Peek Behind the Sneaks: A New Way to Design – Responsive Creativity

Responsive design provides UX designers with a powerful tool for creating interfaces and web pages that work well on a variety of screen sizes. With it, content layout flows in a predictable and logical way, whether it’s viewed on a vertical smart phone, a horizontal laptop or a 4k display. 

But what if the same concept could be applied even earlier in the design process — to make design tools themselves more intuitive, faster and easier to use at the point of content creation?  That was the inspiration for Danielle Morimoto, an experience designer at Adobe, to create a new design tool called QuickLayout that she shared during Sneaks at MAX 2016.

“It’s a content-driven approach for adding content elements to a design layout,” she explains.  “As you add content — such as a photo, illustration or a bit of text — it creates a grid-based relationship across all the content elements.  That underlying structure can be adjusted and changes will cascade across the entire document.  As the structure of the page changes, content elements and masks resize accordingly in real time, allowing for rapid design iteration.”

Seeing QuickLayout in action is a revelation. Essentially, it’s a drag and drop interface for design that makes it easy for anyone to create pleasing, professional layouts.  Drag new content — such as a photo — over the design, and you’ll see a real-time visualization of how it will be incorporated into the layout. Once placed, the existing content on the page intuitively adjusts itself to incorporate the new element.

“With traditional design tools, you have a template where layout and style are all linked together.  The problem is that templates require specificity of content, so once you start to add real assets, the technology breaks, and the designer is forced to make all sorts of manual adjustments to the design,” Danielle notes. “With QuickLayout we wanted to create a more enjoyable process, where users don’t feel like they are breaking a template, but are making something better.”

Improving design tools is something Danielle is passionate about. “I first learned about Adobe products as a junior in high school. I was fortunate enough to be part of a program where I got to study design and web engineering. I’d always enjoyed art and making things by hand, but it wasn’t until I was given powerful tools to create things digitally that I saw myself doing this as a career. For me it’s really cool to be making tools like the ones that helped unlock my own creativity,” she reveals.

Although QuickLayout was originally developed as an easy way for non-designers to create one-page printed layouts such as flyers, brochures or business cards, Danielle hopes to see how it can be applied for more professional uses as well.  “As we were showing it around, we were surprised to see that professional designers were reacting really positively to it. If you’re used to having to go in and manually mask each image element in a design, this feels like a much more efficient process.  It’s a very different way of working with the pieces you are used to seeing everyday,” she muses.

This story is part of a series that will give you a closer look at the people and technology that were showcased as part of Adobe Sneaks. Watch other Sneaks from this year’s MAX here and read other Peek Behind the Sneaks stories here.