Adobe Systems, Inc.

Team Building

When I joined Adobe as the XD (Experience Design) Manager for Adobe Acrobat, my first job when taking over design + research for a product family with hundreds of millions of users was to make sure we had the best team, with the best talents. I hired new UI developers, reorganized team responsibilities to ensure the right people were working on the right things, and then led a deep user interface audit of the then-current Acrobat 8. This made sure we all understood just what Acrobat was made of, helped us communicate effectively with Product Management and Engineering, and it helped me propose UX updates, additions, and overhauls across the suite of applications.

Acrobat Overhaul for Release 10

While at Adobe, I oversaw the biggest visual and interaction update to Acrobat since its creation: the release of Acrobat X (10).

Acrobat had never been accused of being underpowered — indeed, many of Acrobat's complex features were never discovered or used by users, given the application's poor information architecture, and unusual naming conventions. My team took on the challenge of figuring how to reveal the depth of Acrobat's feature set, and also how to help users learn that these rarely-used features even existed. Ways we attacked this gnarly problem included:

  • Building a nearly-fully-functional prototype in Flash + Flex that allowed us to showcase feature improvements to PM, Engineering and senior leadership without waiting for them to actually be built.
  • Using this same prototype for extensive 1:1 usability studies with Acrobat users across a spectrum of industries. Gathering quantitative and qualitative data regularly through the product cycle allowed us to pragmatically make design decisions and prioritize where we should be spending our time and money. 

IPM Popup 02

IPM Notification 01

IPM Notification 02

Acrobat 10 Toolbar Wireframe

Acrobat 10 Gateway Sketches

Acrobat 10 Gateway Wireframes 02

Acrobat 10 Gateway Wireframes 01

Acrobat 10 Gateway Mockup