From Web Design to UX Design: Understanding and Making the Transition


Creative Cloud

You’ve spent your career building websites and now you’re looking for something more. For many, the idea of moving from web design to a career in user experience (UX) design makes sense. The two utilize many of the same qualities and skills, but they focus on different aspects of the design experience.

With a growing demand for UX designers, the field is ripe with opportunities for those who are looking for a new challenge. If you’re considering a career change from web design to UX design, this article will go deeper into what UX design is, how it compares to web design, and what you need to do to make the leap into this exciting new career.

Defining Experience Design

User experience design factors usability, research, and interactivity into the look and feel of a product. Its greatest concern is how a user interacts with the experience to achieve the desired results as effortlessly and seamlessly as possible. It’s a research-driven practice that combines elements of psychology, graphic design, web design, market and user research, interface design, and other disciplines to create well-rounded, data-backed products that function effectively and feel good to use.

This summary hardly scratches the surface of all UX design entails. For a deeper primer on UX, check out this article on What You Should Know About User Experience.

Similarities Between Web and UX Design

Aesthetics: Web designers take more of a brand’s aesthetic into consideration, balancing colors, typography and other visual content to present information in a cohesive way. UX designers are also concerned with the aesthetically pleasing, but place greater emphasis on ensuring they’re functional too.

Front-end focus: Web designers deal more with front-end coding and using programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to create visual components, while UX designers will use prototyping software like Adobe XD to map out experiences.

Problem-solving: Designers use design thinking, listening skills and creative problem solving to explore problems, find solutions, iterate and improve on an ongoing basis.

Communication and collaboration: Designers must communicate effectively about design while collaborating with others to bring projects to life. Whether you’re working with an external client or internal stakeholder, learning to communicate your ideas clearly is critical in getting them off the ground.

Differences between Web and UX design

More than just web: UX design transcends the screen and considers the experience beyond digital. It encompasses the user journey and the various emotions that correspond with this while exploring the relationship between the physical and digital and the impact this has on a user’s experience.

User-focused: Where web design is brand-focused, UX design is user-focused. A pillar of UX design is user research and usability testing, ongoing initiatives that are used to validate UX design solutions and inspire rapid iteration. It’s not just about what you’re designing, but who you are designing for.

Empathy: Having empathy for users is universally regarded as an innate part of a UX designer’s role. If you can’t put yourself in your user’s shoes, then how can you expect your experience to help them? Crucial to this is the development of user personas. These personas give UX designers a framework for understanding who their users actually are.

Prototypes: Wireframes and prototyping are big parts of a UX designer’s process. This phase helps to understand the problem on a deeper level while testing ideas and solutions before building the product out. While web designers may also do mock-ups, prototypes are more involved.

Level of coding expertise: Understanding HTML, CSS and certain programming languages may be an imperative part of web design, but depending on the company, they’re not always the responsibility of UX designers. Having a basic understanding of code is usually expected but expert-level isn’t always required.

Less traditional: UX designers come from a variety of backgrounds including web design, web development, graphic design, architecture, psychology, marketing and more. Check out this piece on The Many Paths to UX to explore further.

Moving From Web Design to UX Design

Web designers have a leg up when it comes to landing a job in UX because you already understand many of the fundamental elements of design and design thinking.

However, UX is its own beast and it doesn’t hurt to further develop your understanding of UX as well as your UX skills before you pursue new opportunities. The following tips can help make a smoother transition from web design to UX.

Start with the Fundamentals

Familiarize yourself with the basics of user experience design and begin to understand how it evolved over time. These resources are a great place to start. Not only will they provide you with some background info on the discipline, but you’ll start to understand additional similarities and differences between the two, including where your current skills stack up and where you have opportunities to improve your skills.

Enhance Your Skills

Once you’ve figured out which skills could use more work, start looking into opportunities to enhance your learning. Consider attending meetups or taking courses online, reaching out to current UX designers in your network, or perhaps begin tinkering with different programs and mapping out ideas. Also, take this as an opportunity to understand the strengths or your current skills. How could they apply to a career in UX?

For those looking for a more formal education, check out Boot Camp or On Campus? Where to Study UX to discover many of the options that are available.

Build a Portfolio

Time to get to work. Start building a portfolio to show potential employers what you’ve got to offer. Draw inspiration from these 10 Inspiring UX Portfolios and check out this piece on Getting Noticed: 10 Tips From Creatives on Finding an Audience For Your Work.

Design Something

If building your portfolio didn’t give you enough real experience, consider looking for a freelance project to kick things off. If you’ve never worked freelance before, don’t worry. This piece entitled Imposter Syndrome, and Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Start A Freelance UX Design Career has some valuable tips that also apply to your first freelance project.

Career Resources

Finally, it’s time to start applying. These articles will help set you up for success with tips on how to land your first UX job and insightful career advice from current UX professionals.

Switching your focus from web design to UX design doesn’t have to be scary. There is a plethora of information available out there and the world is ripe with opportunities to build your UX design skills.

If this struck a chord with you, why not give it a shot! Companies are looking for UX designers that have a keen eye for design, are proponents of functionality, and possess a passion for creating amazing experiences.

What to Do About Trends?


Creative Cloud

This month, as we write about young artists in limbo, we wondered how creatives think about one of the biggest forces for change in the industry: visual trends. For more, we checked in with a few of our favorite artists.

Designer, coach, and senior worldwide Creative Cloud evangelist for Adobe, Paul Trani, told us it’s all about deciding where you want to be when the wave hits: “As a designer we have two choices when it comes to design trends. Either make a living riding out the current wave, or look at the evolution of new trends and start the wave ourselves.”

