What’s in Store for the Community Pavilion at MAX


Creative Cloud

Our Community Pavilion at MAX is jam packed with hands-on activities, product experts and artists, art and typography instillations, games, lounges, giveaways of fun stuff from our amazing sponsors, and lounges where you can recharge and take in everything you’ve experienced at the conference.

In fact, there’s so much on the show floor that it’s nearly impossible to cover it all in one blog post. So here are some of the highlights you should take care not to miss at MAX this year:

  • Make it Experience

    • Have a question about any product in Creative Cloud? You’ve come to the right place. This is where you’ll find all of our product experts, and a chance to get hands on with the latest and greatest products and features.
  • Create

    • Visit the Create booth and you’ll become a living work of art. Your face will become a canvas for amazing animations, and you’ll walk away with a video of the experience that you can save and share.

  • Typekit City

    • Check out the live lettering, sticker printing for typographic art, notebook giveaways and work from assorted type houses.
  • National Poster Retrospecticus

    • Back this year by popular demand! Come view over 400 hand-printed posters from 150 designers around the world, in this walk-thru gallery on the floor.

  • Walk of Happiness

    • Adobe Creative Resident Rosa Kammermeier put this project together as part of her residency. Stroll around MAX from the Community Pavilion to the Bash and discover the eight different letterings, designed with love and maybe take some HAPPINESS home with you. Share your pictures. #walkofhappiness
  • Make It Impactful

    • During the Make It Impactful program, 10 diverse and talented artists used Adobe Creative Cloud to make creative work with impact. Interact with their work and add your own impact on the MAX show floor. How will you #MakeItImpactful? www.makeitimpactful.com

  • Sponsor booths

    • T-shirt printing at Real Thread, Poster giveaways at French Paper, creating your own design for an Airstream trailer, the GoPro Big Rig, NVIDIA video technology, Moleskine notebooks, HP, Dell, CDW, Coca-cola, these are just some of our amazing sponsors this year. Find their booths on the Pavilion floor and check out their awesome giveaways and cutting edge technology and design.

Check out the Community Pavilion page to read about all the activations. We’ll see you at MAX!

Driving Alignment Through an Open Creative Process with Dropbox


Creative Cloud

This post was submitted by Dropbox, a 2017 MAX partner. We’d like to thank all our 2017 MAX partners who help make the conference possible.

Today’s creative teams are made up of a fluid workforce: freelancers, vendors, agencies, and cross-functional in-house teams. We’re varied, multidisciplinary, and scattered across continents. And that makes it harder than ever to keep everyone on the same page. At Dropbox, we believe one of the best ways to keep teams in sync and bring ideas to life is through transparency.

In the Dropbox Brand Studio, our teams are made up of graphic designers, web designers, illustrators, producers, strategists, and creative writers. We define the visual identity system and voice for the brand. We produce creative for product launches and marketing campaigns. And we collaborate with product teams to name and add personality to the product.

Ultimately, we help keep people aligned by leading creative processes that unite work between many different teams—Marketing, Product, Communications, Sales—along with our network of agencies, vendors, and freelancers. We use creative strategy and production to build the bridges that connect these teams. These processes help us tell a meaningful story about our company.

The way we work isn’t working

Now that new technology lets us collaborate with people around the world, our teams have never been more distributed. We’re in different departments, working from different offices, across different time zones. This new way of working is especially challenging for those of us in Marketing and Design. We’re working at a breakneck pace, and churning out high volumes of content that needs to break through all of the noise and high filters of audiences today.

Everyone needs space to create their best work, yet we want our collaborators to get involved early on to make sure we’re creating the right thing. We want to show polished and refined work—but people want to be a part of the process. So how do we find a balance?

With so many projects going on at once, between many different departments and teams, we need to make sure that everyone is having the same conversation at the same time. And in the process, we need to build trusted relationships.

Embracing transparency throughout the creative process

As challenging as it can be, the best way to work collaboratively is to embrace transparency. Working transparently makes people more engaged and accountable. It shows people you’re willing to figure out problems with everyone on the team. And it removes ego by encouraging people to work together and share the responsibility of bringing a project to life.

We spend a lot of time thinking about this at Dropbox. Our mission is to simplify the way people work together. We started in 2007 with the idea that life would be a lot better if people could move their stuff into the cloud and access it from anywhere, on any device. Since then, we’ve made major progress. And we’ve discovered that for a lot of our users, sharing and collaborating on Dropbox was even more valuable than providing storage. So we’ve made a commitment to expand our focus from keeping files in sync to keeping teams in sync.

