I got the opportunity to attend Adobe Max creative conference in downtown San Diego earlier this month. The conference blew me away; I learned an incredible amount about design thinking and came out the conference inspired and motivated.
Walking into the first day, it was amazing to see 10,000 designers from all over the world gathered in one place. It’s hard to even begin, given the amount of remarkable keynote speakers – filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, Airbnb head of global marketing Ariem Anthony, fashion designer Zac Posen.
Adobe Max gave a glimpse into the future of trending design like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, facial recognition and rapid prototyping. There were some major app updates, so I wanted to note a few big ones. Adobe launched Adobe XD, a rapid prototyping tool that seems fantastic for web and interaction designers. I’ve been able to experiment with it this week, and while initially it does seem to have limitations in comparison to more robust tools, it’s tagline “Design at the speed of thought” seems to be accurate. It is very intuitive and has features for UX designers like easy previewing, automatic links across art boards and quick collaboration. As well, since Adobe Max, my team has started to use Creative Cloud libraries. I went to a session “Cutting your time in half with Creative Cloud Services”, and it made me wish I had used libraries sooner to share and keep track of projects. It’s easy to set up libraries (you can see here) and it seems like a habit worth developing.
Me and Irene at Max Gallery
I was giddy to personally meet one of my favorite designers, Timothy Goodman at his talk “ The Difference Between Being Cute & Being Creepy Is One Emoji”. Timothy Goodman is fantastic not only for his incredibly unique campaigns like 40 Days of Dating and 12 Days of Kindness. I am more inspired by his ability to showcase his humanity through the content he produces. I am an avid follower of Timothy, not necessary for the beauty of his work, but for the honest, raw and relatable nature of the campaigns he produces. He talks about his flaws, fears and passions in everything from poetry to performance. We all have doubts and misgiving so it’s refreshing to see designers put it at the forefront. The biggest lesson I got out of his talk was that designers don’t need to always create perfect work. Some of the best work comes from work developed outside of a computer. Mostly, his point was to create passion projects. He also encouraged creators, to develop a variety of mediums, utilize collaboration and get in touch with your inner writer.
Timothy Goodman’s hand-lettering for Airbnb
My favorite Keynote speaker was Lynsey Addario, a photojournalist who won the MacArthur Fellowship and has covered conflicts and humanitarian rights issues in countries all over the world. She told stories of sneaking through borders and being held hostage, yet she continued her work letting nothing stop her. That kind of passion is beyond admirable, it is uplifting to see such sacrifice and dedication to exposing injustice. While other speakers may have related more to the work I do, Addario’s story was touching and incredible.
Gary Radburn, Director, VR and AR at Dell let the people of Adobe Max into the power and future of Virtual Realist. He talked about the mobile, immersive impact VR has on our future. VR has a valuation of $45B in the US market, and designers are creating unbelievable unique experiences with the technology. Radburn spoke about opportunities in every industry, including healthcare, where doctors could practice and see surgery from different vantage points. There have been waves of research in VR treating mental illness; PTSD and helping paraplegics stimulate the neurons in the spinal column.
My most applicable session came a very talented UX designer named Megan Fisher. She had a talk seen here called “Users are people too”. Megan talked about creating an environment where customers feel welcomed, supported and valued. She referenced one of my favorite creative approaches, human-centered design. She broke down how to put humanity back into design with a few steps: have a welcoming personality, speak like a human being and design for reality. Some practical suggestions she had were using low contrast, white space and put a face on your business. In studies, users are more willing to revisit and feel connected to a brand that has a face in their primary branding because friendly faces signal safety and belonging. She used examples like Mailchimp or Duolingo’s playful mascots, but noted an understanding that cute icons aren’t right for every business. There are other ways however, for user experience designers to integrated faces into their software and websites. For example, Sprout puts a face on their video icon or AirBnB features flat design characters on their 404 page to humanize the experience. Finally, when photos are more appropriate, using photography that shows the face of your users can help your brand connect in a friendly and real way.
If you didn’t get a chance to check out the conference, Adobe has made it possible for you to experience the conference online! You can view any of the keynotes or sessions here.
My last thought was sharing how gorgeous San Diego was! I was in awe of what an amazing city it is. Coming from living in big cities, I was taken with how clean and classy downtown San Diego is. I loved it! It was so wonderful being able to explore the city, get some good fish tacos and be with my fantastic team. I loved spending time with them, and felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Adobe Max.