Jump In If You’re Inspired

Jenue, a Spanish artist and art director who makes playful images for editorials, music, and advertisements, told us he’s always up for finding new ways to produce images, whether it’s combining computer graphics and the real world, or mixing textures and elements in new ways.

When it comes to trends, he lets happiness be his guide. “I am not sure what exactly is going to be trendy, but definitely you should look at any trend that inspires your mind and brings you excitement enough to create just for the sake of it and makes your life happier,” says Jenue.

Dream Come True by Jenue

Getting Your Work Out There
Ryogo Toyoda is a Tokyo-based 3D artist and motion designer. In his work, he embraces vibrant color and draws inspiration from science fiction and 1980s video games. And he’s already at the forefront of the 3D trend.

When he looks at how other artist approach fast-moving trends, Ryogo notes that it’s all about getting the work out there, even though this might mean they’re putting less time in on individual pieces. “Everyone posts their work more frequently. The pace and amount of time everyone takes to create piece is much quicker.”

3D by Ryogo Toyoda

Let Them Watch, and Stay True to What you Love
Musketon is a Belgium-based graphic designer with a love of detailed visual illustrations. On trends, he has mixed feelings. We him asked which trends to watch for this year: “It’s not really a design trend, but I think designing live is going to be big. It’s actually happening right now. I’ve started live streaming my screen while I’m working and I noticed people watching how I create my illustrations for hours and hours,” he says.

For what’s coming up next, he told us, “Animation and motion. Oh and gradients. With trends, it’s most important to stay true to what you like doing the most.”

Vector sketches by Musketon

Our Month in Limbo

For more thoughts on being an artist in limbo, read about young creatives in a world that’s changing fast, find out how two artists are balancing different design tools, and check out our gallery of images in limbo from Adobe Stock.

Header image by MarioAV

The Next Level User Experience of Tesla’s Car Dashboard


Creative Cloud

With the release of the Model S in 2012, Tesla made an incredibly significant impact on the automotive industry. The Model S changed our perception of electrics vehicle, going from something that belongs exclusively in movies about the future to something that can actually be used in our daily life.The user experience of the Tesla Model S is vastly different from gas-powered vehicles and the differences go beyond the fact that the car’s motor is electric. While it’s possible to speak about many of the remarkable UX aspects of this car, for the purpose of this article I’ll focus on the Model S’s dashboard control experience.

First Impressions

When you approach a Tesla with a key fob in hand, you’ll notice that door handles extend automatically. This gentle and warm invitation creates a good first-impression even before you get inside the vehicle.

When you approach Tesla with a key fob in hand, a door handle slides out to greet you.

The car is automatically on when you get in, and as soon as you sit in the driver’s seat and you’ll immediately notice it: a centerpiece of the interior, a striking 17” LCD portrait-oriented touchscreen display. At first glance, it feels out of place. As drivers, we’re used to widescreen displays in modern cars, but Tesla’s console looks like an oversized tablet incorporated into the panel. This feeling goes away as soon as you start playing with it. The display controls most of the car’s functions, from opening the panoramic roof to customizing the automatic climate control and changing the radio station. The beauty of the interaction is that it all happens with a swipe or a touch.

The giant touch screen in the centre of the car controls everything from the air-conditioning and navigation system to car’s steering, suspension, and brake regeneration settings.

Feature Discoverability

Discoverability, in the context of product and interface design, is the degree of ease with which the user can find all the elements and features of a new system when they first interact with it. In an attempt to understand new concepts, our brain subconsciously compares them to things it already knows. When you spend a few minutes interacting with Tesla’s basic controls and settings it becomes clear that Tesla’s Interface Design team didn’t try to reinvent the way we interact with car systems. They successfully married the familiar with the new. Take a look at climate control settings, for instance. It feels intuitive and most car owners will understand how to use it right from the start.

Key UI controls and elements will be familiar for the most drives.

The Use Of Visual Metaphors

The Model S dashboard system is full of visual metaphors that make it easier for first-time users to understand how the interface works. One of my favorite examples is the sunroof control. When you open the Controls screen you can see a top-down view of the car that shows the current position of the sunroof. You can open the roof by swiping down on the toggle, and the moment you’ve changed its position you notice an animation on the screen that shows how sunroof is moving.

Control screen displays several instances of the vehicle making clear to the user exactly which controls they are manipulating. Image credits: kenken830

Personalization

Modern vehicles incorporate many aspects of personalization. One of the most well-known examples is memorized seat position. But Tesla moved further in this direction by making it possible to create a profile for each driver. A driver can customize the positioning of their seat, steering wheel, mirrors, suspension, braking, and many other features. The car profile also stores radio presets and phone preferences. This creates a unique feeling that the vehicle becomes an extension of a driver.

The software adapts to each driver’s preferences and configuration.

Design For Context

It can be said that good design is all about understanding the context of each user scenario and presenting the most relevant and useful options for that context. Tesla knows that and constantly tries to adapt to the context of use.One of the features designed for context of use is called HomeLink. It’s a programmable garage door or gate opener. Gate openers are a pretty standard feature for the car industry and a lot of vehicles incorporate them, but Tesla is a step ahead with this feature. Instead of just having a position 1, 2, 3 to open different gates or garage doors, you can create a HomeLink entry, give it a name, program your garage, and when you save it the car will automatically create a GPS fence for it. The next time you enter your home’s geo-location, you’ll see a menu item which enables you to open the garage.A similar feature exists for the air suspension system. After you’ve adjusted the air suspension a few times for the same geolocation (e.g. part of the roadway), the next time you’re in the same area Tesla will automatically ask you whether you like to adjust your air suspension.These seem like small details, but they become a pleasure to use over time. As Charles Eames once said: “The details are not the details. They make the design.”

