Software

XD: Adobe's next Photoshop?

Adobe XD was publicly released into the wild in late 2017. Now Adobe is showing that the app is primed to change the world of UX and UI design.

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When I attended Adobe Max last year, Adobe did a heck of a job showing off the use of AI in the creative space. I openly didn't believe in AI being that beneficial for creatives, but Adobe proved me wrong. In addition to all of the AI talk, Adobe officially released its XD app as it aimed to boost productivity in the world of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). Well the plot has thickened. Adobe is now showing that it's fully supportive when it comes to the development of new creative artists interested in UX and UI.

SEE: Black Friday deal—25% discount on Adobe Creative Cloud (promo ends Nov. 23, 2018)

What is Adobe XD?

XD is the fairly new offering from Adobe that is designed as a tool for creating captivating interfaces and user experiences. It's for your next visual products, such as a web interface or mobile apps. The app uses intuitive menus and keyboard shortcuts similar to other Adobe products. But the design process can be as granular or global as you see fit. Want to change the color scheme of all the screens in your app? Easy. Do it in a few clicks to globally change the color scheme. Want to put a layout on screen three that's similar to the layout of screen one? That's easy to do as well with XD's Repeat Grid function. This is much faster than doing copy/paste over and over again.

SEE: The latest Adobe Photoshop update continues to flex its AI muscles (TechRepublic)

The beauty of XD is that users can seamlessly go from "designer" to "prototype" mode with just a click. This makes it super easy for developers to grab any of the specified objects and animations to be implemented into the new app or web design. Adobe also wants XD to seamlessly integrate with the Creative Cloud and third-party apps, primarily Photoshop and Sketch.

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Image: Adobe


What's the big news?

The big news is how Adobe has sweetened the pot for aspiring designers. First, Adobe XD can now be installed for FREE with the Adobe XD Starter Plan. The starter kit allows all of the glorious functionality, but limits the sharing/collaboration ability to just one project or spec at a time. The starter kit also includes access to icon packs, fonts, and templates, which can be used as a baseline to get your project started. Popular design studios Anton & Irene and Buro Destruct contributed some of the templates.And if you want to design an app for the Apple watch, templates are available that are Apple approved.

If you're an enterprise with several in-house users, you'll have to pay for XD via a single app monthly purchase or a access it via the full Creative Cloud suite pricing. Adobe XD is available for Windows, OSX, and mobile.

Adobe is also putting its money where its mouth is by creating the Adobe Fund for Design. The fund is specifically for new creative artists and "small" studios in the design space with an emphasis on getting the team up and running and getting their product to market. They can even out future (beta) plugins and features of Adobe XD each month. Adobe will offer access to some of its clients that may be of assistance to these new teams, as well. The clients can help steer the design team closer to what real-world clients want in a user experience. Funding is available globally to applicants in the form of grants and equity investments, said Khoi Vinh, principal designer at Adobe, on the a recent conference call.

SEE: Getting started with drone photography (free TechRepublic PDF)

Why does this matter?

First off, performance is boosted. New libraries now allow XD to open up Photoshop and Sketch files seamlessly. Existing work can continue, even though the file is opened in a new app with new capabilities and options. Second, design affects the market just as much as pricing does in nearly every service or product used. Adobe realizes this and aims to capitalize on it by cultivating more and more creative artists to focus on the user experience for all the apps and services we enjoy today as consumers.

"We believe Adobe XD will be as big if not bigger than Photoshop. The field of experience design is redefining work and life as we know it, and we're building a platform to push it forward," said Scott Belsky, chief product officer and executive VP of Creative Cloud, as he joined the conference call. That's a pretty bold statement. Photoshop has been an amazing benefit (and sometimes detriment) in print and online photography for many years. It has given photographers and designers a ton of flexibility when it comes to composition and post production. Given this body of work from the life of Photoshop, Belsky still thinks this highly of XD? Interesting.

SEE: Three free apps to handle your photo editing needs (TechRepublic)

Personally, I have to agree with his statement. So many decisions at the consumer level are based on pricing and how the product is designed. There are so many apps in the mobile space with a great premise but a horrible user experience because of poor design. There are just as many, if not more, web services that beg for a better UX. Navigation should be intuitive and efficient. Extra clicks or tabs ruins the user experience. In a world where most everything is going toward an online service via a browser or mobile app, now is a great time to sow seeds of success to reap benefits of satisfied clients and customers.

Your thoughts

Although Adobe XD doesn't fit into my workflow at this time as a photographer and videographer, I do think it's a great idea to centralize the design and development procedures of apps and interfaces and offer real money to cultivate the design space around the globe. Have you worked with XD? Share your thoughts and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About Ant Pruitt

Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.

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