests. The 64-bit migration and GPU rendering, for example, increased the speed of rendering for users almost tenfold.

The entire history of Illustrator has been defined by our users. Through our forums, events, and focus groups, we obsess over the next thing our users need to create their best work. Here’s what we’ve heard:

The future is multi-channel, multi-screen
Consumers today access content across different devices, mediums, and content platforms. Users have asked for an efficient way create assets across this diverse spectrum. So last year, we built Export for Screens, allowing creatives to save and export graphics in multiple sizes and formats with just one step.

Empowering web and experiential design
Our users need tools to design not only for print, but also for a web that is increasingly multi-screen. The ability to scale web images across multiple devices is critical. That’s why Adobe became an early developer of Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG) for the web.

More recently, we’ve heard from users about the need to quickly create and prototype digital experiences. This is what’s driving us to build Adobe XD, a tool in which you can design, prototype, and share. All in one app. 

Collaboration and mobility in the cloud
And lastly, our users have expressed a few pain points in their workflows. Sharing and maintaining common assets like graphics, colors, character styles, and style guides would often involve long email chains or constant version control on a network drive. Over the years, our team has dedicated significant resources and time to thoughtfully build out Illustrator’s integration with the Creative Cloud. Today, creatives using Illustrator CC have an unparalleled ability to share, edit, and collaborate with their teams through the Creative Cloud.

Illustrator has come a long way since it made its public debut 30 years ago. It continues to be perfected based on your feedback. What do you hope to see next in Illustrator CC?

Tell us here.

 

The Morality of Manipulation: Nir Eyal on Creating Habit-Forming Products That Do Good


Creative Cloud

You could call Nir Eyal a ‘master of manipulation’ – after many successful years in the gaming and advertising industries, he’s become an expert in designing products that keep users coming back for more (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and that mobile game you just can’t put down). In his book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, he gives designers practical advice for building a successful product in the digital age. He’s also an advocate for responsible design; passionate that designers use their powers for good and create products that do no harm.

We’ll hear more from Nir in the next few weeks about great product design, but first we asked him to share his advice on how designers can make highly-successful products that manipulate users, morally.

How can a designer judge if their product is ‘moral’ in how it manipulates the user?

There’s actually a two part test I give product designers to determine what’s worthy of their human capital when it comes to building persuasive products. The question isn’t ‘CAN I build these products?’ the question is, ‘SHOULD I?’

  • STEP 1 is look at yourself in the mirror and ask, ‘is the thing that I’m working on materially improving people’s lives?’
  • STEP 2 is asking yourself ‘am I the user?’ The answer should be yes. You should be the user of your own product so if there are any negative effects to the product you’re building, you’re going to know it.

This has nothing to do with ‘can I make money?’ It’s only for people who want to give themselves some kind of moral test. If you can pass this test, I think you should go for it. That’s when you’ll be able to improve people’s lives through the thoughtful use of habit-forming products.

And if you pass the test, what kind of power do products have to ‘do good?’

The world would be a much better place if we made exercise, managing your money, interacting with people you love, and being more productive at work, as engaging as using Facebook, Twitter, etc.

That will be the future. More companies will realize to build good, profitable products you need to understand what makes people click, and tick.

Do designers have a responsibility to stop their products from doing harm (for example, through overuse)?

Any sufficiently good product, used by a sufficiently large amount of people, will addict someone. That means that anything that is good and popular enough, someone will get unhealthily addicted to.

For the first time in history, companies like social gaming studies or social networks know how much people are using their products. The silver lining of all this data is that these companies can and should do something to help.

I want companies who see people using their products unhealthily to reach out to them and say, ‘We see that you’re using this product in a way that may indicate a problem. Can we help you dial it back?’ That’s pretty simple to do, all companies need to do is have the will to do it.

There’s a big reason I didn’t call my book how to build ‘addictive’ products. A ‘habit’ is an impulsive human behavior with little or no conscious thought. You have good habits and bad habits, but an addiction is a consistent, compulsive dependency that harms the user. There are ‘healthy habits,’ but there’s no such thing as a ‘healthy addiction.’

Does the user have a responsibility here too?

That’s part of why I wrote my book. I want people to also realize, ‘Hey, that’s happening to me, I’m being manipulated.’ I think that’s a good thing. Whenever there’s technological innovation, there’s always bad that comes with the good.

Now people are beginning to realize they love these technologies, but not all the time. I think that’s the process I want to accelerate: I want people to stop and think when do these products serve me, and when am I just serving the product.

Why has this become such a big passion for you?

I’m fascinated with how things influence us. I think technology in a positive light has the possibility to do tremendous good. I think we see the world getting better and better because of technology. I’m very hopeful.

When change occurs at a pace we can keep up with, we can self-correct. Humans are very adaptable, and that’s what we’re seeing now. We’re assessing what’s happening and figuring out the bad. We are clearly a ‘guinea pig’ generation, figuring how technology fits in our lives, but we’re going to figure it out very quickly…until the next big technological innovation!

For more information on Nir Eyal and his book ‘Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products,’ check out his website.