HomeLink has a small detail that a traditional garage door opener couldn’t do.

Constantly Improving Interface

The real innovation of Tesla’s console design lies in its fluidity. While a vast majority of modern car dashboards are full of physical buttons that will never change, Tesla has a fully upgradeable dash. The design can be easily changed in software updates, which are pushed to vehicles. This is an incredible feature as a vehicle will continue to improve over the time. The potential for upgrades is only limited by the vehicle’s hardware.

Same as with our Apple iOS, Tesla’s operating system gets frequent wireless updates. This makes it possible to update the styles and optimize interactions.

Lack Of Tactility

Despite a lot of advantages, Tesla’s dashboard has one major downside–a lack of tactile input on the touchscreen display. A lot of drivers use haptic feedback to understand which button they are pressing. These tactile inputs make it easier to control the settings without taking your eyes off the road. Once a driver is familiar with the layout, muscle memory makes it easy to reach out to a button, change the setting, and feel an input. The lack of tactile input on Tesla’s display makes it next to impossible to do so without taking your eyes off the road, and this may lead to a potentially dangerous situation on the road. Fortunately, you won’t really need to interact with a display all that often while driving, since most of the things a driver needs to access are either available on the steering wheel or in the instrument cluster. The Model S also has voice control that is activated by a button on the steering wheel.

Since there is no haptic feedback, the driver has to look at the screen to know which button she is pressing.

Conclusion

By any measure, the Tesla Model S is a truly remarkable automobile. Just like the first iPhone revolutionized the way we think about our mobile phones today, Tesla’s cars are revolutionizing the way we think about automobiles now and into the near future.

Netflix Series Mindhunter Brings Filmmaking Savvy to Episodic TV


Creative Cloud

David Fincher is known for directing many successful films, including Gone Girl, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, as well as the Netflix hit series House of Cards. With each new project, he mesmerizes audiences with his unique storytelling and visual style. His latest project, the 10-episode Netflix series Mindhunter, is no exception.

One of the keys to David Fincher’s success is a talented post-production team that shares his work ethic, passion for filmmaking, and willingness to push boundaries. Peter Mavromates has served as a producer and post-production supervisor on multiple Fincher projects, while Editors Kirk Baxter and Tyler Nelson, along with Assistant Editor Billy Peake and In-house VFX Compositor Christopher Doulgeris, are all veterans on the team.

After developing and refining its post-production workflow on other projects, the team pushed it even further on Mindhunter, a series that follows a group of FBI agents in the 1970s who set out to uncover the psychology behind serial killers. The underlying obsession of FBI agents to uncover the makings of a murderer bears a striking resemblance to the editorial team’s preoccupation with achieving filmmaking perfection.

“As editors, we are very similar to the FBI characters,” says Byron Smith, one of the editors. “We are like investigators obsessing over footage to bring out the best in every detail to make each shot as enriched as possible.”

This work ethic trickles down from David himself. “Working with David is great because he’s extremely detail-oriented and he understands how visual effects work,” explains Christopher Doulgeris. “When he gives you a production note, it’s a note that is truly informed.”

Fincher shot the entire 10-hours of content in 6K, which presented the team with both new challenges and opportunities. The team used automated scripting in Adobe Premiere Pro to transform dailies from the set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania into fully prepped dailies projects overnight for the editors in Los Angeles, California.

“David could see selects and assemblies the day after shooting, helping him quickly identify what was working and what wasn’t,” says Billy Peake. “If a scene was shot over two days, we had the dailies from the first day organized and ready on the second day to help him set up the next part of the scene.”

Shooting in 6K for a 5K extraction also gave David and his post-production team the freedom and room to reframe shots as needed. This approach enables them to move a shot left, right, up, or down in post-production without destroying the original framing or impacting the intent of the DP.

“Rather than punching in and losing content, we can fine-tune the way a scene looks or the way two shots play together while remaining faithful to the original shot,” says Billy.

As editors were cutting scenes, if they decided that the rhythm of the dialog between actors should fall into a different cadence they used split-screening. Making a cut down the middle of a shot let them speed up or slow down the timing of the dialog between actors.

The team also stabilized shots to smooth out the motion and create a unique visual tone. While some basic compositions were achieved in Premiere Pro, the team enhanced approximately 90% of shots with Adobe After Effects, with assistant editors using Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects to create the temporary offline VFX.

With this project, the team challenged themselves by adding color correction to their post-production pipeline to give the series its unique periodic finish. The colorist added artificial lens distortion, pulling corners of the image in to create a warped, anamorphic squeeze and adding distortion and chromatic aberration to give the illusion that it was shot with vintage lenses.

“We try to do something new and different every time we work with David,” says Tyler Nelson. “Cutting rooms these days try to make an offline edit look as close to the finished product as possible by integrating visual effects, sound, and color into what is ultimately in the hands of the editor.”

By bringing VFX in-house, and even creating digital intermediates using turnovers from Premiere Pro, the team minimized its reliance on outside agencies. Not only did this give them more control over the final content, but it also aligned with their goal of speeding up production. Once editorial turned over a visual effect shot to Christopher, he could do his work, render it, and deliver it back to editorial within a few hours, versus a couple of days if it had been sent to an external vendor.

