Ever heard of Adobe Experience Design? It’s the best thing to happen to Experience Designers in recent years!
User Interface (UI) design isn’t always easy. Especially when you have to design and develop for various platforms and screen sizes when responsive designs come into play. If that isn’t enough, think about how high the bar has been set in recent years when the term ‘User Experience’ (UX) design has come into play. This not only incorporates the looks and functionality of a website but also how the users’ feelings are affected by the look and functionality, how it’s benefiting the user. This adds another dimension into the design – just like moving from 2D to 3D design.
In the past year or so, Adobe has come out with a solution to that problem, it’s called Adobe Experience Design CC and it’s a part of their Creative Cloud Suite. But is it worth all of that hype? And most importantly, is it worth your money? Let’s discuss it some more in this post.
Let’s start with the most important aspect of any design software, the tools within the work environment. As any designer will tell you, the tools available in certain creative software can make or break the product. And here’s the first issue that I come across in Adobe’s UX Designer, the tools. The lack of basic tools is mind-boggling at the start, you enter the designer and you see about 5 different options in the toolbar on the left and some properties on the right… is that really an Adobe product? Seriously. Surely, from the success of Adobe Photoshop, they would try and bring in as many of the tools available in that software as possible. But here’s the truth… …it’s not Photoshop and it’s not meant for the same audience. It’s designed to streamline the workflow of UX & UI Designers alike.
The tools that you get within the UX designer are basic, to say the least, but they suffice. You learn to deal with most situations using these tools as you’re able to draw rectangles, eclipses, and lines, which are the most common shapes in web/app development. You can deal with most other things by being able to import graphics from within Adobe Photoshop using a drag-drop interface. The next available tool is the pen, which most Photoshop users will be familiar with. And the last tool is a textbox, something websites are made to display. Although you’ll notice that there’s one last tool in the toolbox, and that’s the new ‘canva’, essentially a new view for your app/website.
Adobe Experience Design has quite a lot of flexibility when it comes to screen sizes and shapes though. You’re able to choose from a wide range of preformatted canva sizes for the various devices available today, this includes Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops/Desktops, and TVs. Out of these, you’re able to also choose some of the most common device-specific screen sizes, including the likes of the iPhone 6 or an iPad. If these don’t suit you, then you can select a custom screen size and background.
Something that isn’t as obvious, is that you can simply drag-drop images from a desktop or a folder as well as Adobe Photoshop. That’s obviously intuitive, yet not mentioned a feature that’s included in Xd. The program itself supports many different image formats, including JPEGs & PNGs as well as Vector Graphics. That’s obviously quite important as you’ll want to add background images as well as various icons and logos, and having the ability to add vector graphics allows you to work with resizeable logos, without having to create specific bitmap files and then worry about pixelation as you scale on different devices.
Something which you’ll definitely notice is the fact that whenever dragging an image onto a shape, Xd will automatically adjust the image to fit it in the shape and size of the target object. This is especially useful when working with a number of similar objects, like blog posts or product cards. This means that you don’t have to resize product images to fit every tile in your design, simply drag and drop all the images into the correct card and you’re done.
An important feature within Adobe Xd is the ability to select and drag the selection to then create a repeat grid. This allows you to quickly and easily prototype interfaces that include tiles, blog posts, or a gallery of images. This comes in handy multiple times when working with Web Development as you work on Blogs and E-Commerce stores that may require you to create a grid of tens of elements, saving you a lot of time in copying and pasting and then making sure that everything aligns.
By far the most important ability that you have within Xd is the fact that you can make your designs interactive. By switching to the ‘Prototype’ tab of the UI, you get the ability to map objects to take you to another canva. This allows you to quickly and easily create an app or website prototype where you can browse and get a feel for how the app is going to feel on the actual device. Combining this with the device preview (read on to find out more), you’re able to create prototypes to give to a testing group from your target market and get their opinion based on a solid preview of the concept. Further adding more ability to this, is the ability to select the transition animation as well as a transition period, something which really affects the User Experience of the application.
One of Adobe Xd’s unique points is that in order to streamline the creative process, it allows you to download the Experience Design mobile app (available on the Android Play Store as well as the Apple App Store). This allows you to preview and try out the interactivity of your app. This works only when you save your Xd file on Adobe’s Creative Cloud or if you’re using Apple Mac, then you can also access it through a USB cable. This is a vital feature of Adobe Xd as it allows you to verify your concept before any code has been written. This is why Adobe Experience Design is such a great tool for Business, as it allows you to follow the Agile & Lean methodologies.
Collaborating & Sharing Designs
A promised feature that we’re really looking forwards to is the ability to quickly and easily generate links to share your work from within Adobe Xd. This is a vital part of any Agile process as you need to be able to get feedback as quickly as possible from a client/customer. Xd’s sharing ability will allow you to change the way that you verify that your design meets the expectations of the customer.
All in all, Adobe Experience Design is an amazing tool for Creative Professionals that allows you to save vast amounts of time, that would otherwise be spent prototyping. This means that Businesses are able to complete more projects and deliver in much shorter amounts of time. This means more time and money available to invest in expanding and growing a business. SMEs can now save money on their internal development costs and complete projects with minimal amounts of staff and large marketing agencies can deliver more rapidly. That’s definitely worth the subscription cost to Adobe Creative Cloud… and if you’re already a paying subscriber, then here’s another tool available to you at no extra cost!