Storytelling Made Better

ely_greenfield.0dbb7a48Everyone has a story that matters. The good news is that telling your story, with impact, is getting easier.

A year ago, Adobe launched Adobe Voice, our app for creating animated videos. Now, Voice has a new family member: Adobe Slate helps you turn your next document into beautifully laid-out web content.

Voice and Slate are iPad apps to help everyday people create great quality content to tell their stories. They represent a new, broader offering for “deliberate creators”—people who understand that the production quality of the content improves their ability to get their message across. This is just another example of the kind of innovation going on at Adobe in the era of Creative Cloud.

We spoke with Ely Greenfield, senior principal scientist for Voice, about how these apps fit into the market and Adobe’s strategy.

Q: What makes Voice and Slate a family?

Ely Greenfield: For both, we’ve crafted a really safe, creative environment where people can explore different options without worrying about getting lost in a dizzying sea of conflicting design choices. Both Voice and Slate are designed for people who don’t have the design or technical expertise to tackle some of our more professional products. The best option of course will always be to work with a professional designer, but not every project has the time or budget to make that possible.

There are tools out there today for deliberate creators, but even the ones that are designed to be technically approachable are still way too complicated for the average person—and they do very little to help you make sure that you actually get something beautiful when you’re done.

In other words, they help me make something, but that something may not be what I’m shooting for.

We’ve focused on making Voice and Slate easy to use and easy to work with to tell your story. For example, we’ve constrained the design choices users face at any one moment. When users are only exposed to the pieces they need when they need them, they feel less overwhelmed. We’ve also built in best practices—guiding you through the process at every stage.

Q: What’s your vision for this family, and how does it fit into Adobe’s overall strategy?

EG: Adobe is a creative company, and we’re always looking for ways to help people and businesses get their message across. That mission doesn’t just apply to elite designers; Voice and Slate help us extend that vision of creative empowerment to a broad spectrum of people.

Many people want to rise above today’s torrent of online communication and distinguish themselves. We’re providing the tools they need to help them say what they want to say and get noticed.

Q: What kind of feedback have you received?

EG: We’ve really struck a chord with people. We hear again and again that they love being able to create something 10 times better than they thought they’d be able to.

There’s nothing quite like Voice on the market. With Slate, there’s nothing that offers the kind of typography and premium font choices or the visual variety and motion.

And we’ve been happy to see that Creative Pros love them, too. They’re using them for client engagement—for example, letting clients rough out a story first.

Q: What industry trends are driving this move?

EG: Over the past decade, we’ve seen a massive democratization of the ability to get your message out, whether on social networks or on quick tools like Instagram; everyone has somewhere to be heard. But we haven’t yet seen the equivalent democratization of the means of production—making sure that your message looks and sounds great.

This, of course, is an area where Adobe has strength and history, so we’re leveraging that industry move but also leading it, by putting these creative tools in the hands of everyday people.

Q: What are a few of the most interesting stories you’ve seen created with Voice or Slate?

EG: We see everything from fun personal tales to great educational pieces and moving stories from nonprofits. Here are some examples:


  • Misty’s Plea: A couple puts out a creative call for cat-sitting help.
  • Lava Mae, a San Francisco nonprofit that provides free showers to the homeless, has created profiles of clients including Mary Mangan, Virgilio Poll, and Eric Kirk.


Q: Why do you think there’s such a hunger for this kind of app?

EG: Visual communication is the way of the world today: Study after study shows that a visual post is much more effective than a plain text one, no matter what the medium. But many people need help to make the most of this enhanced communication style. We all learned how to write a paragraph in school, but how many of us grew up learning how to communicate with photos—let alone video?

So quality production is the crucial second step. In other words, first you can get your message out, but then you have to compete in a world where how you say it is just as important as what you say.