“I was able to work on many different shots at the same time and easily go back and forth between them, which is important for continuity as well as productivity,” says Christopher. “It’s helpful for all of us to be using the same tools. It’s like we’re all speaking the same language.”

Having everything needed for production under the same roof also has other advantages. “It’s great to have a compositor right down the hall to bounce ideas off of, especially when we’re working within a tight timeline,” says Tyler. “I could ask Christopher for his opinion, and know with confidence that any edit I made wouldn’t drastically impact someone else’s job downstream.”

The team’s meticulous work ethic, combined with Adobe’s industry-leading editing and visual effects tools, are sure to come through in the final product. Season one of Mindhunter released on Netflix on October 13, 2017.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud pro video tools

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Meet the UX Designers Jessica Moon and Claude Piché


Creative Cloud

From sunny San Diego, designers Jessica Moon and Claude Piché anticipate issues and solve problems around the way you interact with everyday tech. “Remember the last time you had an app that you were really annoyed with? Our job is to figure out why it annoyed you, and then create a better design solution that will make you happier,” Moon says. The pair are part of the team at Telepathy, an experience design agency, and they recently presented a series of cool projects at AdobeLive.

Here, they share stories about the early days of Photoshop, the importance of a good attitude, and a custom playlist to get in the zone.

What drew you to UX/UI design, and how did you get your start?

Claude: When I was 13 I started to play with Photoshop, making rap CD covers for friends and selling them for $5. I loved it. After high school, I took a graphic design program in Ottawa and afterward, I just chose to continue doing it. Eventually, I had to choose between print and web graphic design; it was one of the big pivots of my life, but I decided to go with web because I feel the future is there.

Jessica: Since I was old enough to draw, I loved illustrating. In high school, someone introduced me to Photoshop, where I learned how to vector illustrations, and eventually digitally paint them; with those skills, I was even able to make a little side cash spinning up logo or business card designs for people every now and then. I went to college for something completely different–sociology–because at the time the field of UX wasn’t even on my radar (nor most folks’, let alone the education scene); but I graduated right out of the recession, so I couldn’t find a job in the field. As I was trying to figure out what to do next, I came across a random flyer for design classes and thought I could polish my side-job skills making graphics. As it happened, one of my instructors hired me as a mobile UI designer, and since then I’ve been happily living out a career in the UX industry.

How do you get into the mindset of your users, and/or potential users?

C + J: By talking to them. This simple action allows you to learn so much. Asking questions, really listening, and intently observing is how you can achieve deep empathy. As a bonus, when you talk with real people and get to understand their frustrations as well as their joys, you end up really starting to feel like you’re on a mission for them, which can really energize as well as focus you. It’s immensely fun!

Let’s look at one of your current projects. What was your process like creating Nite Lite–an app you designed on the spot at AdobeLive–and how did Adobe XD help you make it happen?

On the first day of Adobe Live, we wanted to do something that would satisfy a few concepts:

  1. Create a cool new technology (via a connected home app);
  2. That showed the process of design from idea to testable prototype;
  3. And allowed each of us to use XD in our own styles and habits;
  4. While incorporating an element of live audience participation.

LiteNite is a “skill test” we send out to potential applicants, and touched on the first two criteria. Rather than build one app together, we thought it’d be fun to do a live ‘design battle,’ where each of us worked on it in our own way.

We each sketched out some flows and concepts, brought them into XD and started refining from there. Along the way, we’d pull in AdobeLive viewers by asking them to provide feedback that we’d integrate that on the spot–including the awesome logo that was provided by a community member! As the design got closer to higher fidelity, we were able to add transitions and start bringing it to life.

Watch Jessica and Claude design and prototype Lite Nite on AdobeLive.

The thing that makes XD really shine is its ability to support you through design thinking on a tight timeline. It allowed us to easily toggle between design and prototype mode, which made the whole “create and validate” process seem like one blended effort; and since LiteNite is a mobile app, we were able to use XD mobile app to have Michael, the AdobeLive host, test it as a user on the spot in the stream. We even posted the final prototypes via web links and had the community click through each concept and vote on the one they liked the most. It was a real design battle but both of us came out even in the votes, so you could say we both won that day.

What is the most challenging part of being a UX/UI designer? Most fun?

C+J: Finding the balance between what businesses and clients need, what users need, and the overall overlap between the two can be difficult; translating those ideas into actual workable concepts is incredibly challenging, but also rewarding. There’s always an internal struggle–fighting people’s instincts, assumptions, aesthetics, and taste, while trying to keep decision-making as objective as possible–and collaboration can be tough with clients and team members who don’t fully understand the impact that design can have on a user’s experience. But when you show your clients a concept and they say it’s exactly what they wanted, that’s magic.

Keeping up to date and staying fresh makes the job really fun and refreshing. One of the most exciting things in agency life is the variety of industries and diversity of people you’re exposed to. It’s really just a cool, exciting career overall, and unique in a way—there aren’t many designers in the world, especially compared to other professions.

What excites you most about the future of UX/UI design—both in terms of creating it, and engaging with it?

C + J: A lot has changed in the past two decades. Right now we live in a world that’s entirely centered around technology, and we’re in a profession so closely linked to defining that technology, and pushing it forward, and anticipating what’s next. It’s exciting to know that there’s always some evolution, some greater thing on the horizon that will completely shift our daily lives–hopefully for the better–and it’s doubly exciting to know that we’re makers of that world, and that we can have a direct impact. No matter where it goes–whether AI or more advanced technology redefine the future we live in–it’s rewarding knowing we’re always going to be there trying to make things human for humans.