New collaboration tools that unleash your team’s creative energy

Our customers have given us tremendous insights about the challenges of teamwork. We’ve studied what hinders the creative process and examined what highly successful teams do well. And we use this insight not only to build new tools that help teams unleash their creative energy, but to improve how we work together.

It’s still a work in progress, but we’re committed as a company to address the underlying problems designers, writers, artists, and marketers face. To start, we’ve created a culture that embraces transparency and offers a safe place to create, without judgment. And we’ve developed new technologies like Dropbox Paper, that bring focus and flow to your work — facilitating team transparency and driving alignment.

At Adobe MAX, Dropbox’s own Collin Whitehead and Aaron Robbs will share from their experiences and explore these topics during the session, ‘Transparent Teams: Driving Alignment Through an Open Creative Process,’ on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 3:30pm. Don’t miss out on this engaging discussion – register now before the session sells out.

 

Hovering Art Director Social Sweepstakes


Creative Cloud

Share one of the following social posts with your best advice for dealing with creative feedback under pressure for the chance to win a Hovering Art Director talking action figure!

Find inspiration by visiting the It’s Nice That’s article on Advice for Receiving Feedback Under Pressure.

The deadline to participate is Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 5:00pm PST. Winners will be selected at random and notified via social media. All shares must be public in order to be eligible. View complete official rules here: Adobe Stock HAD Social Sweepstakes Rules

Designing Government Services for Everyone: Erica Deahl on The Role UX Plays in Creating Better Services


Creative Cloud

Erica Deahl

When it comes to diversity of workplaces, Erica Deahl has experienced it all. From agencies, to presidential campaigns, to her current job as principal designer at Khan Academy, she believes in the power of good design to change people’s lives for the better. It was this drive that led her to become the lead UX designer on the U.S. Web Design Standards project, creating a library of design guidelines and code to help government developers and designers create trustworthy, accessible, and consistent digital government services.

At Adobe MAX, Erica will share insights into how UX design can revolutionize the way we interact with our governments in her talk, Designing Government Services for Everyone: A United UX for America. In her words, “In order to design a better immigration process, or to help teachers support students at different levels of learning, it’s critical to start by understanding the experience of the people relying on those products and services.” We asked her to share more of her story.

Why was it important to create the U.S. Web Design Standards?

In government, there are designers and developers in hundreds of agencies working to solve problems that are often very similar. Our team’s goal was to make it really easy for them to make good design choices. The U.S. Web Design Standards enable government teams to prototype and ship websites quickly, and they make it easier to share best practices for UX design and accessibility.

As teams across government have adopted the Standards, the sites they’ve shipped are accessible and use consistent UX patterns, which is a huge benefit for the people relying on those services.

What are the key UX design considerations when designing for government services?

In government, it’s mandatory for digital services to be accessible for everyone. Complying with accessibility guidelines is just a starting point–when you’re making design decisions, you have to constantly question whether those decisions will impair someone’s ability to use and understand the service. And you have to validate those choices by testing products with people in a wide range of accessibility contexts.

But accessibility isn’t the only constraint–there are sometimes legal or technical requirements that prevent you from choosing the clearest design direction, so you have to find workarounds that are both clear to users and legally compliant.

How important is consistency across government websites and apps?

People shouldn’t have to understand the complex organizational structure of government in order to benefit from the services it provides. Many government benefits require people to interact with numerous different agencies or departments, making the experience of seeking a benefit frustrating and disorienting. Establishing a consistent user experience throughout that journey makes it easier for people to understand and trust the process, and get to the outcomes they need faster.

Why is it important for you as a UX designer to work on government and public service-related projects?

There’s a huge amount of work we need to do to improve delivery of government digital services. Lots of agencies still rely on legacy systems that don’t work very well, and that means that the millions of people who rely on their services suffer. It also means that there’s a massive opportunity–even incremental design improvements make an enormous impact.

We need designers to help address those problems because designers are trained to learn about, understand, and empathize with the challenges faced within agencies and by the people they serve, and to design solutions.

Designers have an incredible opportunity to make a difference in government, and they don’t have to make a career sacrifice to do that work. Over the past few years, organizations like 18F and USDS have done some amazing work to build talented teams and enable designers to leverage their expertise on problems of a scale and complexity to rival the most exciting private sector opportunities.

