Creative Cloud for UX Design
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Published on April 14, 2016
Many user experience professionals use the Creative Cloud for UX Design tasks, yet it’s important to not jump into the Adobe CC applications too early in the process. Adobe Creative Cloud fits into the UX process well after the dust from the post-its has settled, the whiteboard is scribbled over, and the information hierarchy has been determined. Even low-fidelity prototypes should be created long before the UX designer jumps into visual design – or UI design with the Creative Cloud. In a small team, the UX designer is often also serving as the visual designer. In larger teams, the UX designer may not be creating the visual design, but will certainly be involved, and possibly even managing it. It is at the visual design stage of UX that the Creative Cloud tools become extremely useful.
Importance of Learning UX Tools
Visual designers working in user experience teams use many tools that are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud for UX design tasks. Like any professional tool, it’s important to know how use them in order to be successful. Because of this, in addition to the UX training component the UX Certificate program incorporates both Photoshop classes as well as Illustrator training into the overall curriculum. Below we discuss some of the ways in which Creative Cloud tools are used as part of the UX process
Illustrator CC for UX Design
What may start as a mess of post-its and whiteboard scribbles can be taken by a UX designer into Adobe Illustrator and quickly converted from the rough structure, or Information Architecture (IA) into a presentable piece of information. Illustrator is part of the Creative Cloud and makes it easy to turn a rough structure into something suitable for distributing to the team, or placing on a wall for additional collaboration. Although there are many user-flow apps available, the graphic control that Illustrator provides makes it a great tool when organizing the information architecture. A designer can use Illustrator to create a box for each screen. The UX design in Illustrator may include features in list form inside each box, representing individual screens, and draw arrows to create a basic map of a user flow or interaction flow. These simple static designs provide a guidepost for a design and development team to remain on-track, allowing them to refer back to the original intent as the project progresses. With its multiple art boards, Illustrator also serves as a great tool for creating mockups, acting as the tool for consolidating design assets such as text and images.
Experience Design CC a Dedicated UX tool
Once the user flow is completed, a UX designer can also use the new Creative Cloud tool Adobe Experience Design for creating interactive prototypes and testing the user flow and process at early stages of a site or app design.
Photoshop CC in the UX Design Process
When the UX design process is ready to move on to the visual design stage, Photoshop fits into the UX process. Photoshop can be used for a variety of UX tasks. Designers use it to create complete UX mock-ups, or for designing icons and buttons.
Start with Analog design before moving UX to Creative Cloud
With all these great UX tools in Creative Cloud, a designer may consider running the entire process entirely within the Adobe tools. While Adobe may like to see this, it’s bad practice to design an entire site entirely within digital tools. If a team is in one room, collaboration on a whiteboard with post-it notes makes it easier for screens, workflow, and processes to be evaluated, tested, and iterated. When working with dry-erase on a white board or pencil in a sketchbook, designs don’t feel permanent and are easier to manipulate and evaluate. While UX benefits from Creative Cloud tools in the prototype, mock-up, and visual design stages, they complement the process.
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.