What bit(s) of wisdom can you share with creative folks who are interested in becoming UX/UI designers?

C: From the start: You’re not an artist. Let your ego go. You’re not your work and your work is not you. No matter how long you’ve been a designer, always approach what you do as if you are a beginner, with a beginner’s attitude. Your attitude is bigger than your talent; it’s more impactful than your talent. You can get far in life if you have an amazing attitude and work ethic. With every project, try to get better. Stay aware of new stuff. Don’t be a d*ck.

J: Be a lifelong student. Always look forward and push yourself to grow. Always stay humble, and to cultivate that curiosity and awe that comes with being amazed by what the world has to offer you. Surround yourself with smart people with good attitudes and good perspectives–individuals who embody what you would like to become. Find mentors and like-minded professional friends; join UX communities; introduce yourself to those who you might be too scared to shake hands with; and contribute to design networks.

Whose UX/UI work do you look at and go: “WOW”?

C: Everything that Intercom does is pretty good.

J: Lately, it’s been anything related to the connected home; Zero UI, bringing different software together and seeing it come to life, literally, in your home.

Best tunes for getting into a creative flow?

C + J: We put together this “In the Zone” playlist to share with Adobe readers.

Fave follows:

Instagram: @land_boys; @underbelly; @nasa; @mikemonteiro; @counterprintbooks; @visualgraphc; @unsplash; @swissposters; @katro; @larsmullerbooks

Podcast: Design Details; Let’s Make Mistakes

For design/industry news and updates: Medium! Julie Zhou; John Saito; Indi Young; IDEO; TED Talks; Muzli; Design at IBM; Jared M. Spool; Daniel Burka

Follow Claude Piché on: LinkedIn; Instagram

Follow Jessica Moon on: LinkedIn; Instagram; Twitter

**Hey designers: For more insights into the whos, whats, whys, and hows of UX design, sign up for Adobe’s experience design newsletter!

 

Ask A UXpert: What Part Of Your Design Process Do You Never Skip and Why?


Creative Cloud

Every designer has a process—a unique go-to method for bringing ideas to life. Sometimes these methods shapeshift and change with each project, but almost everyone has at least one thing that’s crucial to their creative process.

We asked four UX designers what part of their design process they never skip and why it’s so important to them. From digging deep into discovery to taking inspiration breaks, here’s what they had to say.

The Discovery Phase

To me, the most important part of the design process is the discovery phase. It’s critical to spend the time learning as much as possible about the client and the project before moving forward. This is not the phase to skip, skimp or to try to reduce costs by shortening. With the focus often on UX and the user, sometimes the basics of understanding the context of the project and the client’s needs are overlooked by designers.

The discovery phase includes learning more about the project and it’s also the beginning of my relationship with the client. As designers, we often underestimate the time needed to educate the client and to get them on board with the design process. Doing this upfront can help in the long run. The more the client understands a team’s process, the better appreciation they’ll have for the work. Also, I want to make sure I know who all the stakeholders are, and anyone else who is a decision-maker for the project.

As an educator, I know design students are often surprised how important this phase is. New designers might make the mistake of taking the project and the client’s requests at face value. What we forget to ask, or to dive deeper in this phase, can pop-up unexpectedly during the project, sometimes with negative consequences. I want to be sure I find out all I can early in the process. I need to know the project and the client before moving on to understanding the user.

Basically, as designers we’re working towards this for the project:

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

– Albert Einstein

~ Jamie Cavanaugh, Interaction Designer, Educator, and Founder of Design Higher

Defining the Problem Clearly

Here at Code and Theory, we kick off every project with a phase we call Define. It has been called different things in my previous design roles; but essentially, it is using design thinking tools to figure out the problem you’re trying to solve. Once the problem is scoped and defined, even more important is communicating your findings in an elegant and digestible way.

Generally, this means doing design workshops with clients or internal stakeholders to get them bought into the design process and refine the problem. Often project initiatives are driven by business goals instead of user interests. It is our job as experience designers to ensure that the business goals can be translated into a solution that solves the business’s problem (usually, needs more money), while continuing to provide value to the user.

This process should take place before an interface is considered, and to be used as a guiding principle when going to build your experience. If you start designing without a clearly defined idea of what problem you’re solving and who you’re designing for, you’ll end up making things that are never used or useless.

~ David Plakon, UX Designer, Code and Theory

Inspiration Breaks

As a designer, I have a constant need to be re-energized and it is essential for me to find new inspiration in the simplest of things. It’s easy to get stuck at my desk in the same boring routine, but that also likely means that my design gets stale and repetitive. I like to take little (sometimes, not so little!) breaks in my design process to do things that are seemingly unrelated to the work I’m doing!

For me, these things can be random doodling, working on a Medium post, play time at the dog park with my pup, or a powerlifting session! Of course, this will be different for everyone depending on what makes you happy. The magic is that this practice often gets my creative juices flowing again and ensures that I never get bored!

~ Ling Lim, Senior Experience Designer, Yahoo

Prototyping as a Way of Learning

I try not to skip any, of course, but the one I never, ever skip is prototyping. To me it’s the essence of design: give shape to ideas quickly as a means to learn rather than validate.

From very rough paper prototypes to hi-fi click dummies, prototypes come in many shapes and forms. They’re whatever you feel comfortable with to make your ideas, assumptions, and hypotheses tangible (and shareable). I am no good at sketching, so I tend to go digital quickly (with as much of a rough, hand-sketched look and feel as I can achieve, at least for the first iteration). It helps me better understand the needs and wants of users and stakeholders alike.