To learn more about Erica Deahl and her work creating the U.S. Web Design Standards, check out the case study on her website or catch her talk at Adobe MAX.

Can’t Make it to Adobe MAX in Person? Watch it Live Online.


Creative Cloud

We’ll be live streaming the Keynotes for both days, so if you can’t make it to MAX in person, you can still see the latest releases and updates for Creative Cloud, and hear the inspiring stories from our creative speakers.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18, 9am, PDT
    • Keep your finger on the pulse of the n ewest innovations as we reveal how you can work smarter and faster, all while taking your creative skills in new directions.
  • Thursday, Oct. 19, 10am, PDT
    • Hear their stories firsthand. Our day two keynote speakers will discuss their passions, process and creative journeys:
      • Annie Griffiths, photojournalist
      • Jon Favreau, actor/director
      •  Jonathan Adler, potter/designer
      • Mark Ronson, musician

Register to watch online here, and don’t miss a minute of MAX!

Why All UX Designers Should Be Creating User Journeys, And Here’s How To Make One


Creative Cloud

Good design is all about the user. If designers truly want to create the best products, it’s important for them to see the product from the user’s perspective. That’s where a tool called a user journey comes in. It’s a powerful combination of storytelling and visualization that helps designers identify opportunities to create new and improved experiences for their users. In this article, I’ll introduce a concept of user journey along with some tips and specific examples.

What Is A User Journey?

A user journey is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. Typically, it’s presented as a series of steps in which a person interacts with a product. As opposed to the customer journey, which analyzes the steps before and after using the product, user journey only examines what happens inside the app/website. In context of e-commerce website, for example. user journey can consist of a number of pages and decision points that carry the user from one step to another in attempt to purchase a product.

Internet banking.

What’s Required to Create A User Journey?

The following elements are required to create a user journey:

  • Persona: User journeys are tied back to personas. To create a realistic user journey, it is important to first identify the users and create personas for them. When creating a user journey, it’s recommended to use one persona per journey in order to provide a strong, clear narrative.
  • Goal and Scenario: The exact goal to which the given journey belongs. The scenario presents a situation in which the persona tries to accomplish something. User journey is best for scenarios that describe a sequence of events, like purchasing something.
  • Context: A context is defined by a set of facts that surround a scenario, like the physical environment in which the experience is taking place. Where is the user? What is around them? Are there any other factors which may distract them?

What Does A User Journey Look Like?

A user journey can take a wide variety of forms depending on the context and your business goals. In its most basic form, a user journey is presented as a series of user steps and actions following a timeline skeleton. This kind of layout makes it easier for all team members to understand and follow the narrative.

A simple user journey only reflects one possible path during one scenario:

A simple user journey has one user, one goal, one scenario and one path even when a product/service allows multiple path variations. Image credits: uxstudioteam

A complex user journey can encompass experiences occurring during different times and scenarios:

Complex user journey reflects different users paths on the same flow. Image credits: Nform

While user journey maps can (and should) take a wide variety of forms, certain elements are generally included:

  • A title summarizing the journey (e.g. ‘Purchasing an electronic device in the e-commerce store’)
  • A picture of the persona the journey relates to.
  • A series of steps. Everything real-world users would do as a separate activity counts as a step. Steps should provide a sense of progression (each step should enable the persona to get to the next one).
  • An illustration of what’s happening in the step. This illustration includes touchpoints (times when a persona in the journey actually interacts with a product) and channels (methods of communication, such as the website or mobile app). For example, for the touchpoint ‘pay for product,’ the channels associated with this touchpoint could be ‘pay online’ or ‘pay in person.’
  • The persona’s emotional state at each step. A user journey is the most important tool for designing emotions; at the heart of a user journey is what the user is doing, thinking, and feeling during each step. Are users engaged, frustrated, or confused? Emotional experiences can be supplemented with quotes from your research.

How Does A User Journey Fit Into The UX Design Process?

User journeys are typically created at the beginning of a project — during the product analysis phase, after personas are defined. Along with personas they can be one of the key design deliverables from this phase.

A user journey can be used to demonstrate either current or future user behavior:

  • When a user journey is used to show the current user behavior (the way users currently interact with the product) it should provide a clear view of how easy or difficult it is for a typical user to reach their goal.
  • When a user journey demonstrates the future state of the product (a ‘to-be’ experience), it should highlight any changes to pain points that a future solution will solve.

