By jameskinney


September 12, 2011

With the advent of mobile, pad devices and the app store phenomenon there has been a trend that has effectively atomized product offerings that range from the sublime to the ridiculous (the latter seem to be doing a brisk business). This move away from “fat boy” apps that do everything under the sun to a widget with a streamlined and focused set of functions results in a daunting universe of choice akin to walking in to a candy store whose shelves are brimming to overflowing.
With so much up for grabs it begs the question: “Where do I begin?”
Adobe’s Periodic Table of Applications is no exception. While the products on the Adobe shelves are substantial they ,too, are by necessity, ever-expanding. Even for a seasoned user, the choice of which products will get the job done, is a difficult question that requires considerable research.

I am attempting to lead a transformation of our design department that will deeply integrate digital workflows—particularly those in the mobile space—and have been stymied by the task of trying to make sense of which workflows and toolsets make the most sense for particular contexts. The fact that many of the product offerings have significant overlaps in function make this task all the more intractable.
I made this known to some of the Adobe team while attending the San Jose educational summit this summer. I had bemoaned the fact that there was a palpable need for a killer infographic that detailed all of the production pathways and tools that one should use for particular tasks.

It suspect that  I came off as being rather naive to some of my technologically erudite colleagues. They informed me that there was no “right” way of doing things and that the nuances of each project required the aplomb of a Pebble Beach caddy in order to select the “right club” for the task at hand. While this may make sense for the seasoned professional, the fact remains that the sort of deep and latent process knowledge that many experts take for granted is inaccessible to the neophyte. I mused: “If only there were some sort of pre-application interface that could, through prompts, could ascertain the “WHAT” of your project and then present you with a number of scenarios for the “HOW” that would include workflows and tools.”

Imagine then, from a User Experience perspective, if all of our various expertise were to be explicitly rendered in a database that linked to a rich graphical front end, say, the very colourful Adobe Table of Elements. Imagine after answering a few prompts that branched down didactic rabbit holes of possibilities, the table of contents “LIT UP” like the letter board on Jeopardy! Imagine the pathways to production glowing in front of you, lighting your way from beginning to end!

I hope that Michael Gough, Adobe’s UX design head, has the opportunity to ruminate on this possibility!