Prototypes are immensely valuable as well to communicate an intention and get the ball rolling with the graphic designers and developers I work with. By allowing us to get things out of our head and onto paper or screen, prototypes greatly reduce ambiguity and miscommunication. To be fair, prototypes alone don’t achieve much. They have to go hand in hand with user testing and iterating. Once you’ve given shape and tested your design—hopefully gaining valuable insights about what works and what doesn’t—you need to work your findings into your design and repeat.

Most importantly: accept being wrong and fail to eventually nail it. It’s all about humility really.

~ Annabel Roux, Freelance UX Designer & Design Thinking Coach

What part of your design process do you never skip and why? Share with us in the comments below.

Artist Spotlight: Tina Touli


Creative Cloud

We first met Tina Touli at OFFF 2017, and since then have become increasingly fascinated with her unique form of visual crafting and digital story-telling, in which she uses a blend of physical and digital objects to create mesmerising work. We spoke to her to find out more.

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

I am Tina Touli, a London-based multidisciplinary graphic communication designer, art director, maker, speaker and educator. I enjoy to build solid concepts and to constantly blend things from the physical and the digital world, working across different platforms and mediums.

I always loved communicating through any form of art. Since I was little I was keen on dancing, drawing, playing music, and others. I attended a music school, which kept me involved with all disciplines of art from architectural drawing to acting. Only few months before graduating I realized what I wanted to do in my life. When a friend told me about design, a field that would allow me to combine everything that I was passionate about, audio, motion, visuals, etc. I knew exactly where I belonged.

I studied MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins and BA in Graphic Arts and Design at Technological Educational Institute of Athens. I worked on various studios such as Pearlfisher and Blast Design, while currently I work at Tina Touli Design, my private London based multidisciplinary studio and I teach the “Digital Illustration” short course at Central Saint Martins.

I have been invited to present my work in different events, for instance, the Adobe Live Stream at OFFF Festival in Barcelona and the Adobe Creative Meet Up in London. My designs have been repeatedly awarded by associations like L’Oréal Professional Paris, Hewlett Packard, Adobe, Transform Awards, European Packaging Design Association, etc. In addition, my artwork has been published in various publications, such as the “Creative Packaging Structures” and the “Playful Graphics”.

What defines me the most is persistency. I enjoy to continuously challenge myself, by experimenting and setting up new goals, never giving up on them. What motivates me and keeps me going is the excitement of something new. Learning and creating something different from what you did last time, something that you did not expect, is what excites me the most.

AS: How would you describe your style?

Multidisciplinary. I like the potential of design. I am open minded about mediums, materials, textures, processes, interactions and techniques. I usually start my projects by building a simple concept and creating strong designs by interacting with the “objects” from the physical and the digital world. Most of the times, I combine various approaches and work across different platforms and mediums trying to I find for each project the most appropriate technique, being always open to any design solution.

I enjoy working on different projects which require diverse skills and techniques. What motivates and excites me the most is the challenge of working on a variety of projects with different needs, which require different mediums and skills.

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

Anything around me can be inspirational and an “object” for investigation. A hole on a t-shirt, a wrong print, the foil paper that we wrap our food, even the sketchbook as an object itself. When I am struggling to find inspiration from my immediate surroundings, I am looking at the work of other professionals from totally different fields. I will avoid seeking inspiration to other designer’s art, who are working in the same field as I. The more unexpected the recourse of inspiration is going to be, the more likely it is to create original work. It is also really helpful to create an archive with your images of inspiration and to always keep notes of your ideas, so you can refer back to them.

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

What defines me is persistency. I like to continuously challenge myself, by setting new goals and never give up on them. This can be really challenging since it can easily lead me to a non stop working pace. I sometimes find it hard to convince myself stop working, even for a few hours, which is important for a designer to do in order to regain his/her energy and keep being creative. What helps me to overcome this challenge is keeping daily schedule filled with various activities and tasks as for example, going to the gym.

(Behind the scenes shot of Tina’s artwork created exclusively for Adobe Stock and Create Magazine )

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

It goes without saying that stock images can be a great help for designers for various reasons. For example, they can reduce the project’s costs, since there is no need to hire a photographer, etc., and they can enhance your creative process, by allowing you to easily and quickly visualize your ideas. Stock images aren’t what there used to be. For example, Adobe Stock does not only offer a huge number of images, it is actually moving away from ordinary stock photos and offers a great variety of high quality images contributed by talented photographers and other designers.

AS: What artists and designers should we be following?

There are so many great designers out there that is worth following! One of them that comes to my mind is Rik Oostenbroek, a really talented illustrator and art director. He is working on various fields of design and he’s known best for his dynamic forms and unique abstract shapes. Cyril Vouilloz, known for his unique playful approach in typography, is another great designer who has been a huge inspiration to me. Last but not least, Javier Jaén, a graphic designer, known for his symbolic, playful language, who is another inspiring visual artist worth following.

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

It is great how you can quickly and easily search, download and license your images right inside your Adobe Creative Cloud apps! Everything is so much efficient when you don’t have to search the number of the image and go back to the website to license it. Another feature that I like a lot, is that Adobe Stock allows you to drag and drop an image on the search area which will produce a list of options of similar images. There is no need to try to find the key words which describe what you are looking for, as long as you have a reference image.