Why Should Designers Use a User Journey?

A user journey is used for understanding and addressing user needs and pain points. The entire point of the user journey is to understand user behavior, uncover gaps in the user experience, and then take action to optimize the experience.

There are many other benefits for designers when they invest time in user journeys. Properly-created user journeys can help designers better:

  • Communicate design decisions to stakeholders–As a document, a user journey can be used to clearly explain the strengths and weaknesses of the product in terms of UX.
  • Prioritize features–User journeys helps identify possible functionality at a high level. By understanding the key user’s tasks, it’s possible to define functional requirements that will help enable those tasks. This helps product teams scope out pieces of functionality in more detail and speed up the planning of a new version of the product.

On a company level, user journeys can:

  • Shift a company’s view–Since user journeys are shorthand for the overall user experience, it’s possible to leverage them as a supporting component of an experience strategy. Creating a user journey could be the first step in building a solid plan of action to invest in UX and create one shared organization-wide vision.
  • Promote collaboration between different departments–Because a user journey creates a vision of the entire user journey, it becomes a tool for creating cross-departmental conversation and collaboration. User journeys can engage stakeholders from across departments and spur collaborative conversation.

8 Tips for Creating and Using A User Journey

Before Creating A User Journey

1. A User Journey Should Have A Business Goal behind It

Each user journey should always be created to support a known business goal. A user journey that doesn’t align with a business goal won’t result in applicable insight. That’s why identification of the business goal that the user journey will support should be the first step in the process.

2. A User Journey Should Be Based on User Research

The effectiveness and importance of a user journey depends heavily on the quality of insights it provides. User journeys should be built from both qualitative and quantitative findings. The process of creating a user journey has to begin with getting to know users. If designers don’t have enough information to create a good user journey, they should conduct additional journey-based research (such as ethnographic research) to gain insights into the user experience.

When Creating A User Journey

3. Don’t Jump Straight to Visualization

The temptation to create an aesthetic graphic can lead to beautiful yet flawed user journeys. It’s recommended to start with sticky notes on a wall or visualize the path with a simple spreadsheet. It’s important to experiment and not accept the first idea as the best.

4. Don’t Make It Too Complex

While designing user journey it’s easy to get caught up in the multiple routes a user might take. Unfortunately, this often leads to a busy user journey. It’s recommended to start with a simple, linear journey (an ideal way to get the users to the given goal). Also, it’s better to avoid focusing too hard on a series of pages users go through. Instead, review what the users usually do and in what order.

5. More Ideas Lead to Better Design

It’s essential to involve all team members in the process of creating a user journey. The activity of creating a user journey (not the output itself) is the most valuable part of the process, and it’s helpful to have stakeholder participants from many areas of the organization involved in this activity. Mixing people who otherwise never communicate with each other can be extremely valuable, especially in large organizations.

Organize a collaborative workshop or brainstorming session, catch everyone up on the goals of the user journey and guide them through the process of creating the first draft. Image credits: UX Maze

Use Your User Journey

6. Assign Ownership

All too often, areas of negative friction in user journeys exist simply because no internal team or person is responsible for this area. Without ownership, no one has the responsibility or empowerment to change anything. That’s why it’s important to assign ownership for different parts of the journey map (e.g. key touchpoints) to internal departments or directly to responsible individuals.

7. Socialize Stakeholders

Getting stakeholders comfortable with user journeys is critical in moving your organization toward action. Reference your user journey during meetings and conversations to promote a narrative that others believe in and begin to use on a regular basis.

8. Maintain Journeys Over Time

Set a time each quarter or year to evaluate how your current user experience matches your documented user journeys. Consider when you may need to update the journey (such as after a major product release when the behavior of a user may change).

Conclusion

User journeys create a holistic view of user experience and this makes them an essential component in the process of designing a new product or improving the design of an existing one. By leveraging user journeys as a supporting component of an experience strategy it’s possible to keep users at the heart of all design decisions.

Introducing Portfolio’s New Integration With Adobe Lightroom


Creative Cloud

Whether you’re a weekend adventurer or working the red carpet, Adobe Lightroom is a critical tool in every photographer’s kit. Designed with creatives like you in mind, Adobe Portfolio makes showcasing your work effortless. And it just got even better. Now with the Lightroom integration on Adobe Portfolio, you can easily import your Collections and publish your best shots on your customized website in just a few clicks.

