Adobe UX App updated in Creative Cloud 2017
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Published on November 11, 2016
The new Adobe UX app for prototyping and designing user experiences continues to receive updates. Adobe’s UX app is simply called Adobe XD, short for Experience Design. Designs can be created within the app, then previewed within the same app, or on iPhones, iPads, and Androids using a companion app that is available for the iOS and Android operating systems. The UX design and prototyping process using Adobe XD is initially only available for Mac computers, but a Windows version is planned. The recently announced Adobe CC 2017 updates also included a number of revisions for Adobe XD.
Adobe UX App Preview
The UX App from Adobe is being offered a preview, as Adobe XD is considered a beta (not final) product at this time. This is because it is a brand-new app, as Adobe has never had a fully dedicated UX design and prototyping app. While various Adobe tools have been used for specific UX tasks, such as Fireworks for prototyping, Illustrator for wireframes, and Photoshop for UX mock-ups, Adobe XD is the first app from Adobe focused exclusively on UX design and prototyping. It also incorporates UX testing with collaboration and notes functionality as well. When it is available on both Mac and Windows platforms, it will likely be incorporated into UX training programs.
The most recent version of the preview of Adobe XD adds a number of functions necessary for a UX app, including layers, symbols, and feedback. Recall that these functions are available only on the Mac OS, as a Windows version of Adobe XD is not available and the mobile versions of the app are only for previewing UX designs, not creating content.
Layers in Adobe’s UX app
Most Adobe apps work with layers, and the new UX app from Adobe is no exception. Items placed on the design area, known as an artboard, can be placed on their own layers, similar to the functionality within Photoshop and Illustrator. Unlike these other Creative Cloud apps, XD layers panel is found in the bottom left corner of the workspace. The layers panel also acts a bit like the pages panel within InDesign, as double-clicking the icon of an artboard navigates to it. The layers panel also displays groups of objects along with individual items which can be selected either together or individually.
Add Symbols to UX Designs
Users of other Adobe web or animation apps, such as Adobe Animate (formerly known as Flash) may be familiar with symbols. A symbol is an object that can be reused throughout a layout. When one instance of a symbol is revised or updated the changes can easily be applied to all places where the instance is used. This makes updating common artwork elements, such as an icon, quite easy. Symbols are created by selecting any element and using the context menu (right-click on the object) then choosing the “Make Symbol” command. By double-clicking an existing symbol it can be edited, and changes to it are distributed to all locations where the artwork is used, even on other artboards. The symbols library shows a complete view of all symbols used in a project, and like other libraries, objects can be dragged directly from the library and placed on the canvas.
Adobe UX Apps for iPhone and Android
The Adobe UX apps for iOS and Android continue to provide the ability to preview designs and prototypes created in Adobe XD. The UX apps for phones and tablets provide only previews when used on iOS and Android, and are not used for creating or designing.
UX Collaboration in Adobe XD
While prototypes could previously be shared with users that have the mobile apps, collaboration was a separate step, either via email or messaging. Adobe XD includes UX collaboration through commenting that lets reviewers provide feedback directly within the same app used for viewing and testing. UX designers need to enable commenting, and can then make revisions and update the artwork for additional reviews. Reviewers need to sign-in for commenting, and UX designers receive a notification when comments are added to a design.
UX tools for Windows
The Windows version of Adobe’s UX app is expected to be available late in 2016 or early 2017. Until then, only the Mac OS version is available for public preview. With the new version being released for Windows, additional updates to both the Mac and future Windows version are likely.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.