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

One of my favorite projects that I worked on lately was the poster for the 30 years of Adobe Illustrator, created during the Adobe Graphic Design Live Stream. It was not only because of the outcome, but because of the challenging process and the exciting experience. Inspired by the way in which we flip the pages of our notebooks, representing the past, the present and the future, I created a three dimensional paper sculpture and used it as a guide for the design. It depicts the number “30”, a horizontally symmetrical number, standing for the 30 years of Adobe Illustrator. It was so exciting to work on this poster with the support of Michael Chaize and all the amazing people watching the live stream, and share the way in which I am working and challenge myself to design a poster for this special anniversary, live over just three days, two hours every day! It is important to enjoy, appreciate and receive satisfaction from every little thing that you do, without worrying about the outcome. The best work comes when you have fun making it!

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

It is really interesting how music, something not visual, can have a great impact to what I am working on. For me, when I design there has to always be some sort of sound/music playing. It helps me ignore everything around me and concentrate on my work. When I start a new project, at the stage of brainstorming, I don’t really have any preference on the type of music, since most likely I will be concentrated to build a concept without actually listening to the music. But still, there has to be some kind music turned on. When I am designing, it depends on my mood, I usually prefer to listen to rock music. Finally, when I am doing more technical muscle-memorized work, I prefer to listen to speeches or even “watch” a movie on the second screen, so everything becomes more interesting and enjoyable.

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

While scrolling down on your social media pages you should have undoubtedly noticed that most of the images are nowadays motional images, such as videos, gifs, boomerangs and cinema graphs, not just static images as it used to be before. I find myself thinking of motion on my early stages of design, even while brainstorming, something that I did not used to do before. It goes without saying, that moving image, an existing tool which became a trend, now is playing a really important role in the design processes and outcomes. We live in a technological era and we will definitely see a great development at the digital techniques and outcomes, such as moving image.

I am not sure which exactly are going to be the new trends, and personally I am always trying to avoid them as much as I can. Trends are changing day after day, but a good design is something that you will remember the next month, the next year, and over the passage of time. It is important to always follow the evolution of the trends and to keep challenging yourself and experiment with the new mediums and techniques, concentrating on those that you enjoy the most. Evidently, motivation is what keeps humans up to their toes.

To see more of Tina’s work, check out her website, Instagram and Behance portfolio.

Crafting Double Exposures with Birgit Palma


Creative Cloud

Birgit Palma describes her creative process as, above all else, playful. So when we asked the Austrian-born and Barcelona-based artist, illustrator, and type designer to try out the new Logitech Craft Keyboard, she was game. We followed Birgit as she created a double exposure image with the new keyboard to see how it impacted her process.

Birgit started the double-exposure project as she always does – by finding two images that, on their surface, have nothing to do with one another – and imagining how she could invent a new visual story by merging them together in one composition. For this project she landed on the idea of blending the organic shapes of a portrait with the whimsical architecture of a Russian church.

After quickly masking and layering the selected images, Birgit began messing around in Adobe Photoshop CC. “My way of working includes a lot of playing around, I try out a million things just to see if I like the outcome. Craft’s input dial invites me to play – it’s easy to achieve different effects, opacities, brush sizes just by turning the Crown. It’s possible to test different effects in a faster way, it saves time and gives me a new layer of creative control.”

After settling on a rough composition, she works on the details that help transform the two images into one. “I then used the Crown to change the opacity of the top picture, the building, and to toggle through the Blend Modes I’d use for the Double Exposure.”

Birgit refined the piece with some gentle retouching – using the analog input dial to enlarge and shrink the brush size as she moves around the composition. And even though she’s quite far along in the process, Birgit is still, as she would put it, “playing around”.

“I still wasn’t sure if the piece would be black & white or color, so I just used the Crown to play with saturation to see what feels better. As a last step, I use a levels layers to give it the final accents and to create that fluent double-exposure effect.”

Birgit found that Craft and it’s input dial enhanced her experience creating in Photoshop. “Next to helping achieve a great deal of concentration it requires playful interaction. It’s refreshing to work with an element which is more sensitive and allows you to use it in different ways by turning & tapping. I’m working nearly 100% digitally, but I like the possibility of gaining more creative control outside the screen by using new techniques.”

Logitech will be in booth 205 at Adobe MAX 2017, demoing the new CRAFT Advanced Keyboard. Conference attendees, as well as design enthusiasts at home, can win one of 10 exclusive double exposure prints from Palma and a CRAFT keyboard during the show on Logitech’s Facebook and Twitter pages and each day in the booth. Adobe Creative Resident Jessica Bellamy will also create works of art from the Logitech booth.

 

Adobe note:

To provide a tight integration with the Adobe Creative Cloud, the Logitech team turned to the rich set of SDK and API services offered by the Adobe Creative Cloud Platform. Go to Adobe.io for more information.

HP: Reinventing The Magic of Printing


Creative Cloud

User experience (UX) design is about much more than just creating an interface that is beautiful to look at. The best UX design allows users to intuitively grasp how something works. Every choice, from color to size to placement, can change a user’s experience from frustration into delight and help the customer get the most from their technology.

For the past ten years, J.D. Knight has worked to create user-friendly interfaces for HP’s industry-leading printers and accessories. Ten years ago, user-interfaces referred to the small electronic screens and interfaces on the printers themselves. J.D. introduced print screen animation, animated product demos, and other interface animations that not only looked good, but helped users quickly grasp how their HP products worked.

Today, the user interface has jumped from printers to smartphones. J.D. now works as part of the Global Experience Design team to create mobile experiences that delight users. One of the projects he recently worked on was the HP Smart App, which enables customers to use their smartphone to share or print documents and images from email, text messages, social media, or cloud storage services.