Website Pages & Integrations

When you head over to Manage Content on Adobe Portfolio, you’ll notice that the section has been broken into two tabs: Website Pages and Integrations. Website Pages show all of the Galleries and Pages currently created on your Portfolio. Integrations allow you to connect to your Adobe Lightroom Collections and set the gallery where future Behance projects will appear.

Adobe Lightroom Collections on Adobe Portfolio

Portfolio’s new Integration allows you to select any of the Lightroom Collections you’ve created and import the images to a Page on Adobe Portfolio. The entire Collection will be transformed into a Photo Grid within a new Page. You can edit the new Photo Grid to reorder or delete an image. As with every Page, you can add additional text, images, videos, or embedded content.

Behance Projects on Adobe Portfolio

Importing Projects from Behance has never been easier. If you have a Behance account associated with your Adobe ID, you’ll see a new option to set a default import Gallery. Going forward, whenever you create a new Project on Behance, Portfolio will automatically import it as a Page in the gallery you selected.

Integration Badges

To keep track of all of your Pages and their sources, we’ve also added product badges to the Manage Content section. Whenever you import from Adobe Lightroom or Behance, you’ll see a corresponding badge below the Page’s title. This is especially helpful when you want to re-import content you may have updated on Behance or Adobe Lightroom: simply click the gear icon next to the Page title and select the action you’d like to take.

Portfolio continues to make building your own customized creative website easier by leveraging one of the creative world’s most popular applications.

Learn more about our powerful photography-friendly features over at myportfolio.com/photography.

Artist spotlight: Anna McNaught


Creative Cloud

We came across Anna McNaught via #AdobeStockRemix on Instagram and fell in love with her stunning, surreal and sweet compositions. A recent converter to Adobe Stock, we touched base with her to find out more about her journey into the world of digital compositions, her take on stock imagery and where she searches for inspiration.

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

Anna McNaught: I have been surrounded by art my whole life. My grandfather was a published children’s book illustrator and most of my family are artists in some way or another. It was only natural for me to follow in their paths.

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and as much as I wanted to get away, looking back now, I know that it gave me strong roots, a connection to the environment, and a sense of self that I bring forward in my work. Three years ago, I decided to move to LA to pursue a career in fashion photography. I struggled for almost a year looking for steady work and trying to figure out where I belong. Photography took a back seat and I pushed forward with my graphic design career and eventually found a job working as an in-house graphic and web designer. I realized part of me was missing and I bought a new camera and went out and started shooting. A spark went off within me that I thought I had lost. I had so much fun and realized I could combine my photography and my graphic design and create intricate composites that brought to life new lands, dreams, and imaginative ideas. It’s been a little over a year now since I got into this style of editing but it has completely changed my life!

 AS: How would you describe your style?

AM: Surrealism mixed with dream-like fantasy – colorful and happy

AS: Where do you look for when needing a shot of inspiration? 

AM: I find myself on Pinterest and digging through Adobe Stock images. Sometimes just seeing a certain image can get a whole idea scheming up in my head.  Other times, when I feel as though I’ve hit a dead end, I like to disconnect and go camping, hiking, or just head to the beach for a nature re-charge.

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

AM: One of the biggest challenges that I’ve had to overcome in the design industry and just as an artist in general is, self-worth.  I think its easy to compare yourselves to others and their success and wonder if, you’re that good or ever will be that good. I sometimes find myself second guessing my artistic abilities.  I think confidence in your own work comes with practice and experience and I’m learning that more and more each day.

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

AM: I have always said that I think anyone who works with stock for editing purposes should have a basic understanding of photography, how lighting works, and why some photos work together and some don’t. I definitely think that is changing though with the number of digital artists that I see popping up on Instagram. It’s interesting how much artists manipulate stock images to become something completely different. I think our imaginations are fascinating.

AS: What artists and designers should we be following?

AM: My favorite will always be @nois7 and I also love @frvnkyvng. They have both been a huge inspiration to me over the past few years and create images like nothing I’ve ever seen before!

AS: What features did you like the most about using Adobe Stock?

AM: I love the options that are available. The photos are stunning and offer great variety.

