UX design needs specialized tools

Design has changed in recent years not only by the many digital devices to which it needs to be adapted. Today, design is no longer just about aesthetics, it has to tell a good story about the product and be tailored to the end customer. “All good experiences start with great design,” said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen at his keynote address at the London Summit 2018. “Everything has a digital interface today. Experience design is well worth the effort. ”

The challenge today is also the pace: designs must be created in tight deadlines, but then delivered to many devices and platforms. Often adjustments affect hundreds of screens in apps or websites. Of course it is possible to use screendesign with tools like Photoshop. On the one hand, you have to pay attention to Photoshop, because it gives the software classic for more than a quarter of a century. It dates back to the days of the desktop PC and has managed to adapt to many trends such as web design. But when it comes to user experience, it was time to dare to make a fresh start that incorporates modern workflows like networked work from the ground up.


New challenges, new tool

Adobe XD (short for “Experience Design”) is this new approach. The software is an all-in-one solution for wireframing, prototype development, interface design and testing. Even the history of development was different with XD, as with previous design tools. XD appeared as a public beta. This gave the designers insight into the progress and the opportunity to give feedback to help shape the future of XD. With success, because over one million community members have downloaded XD. “We’ve thought about every single idea, comment, and suggestion,” writes Lahary Ravuri, Adobe’s director of design marketing, in a blog post about the release of the 1.0 release of Adobe XD CC.

If you look at Adobe XD, you will soon discover that it is different and more modern than previous design tools. XD can quickly design interfaces, get feedback, and export the assets for final production. It works with modern concepts such as wireframes, can define navigation paths and transitions. Modern ways to preview and share interactive prototypes save time and gather feedback from stakeholders. Changes can affect hundreds or thousands of linked screens. Just as fast are the final production assets generated.

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Try it easier

Even the design in XD is faster: Repetitive elements, image masking, color management, styles, symbols and layers are intelligently designed, consistently aligned with interface design and thus save enormous time. And in the end, the software works fast and stable – even if thousands of screen pages are in the draft. Everyone can see on Behance what can be done with XD: Here are examples of apps, web apps, store concepts, e-commerce designs, UI design, dashboards, websites and experiments.

It has become easier to experiment with XD in the future of Experience Design itself. Adobe has introduced a free starter subscription that will give everyone the tools to develop, share, and test user experiences. Included in this subscription is the permanent access to the desktop version of XD on Mac and Windows 10, including all development and prototyping features as well as the mobile preview apps on iOS and Android.

This makes it possible to design unlimited XD documents, to export production assets and to make videos to share experiences. Limitations exist only when sharing prototypes and design specifications, which are limited to one in the free version. If you have Creative Cloud subscription, you can already use the unlimited option.

AI improves productivity

How high XD is suspended at Adobe made Principal Designer Khoi Vinh at the Adobe MAX in the autumn clear: XD should get as much meaning in the future as Adobe Photoshop – because also the design changes itself. “Design today is more and more about how many clicks get something and how it affects the brand,” says Vinh.

When it comes to productivity, XI is increasingly using AI. With “Responsive Resize”, interface prototypes can be intelligently scaled. How buttons and other controls behave based on analysis of interface designs from the community. This saves the designer time and, for example, allows the user interface to be adapted more quickly to different screen sizes and devices. Much more lively interfaces brings the new “Auto-Animate” function. This turns each screen into a keyframe. Adobe XD calculates the intermediate steps and can thus automatically display fluid transitions. The designer can control how the elements behave.

The next creative medium is called Voice

XD can now also design prototypes for interactions with language assistants such as Amazon Echo. Thanks to a cooperation with Amazon, the recently released second generation of the display-equipped Echo Show is already supported. “Voice will be a part of all designs, but so far the tools were missing,” said Vinh, showing the new possibilities in Adobe XD. The prototypes from XD can be directly tested on the Echo Show. Vinh calls the new version of XD a major breakthrough towards the next generation of interactions. “We’re unlocking the power of Voice with XD for designers,” says Vinh.

The integration of XD into common collaboration tools is simplified by plugins. As an example, Adobe showed “World Ready,” which created three language versions in seconds from a prototype using Google Translate. This makes XD a platform that developers can easily extend. It remains exciting where the journey with XD still goes – and it is certainly only at the beginning. But XD shows impressively how the next generation of design software looks and what the idea of ​​collaborating with the community can do.

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