The Global Experience Design team uses Adobe XD CC to collaborate on the app prototypes for Apple, Windows, and Android devices. After working with many other prototyping tools, J.D. was happy to move to Adobe XD and consolidate all app prototyping in a single tool. “Adobe XD CC was looking like a one-stop shop for app prototyping and I wanted to be a part of the experience,” he says.

For J.D., the attraction to an app wasn’t just its mobility. People enjoy apps that personalize experiences and help them make the app truly their own. The HP Smart App uses a tile layout featuring colored tiles representing different functions and image tiles representing content types. J.D. used Adobe Stock to find images to fit the different content types and inspire users to make the app their own.

Users can rearrange and personalize the layout at will. They can select a favorite image from their camera roll and use it as the tile for specific types of content. If a user frequently prints photos from Facebook, they can place a tile representing Facebook front and center.

J.D. and the Global Experience Design team at HP are happy to continue providing input to the Adobe XD team so they can add features and functionality that make a difference for UX designers.

Read more about how HP is using Adobe XD.

Adobe Enhances Partner Ecosystem at MAX


Creative Cloud

Consumer expectations are at an all-time high and brands must create and deliver amazing experiences at every turn to succeed. Each company has a unique set of business challenges it must address on the path to becoming an experience-led business. Tailored, innovative technology is required to make this a reality.

Through our partner program, we’re helping agencies, systems integrators, independent software vendors (ISV), and technology companies empower their customers to lead with experience and grow their business through a deeper relationship with Adobe. Our partner ecosystem includes more than 4,700 agencies, systems integrators, ISVs, and technology partners worldwide.

Today at the Adobe MAX conference, we’re excited to announce new advancements across our global partner ecosystem.

Tata Consultancy Services Standardizing on Adobe XD
Today, we launched Adobe XD, an all-in-one design solution that enables experience design teams to design, prototype and share websites and mobile applications at scale. I’m excited to announce our first partner and systems integrator to standardize on the app Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting and business solutions organization. TCS will leverage Adobe XD as its main creative solution for UX and UI design internally, as well as with its clients, starting in its Digital Interactive practice.

Courtesy of Tata Consultancy Services

TCS advises the world’s largest brands across industries – retail, consumer, technology and more – on digital strategies spanning design, content, technology, and performance. As TCS looks to grow its design talent across 45 countries, Adobe XD will enable the company to scale quickly and collaborate more effectively internally and with clients.

When I spoke with Sunil Karkera, the global head of TCS Digital Interactive, about the news he said, “Adobe XD gives us an end-to-end tool to create experience design at scale. This increases productivity for our global creative talent and streamlines design collaboration with our customers.”

With a relationship exceeding 13 years with Adobe, TCS has a record number of Adobe solutions deployed for companies in many different industries across the globe. TCS is excited that Adobe XD integrates with Creative Cloud – which is used by their own in-house designers and their global clients every day. The sharing, commenting and collaboration features in Adobe XD are powerful to TCS design teams – enabling them to work more effectively together on designs and to be able to share and keep design assets in sync.

Introducing the New Adobe Exchange Marketplace

Today, we’re also unveiling the next iteration of the Adobe Exchange marketplace. Brands benefit from access to all third-party applications across Adobe Creative Cloud, Document Cloud and Experience Cloud in one central location. Previously, customers could only access third-party applications via different portals for each Adobe cloud.

The Adobe Exchange marketplace houses thousands of pre-built applications that connect Adobe solutions and best-of-breed third-party technology providers. These applications empower customers to truly customize their Adobe solutions to fit their unique business needs. In addition to the new marketplace, we’re also announcing several third-party applications from leading creative companies, built using Creative Cloud SDKs and APIs. They will all soon be available on the new Adobe Exchange marketplace:

  • Frame.io – Simplifies video editing by enabling designers to move videos and comments seamlessly between Frame.io and Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects.
  • Jira – Streamlines collaboration between designers and developers by allowing designers to attach designs and assets created in Adobe Creative Cloud to an Atlassian Jira project without leaving Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Logitech – Enables greater control of the creative process for designers using the new Craft keyboard, featuring a creative input dial that adapts to what the designer is creating in Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Microsoft Speeds up creative feedback, iteration, and decision-making by giving designers the ability to share Adobe Creative Cloud assets and Adobe Stock images in Microsoft Teams.
  • PageProof – Streamlines and simplifies the review and approval process by letting designers send out their creative assets for real-time feedback, without leaving their Adobe Creative Cloud applications.
  • Pantone – Saves time and resources by giving designers access to more than 2,000 Pantone colors in Adobe Illustrator in order to preview how they would appear on 28 different packing materials, inks and print processes.
  • Workfront – Speeds up the review and approval process by giving designers the ability to save and export assets created in Adobe Creative Cloud to Workfront.
  • Wrike – Streamlines project management by integrating Wrike’s functionality – like finding a task, adding comments, and marketing tasks as complete – directly into Adobe Creative Cloud.

Partners can start adding listings and customers will be able to access the listings in the new Adobe Exchange marketplace later this year. Over the next few months, we’ll also be adding new functionality into the Adobe Exchange marketplace like private sharing. This will give partners the ability to share an integration privately for beta testing or for a customer to distribute internal apps to employees.

As consumer expectations continue to grow, so does our need to innovate and help customers build against those expectations. Our work with partners is an integral part of Adobe’s vision to help customers meet the future needs of consumers everywhere. If you’re interested in learning more about how to get involved in Adobe’s global partner program, visit https://www.adobe.com/partners.html.