One of my favorite features that I saw at Adobe Max, and haven’t had a chance to fully try out yet, is the ability to test a stock image and then with one click, be able to purchase and drop in the photo in the same exact position and sizing as your test image! This saves hours of work time! Also, I’m not even sure if this is out of beta yet but I love the new feature of using boxes to show an idea that you’re searching for, such a dog on right and person on left,  and finding stock that matches it exactly! I mean, how cool is that!?

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

AM: One of my favorite images that I did was a self portrait in Joshua Tree. I think it’s my favorite project because I had the idea in my head, drove to Joshua Tree with my fiancé, and found the perfect spot along the road. I took two photos, one of me in the frame, and one of the background and combined them in Photoshop.  I love it because it was simple and spontaneous but has the most meaning for me.

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

AM: I love listening to Chillstep and Jazz. Two opposite ends of the spectrum! I like Chillstep for when I’m in a “editing hole” where I basically spend hours in Photoshop with no stopping and jazz for when I’m in a “cozy fall day” kind of vibe.

AS: What design trends should we be looking out for in 2018?

AM: I think the overall digital experience will continue to grow more and more. I also think the way we all operate these days is, fast and easy. I see Adobe making many of those adjustments and the software continuing to get more intuitive and faster to use so that our designs and images can expand. We will be able to create without any technical limitations.

For more of Anna’s work, check out her website and find her on Instagram.

 

Putting Personas to Work in UX Design: What They Are and Why They’re Important


Creative Cloud

It’s likely you’ve heard the term persona before, especially if you’ve worked in user experience design. Personas are a commonly used tool in UX design. At their core, personas are about creating products with a specific, not generic, user in mind. The usefulness of personas in defining and designing digital products has become more widely accepted in the last few years. Properly used, this tool is able to supercharge a designer’s work.

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of personas, and how to create one.

What is Persona?

Personas are archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users. Usually, a persona is presented in a one or two-page document (like the one you can see in the example below). Such 1–2-page descriptions include behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and background information, as well as the environment in which a persona operates. Designers usually add a few fictional personal details in a description to make the persona a realistic character (e.g. quotes of real users), as well as context-specific details (for example, for a banking app it makes sense to include a persona’s financial sophistication and major expenses).

Despite a persona being depicted as a specific person, it’s not a real individual; it’s synthesized from the research of many real people. Presented as a document, a persona should clearly communicate and summarize research data. Image credit: xtensio

Why It’s Important?

Deep understanding of a target audience is fundamental to creating exceptional products. Personas help a product team find the answer to one of their most important questions, “Who are we designing for?” By understanding the expectations, concerns and motivations of target users, it’s possible to design a product that will satisfy users needs and therefore be successful.

Here are some of the benefits of using personas in UX design process:

Build Empathy

Empathy is a core value if designers want to make something that is good for the people who are going to use it. Personas help designers to create understanding and empathy with the end users. Thanks to personas designers can:

  • Gain a perspective similar to the user’s. Creating personas can help designers step out of themselves and recognize that different people have different needs and expectations. By thinking about the needs of a fictional persona, designers may be better able to infer what a real person might need.
  • Identify with the user they are designing for. The more designers engage with the persona and see them as ‘real,’ the more likely they will be to consider them during the design process and want to create the best product for them.

Personas empower the product team to build empathy toward the user. By thinking about the needs of a fictional persona, designers may be able to better infer what a real person might need.

Provide Direction For Making Design Decisions

Personas help designers shape product strategy. A deep understanding of user behavior and needs makes it possible to define who a product is being created for and what is necessary or unnecessary for them from a user-centered point of view. This allows product teams to prioritize feature requests (for example, features can be prioritized based on how well they address the needs of a primary persona). They can also help settle arguments around design decisions – instead of saying, “I think the ‘Send’ button should be bigger in our email app,” a designer might say, “Since our primary persona, Carolyn, is always on the go she needs bigger tap targets in the app to be able to send the email without eye strain.”

Personas also help prevent common design pitfalls:

  • Self-referential design. This happens when designers design as if they are making the product only for themselves, when in fact the target audience is quite unlike them.
  • Elastic user. An elastic user is a generic user which means different things to different people. Designing for an “elastic user” happens when product decisions are made by different stakeholders who may define the ‘user’ according to their convenience.

It’s worth mentioning that although personas can help designers prioritize the features, they can’t be used as the only tool for prioritization; the needs and goals of the business itself should be also considered. Both the needs of the business and users should be balanced to create a harmonious solution.

Communicate Research Findings

Most designers work in multidisciplinary teams which have team members with varying expertise, experience, and points of view. All team members should be on the same page in terms of design decisions. Personas encapsulate the most critical information about users in a way that all team members and stakeholders can understand and relate to.

Characteristics of a Good Persona

While it’s easy to select a set of user characteristics and call it a persona, it’s hard to create personas that are truly effective design and communication tools.

Here are a few characteristics of a good persona:

  1. Personas reflect real user patterns, not different user roles. Personas aren’t a fictional guesses at what a target user thinks. Every aspect of a persona’s description should be tied back to real data (observed and researched). Personas aren’t a reflection of roles within a system.
  2. A persona focuses on the current state (how users interact with a product), not the future (how users will interact with a product).
  3. A persona is context-specific (it’s focused on the behaviors and goals related to the specific domain of a product).

When Personas Are Created in Design Process

The research that goes into forming personas usually happens early in the design process. In the Design Thinking process, designers often start creating personas during the second phase, the Define phase. Like most design elements, personas can be developed iteratively. Personas will be used during all later phases of a design process to informing design decisions made by the team.

Image credit: NNGroup

5 Steps To Creating a Persona

Personas can be created in a myriad of ways — it all depends on  budget, type of a project and the type of data designers are able to collect. While detailed step-by-step instructions on how to create a persona are beyond the scope of this article, it’s still possible to provide a general flow on how to do it:

1. Collect The Information About Your Users

The first step is to conduct user research to understand the target audience’s mindsets, motivations, and behaviors. The most accurate personas are based on actual field research — they are distilled from in-depth user interviews and observation data of real users. It’s essential to collect as much information and knowledge about users as possible by interviewing and/or observing a sufficient number of people who represent a target audience. The more a researcher observes and captures during these interviews, the more realistic the persona will be.

In a case when it’s impossible to interview/observe real individuals — time and money don’t allow for the user research needed to define accurate personas — it’s still possible to create a persona based on what the team knows about users. Customer support logs, web analytics, competitive intelligence can be used to create a persona. A persona created using this approach is known as a provisional persona, and is a great placeholder until real personas are created.

During this step it is very important to avoid generating stereotypical users (users that don’t have any relation to the actual user’s reality). Completely fictional stories of imaginary people based on little or no research bring no value for the design process and in fact, can bring harm. Furthermore, poorly constructed personas can easily undermine the credibility of this technique.

2. Identify Behavioral Patterns From Research Data

The next step is analyzing research findings. The goal during this step is to find patterns in user research data that make it possible to group similar people together into types of users. There’s a simple strategy suggested by Kim Goodwin:

  • Once research is finished, list all of the behavioral variables (i.e. ways in which users behavior differed).
  • Map each interviewee (or real-life user attributes) against the appropriate set of variables.
  • Identify trends (find a set of people clustering across six or eight variables). These grouping trends will then form the basis of each persona.

3. Create Personas and Prioritize Them

Next, it’s important to assemble a persona’s descriptions around behavioral patterns. The researcher’s task here is to describe each persona in such way that expresses enough understanding and empathy to understand the users. During this step, it’s best to avoid the temptation to add a lot of personal details: one or two bits of personality can bring a persona to life, but too many details will be distracting and will make the persona less credible as an analytical tool. Don Norman put it this way: “[personas] only need to be realistic, not real, not necessarily even accurate (as long as they accurately characterize the user base).”

Quite often, researchers create more than one persona for each product. Most interactive products have multiple audience segments which are why it seems logical to construct multiple personas. However, with too many personas, the process can get out of hand. The personas can simply blur together. That’s why during this step it’s also important to minimize the number of personas, so it’s possible to focus design and this may guarantee better success. While there’s no magic number, as a rule of thumb, three or four personas are enough for most projects.

Tip: If you have more than one persona it’s good to define the primary persona (the most relevant) and follow the rule “design for the primary – accommodate the secondary.” Design decisions should be made with the primary persona in mind and then tested (through a thought experiment) against the secondary personas.

4. Find Scenario(s) Of Interaction And Create Persona Documentation

Personas have no value in and of themselves. They become valuable only when they tied up to a scenario. A scenario is an imaged situation that describes how a persona would interact with a product in a particular context to achieve its end goal(s). Scenarios help designers understand the main user flows – by pairing the personas with the scenarios, designers gather requirements, and from those requirements, they create design solutions. Scenarios should be written from the persona’s perspective, usually at a high level, and articulate use cases that will likely happen.

Personas, end goals and scenarios relate to one another. Image credit: Smashing Magazine

Generally, when creating a document you should include the following information:

  • Persona name
  • Photo
  • Demographics (gender, age, location, marital status, family)
  • Goals and needs
  • Frustrations (or “pain points”)
  • Behaviors
  • Bits of personality (e.g. a quote or slogan that captures the personality)

A great tool which will help you during this step is the Persona Creation and Usage Toolkit developed by George Olsen. George has developed a comprehensive list of all the factors that can be considered for persona description.

Tip: Avoid using real names or details of research participants or people you know. This can bias the objectivity of your personas (you’ll focus on design for this person, rather than a group of people with similar characteristics).

5. Share Your Findings And Obtain Acceptance From the Team

Socializing personas among stakeholders is critical in moving the design team toward action. All team members and stakeholders should have a positive association with personas and see the value in them. As people become familiar with the personas, they start talking about them as if they were actual people. A well-constructed persona almost becomes another member of the team.

Tip: Usually, having posters, cards, action figures, and other real, physical objects is more effective to communicate personas and helps keep them top of mind versus having a digital version, like a doc file or PowerPoint presentation.

It’s essential to share personas and scenarios with other team members and stakeholders. Image credits: UX Booth

Conclusion

Personas are powerful tools. Done properly personas make the design process at hand less complex — they guide the ideation processes and help designers to achieve the goal of creating a good UX for the target users. Thanks to personas, designers are able to work in a more mindful way by keeping the real user at the heart of everything they do.

Aspirational Demo: Kyle Lambert Tells Us a Fairy Tale In Just One Image


Creative Cloud

This month, we’re thinking about images that tell stories, so we gave movie poster artist Kyle Lambert an epic challenge: invent an entire fairy tale world and build it out of Adobe Stock. Then, we checked in with him about the process behind his amazing composition, “Once Upon a Time.”

Getting Inspired

Kyle started by thinking about the magic and fantasy at the heart of children’s stories, and from there, he began to sketch out the themes. “I liked the idea of a ballerina-like princess character at the center of the story, so I sketched a levitating figure in the center of the composition,” says Kyle. “Then I began thinking about the world that the girl would be exploring and started to think of interesting story points such as pirates and an evil horseman.”

Putting the Pieces Together

Kyle doesn’t often use stock images, so one of his goals for this project was to figure out (and then show the world), how an artist can combine lots of stock assets to build something completely new.

“I started by searching for images that most closely resembled the ideas in my drawing. However, on many occasions I found amazing images that were better or added something new to my original concept, so I allowed the piece to keep evolving. For example, my original idea was to include a pirate ship on the right hand side of the piece. After searching for relevant images, I added a crocodile, volcano, and a temple island.”

For Kyle, the most satisfying part of this project was finding and combining the images to create his floating princess. He first had to search for a set of photos that could fit together in just the right way to create an anatomically correct figure in a pose something like his original idea. Once he landed on a series of images of the same model, he had the foundation for his character. From there, he added in elements from a photo of an elegant ballerina.

The final, detail-packed composition is built from 50 stock images in 335 layers. “The key to staying organized on a project like this,” explains Kyle, “is to label everything clearly and use layer groups to hide elements that you are not currently working on.”

Building Something Completely New From Stock

For artists creating a complicated composition with stock, Kyle’s advice is to start out with a clear idea of what you want to find. Otherwise, the options can be overwhelming. But keep an open mind once you start searching, since you might stumble on a new, useful possibility you hadn’t considered when you first imagined the piece.

Kyle also gave us his thoughts on getting started using Adobe Stock: “There were a lot of features that helped me get familiar with a different workflow. I found it very useful to create a series of libraries on the Adobe Stock website to organize all of the photos that I was considering using. This allowed me to browse and collect possibilities for each element and review the best options all together. I also liked how easy it was to download small previews of the images I had found to make sure they would work in the art.”

Find Out More About Telling Digital Stories

For more on Kyle, read about his work on movie posters, and his artist spotlight. And if you’d like some extra inspiration for storytelling in the digital world, get tips from Adobe’s experts and find out how short filmmakers build a narrative in just a few seconds or minutes. And don’t miss our curated gallery of Adobe Stock images that tell stories.