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Meet the Experience Design Team Behind Adobe XD CC

Andi Galpern

Meet Talin.

Talin Wadsworth, Lead Product Designer at Adobe XD CC

He and three other Adobe employees started this whole thing.

In 2014, Talin and a small team launched a new software to design prototypes and user experiences.  They called it "Project Sparkler." In four months they had a proof of concept up and running, and the first design files were being created and shared. Six months later, they convinced Adobe to invest in the new screen design software.  

In October 2015, Adobe rebranded the software as Project Comet ahead of its unveiling. They released a beta app and announced it at Adobe Max.  In March 2016, Adobe introduced a formal beta to the public and called it Adobe XD CC.  Anyone with a Creative Cloud account could now use the software.  XD was out of Beta at Adobe MAX 2017. Since the release of Project Comet 2 years ago, the team published more than 20 updates.

Since the release of Project Comet 2 years ago, the team published more than 20 updates to Adobe XD.

XD is now a rich platform for mobile, desktop, and device design. It's part of Adobe Creative Cloud, but is available for free. With XD, product designers can build rich user experiences and interactive prototypes.  The team works with designers around the world to guide the roadmap of new features.  Everyone from the team uses XD to prototype new features for XD.  How meta! 

Everyone from the Adobe XD team uses XD to prototype new XD features. How meta.


Adobe XD is a key priority for the company. There are many talented people who work on the product, and I was lucky to interview four of them.  Let's take a behind the scenes look at what it's like to work on Adobe XD.  Since you were already introduced, let’s continue with Talin.  

Talin Wadsworth

Lead Product Designer at Adobe XD

1 of 4 people who founded XD
Joined in January 2011
Talin Wadsworth, Lead Product Designer at Adobe XD CC


Talin joined Adobe 7 years ago.  He started on the Creative Cloud team, which transformed how the company distributes its software.  His team moved Adobe from a boxed software to a subscription-based digital software.  Talin studied the change of the design industry and what these new workloads meant for Adobe.  He knew they needed to be strategic and solve problems for a medium that continues to evolve.

Adobe Creative Cloud spans across 21 creative production apps and resources such as Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, InDesign CC, Adobe XD CC, Premiere CC, and more.


Designers Needed a Prototyping Tool that could Animate and Show Interactions

After his work on Creative Cloud, Talin moved onto design Adobe Sketch for iPad.  While working on the app, he was at a design crossroads. Talin couldn't communicate interactions and user interfaces to his development team.  Static designs were not enough.  He wanted to showcase how a user can move through an experience of the drawing app he was working on. At the time, he used Adobe After Effects CC and Apple Keynote to show motion, animation, and interactions. Keynote was useful, but didn't cut it. He needed a tool to design and prototype interactions within a single application. This opened the doors for Talin and three Adobe employees to begin what would become Adobe XD CC.

While Talin worked on Adobe Sketch for iPad, he was at a design crossroads. He couldn't communicate interactions and user interfaces to his development team.  Static designs were not enough.  



Work at Adobe

Today, Talin oversees that XD delivers a consistent and beautiful experience.  He works as a Creative Director, a Product Designer, and Product Evangelist. Among many things, he syncs with Spectrum, Adobe’s Design Systems team, and the components team to ensure a uniform experience across CC apps.  

Talin shines at visual storytelling and creating presentations that make sense to everyone. His background in branding and style guides translates into consistent digital user-focused experiences.  At the end of the day, he wants to tell a story and communicate ideas.

“Adobe’s core mission is to create great creative tools.”
– Talin Wadsworth, Lead Designer at Adobe XD


Formal Design Training

Talin applies his formal training in design to many outlets.  Fourteen years ago, he moved from Salt Lake City, Utah to attend California College of the Arts. He’s always thought of design as an approach rather than a medium.

Demian Borba

Strategic Development Manager at Adobe XD

Joined in August 2015

Demian Borba, Strategic Development Manager at Adobe XD CC

Demian began his work at Adobe as a Product Manager for Project Sparkler, the alpha version of XD.  There were three Product Managers when he started.  Now there are a lot more.  

His work includes traveling around the world to meet with design teams.  He studies how they work, builds relationships, and tests new features.

Strategic Development Team

In August 2017, Demian became a part of the Strategic Development team, a new team created for XD.  He considers himself an "Outbound Product Manager."  In this role, Demian partners with designers from companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Target.  

Community-Driven Product Development

Demian believes XD's approach to community-driven product development is Adobe's strongest in history.  His team embeds themselves into the customers to get feedback and validate first.  He learns about their process and tests features.  Demian then synthesizes customer input to direct product initiatives.    

"We want to fail fast to succeed sooner and test at a microscopic level."
– Demian Borba, Strategic Project Manager at Adobe XD


Recently, he relocated to San Diego, CA to invest in the design community. He is working on final steps to become a Designer in Resident at the UCSD Design Lab, founded and directed by user experience legend, Don Norman. The Design Lab teaches designers to solve problems with design thinking.  They also cover how to address core issues and take a systems thinking point of view.  This type of thinking can improve organizations and solve global problems.  

Mindset Over Competition

Demian realizes that competition is tough right now and mindset is everything.  Demian focuses on delivering the right value without getting distracted by competition. Demian states, "We know that's a lot happening with Invision and Sketch and we have a lot of respect for those guys.  But we're forcing ourselves not to be influenced or distracted by that."


"We know that's a lot happening with Invision and Sketch and we have a lot of respect for those guys.  But we're forcing ourselves not to be influenced or distracted by that."
– Demian Borba, Strategic Project Manager at Adobe XD

Education, Teaching, and Learning

Demian’s educational background makes him an irreplaceable asset to the XD team.  He holds degrees in Industrial Design, Computer Science.  He has three certificates from UC San Diego.  These include Marketing, Business Management, and Project Management.

He loves to teach as much as he loves to learn.  Demian taught design and programming classes at Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning, The University of California San Diego, Art Institute of California San Diego and Platt College San Diego.  Before Adobe, he worked for PayPal and Blackberry as a Developer Evangelist. He ran an interactive design agency working with corporate clients around the world.  Demian moved from Brazil to the United States in 2006.  He spends his free time with his wife and 2 children, enjoys surfing at the beach, and learning about everything.  

Lindsey Wallace, PhD

User Research Lead at Adobe XD

Joined Adobe in May 2016

Lindsey Wallace, Lead User Researcher at Adobe XD

Lindsey Wallace is an embedded UX researcher for Adobe XD CC.  She was the first user researcher on the team.  While her main focus is on XD, her work spans to other research departments within Adobe CC.  

Like many of her XD teammates, Lindsey travels to meet with design teams on a regular basis.   She performs ethnographic over-the-shoulder studies, to observe how they work and manage projects.  

Lindsey combines these observational research techniques with shorter contextual interviews. In a contextual interview, she spends one to two hours with a subject and asks them to walk her through a process.  She observes how they work with other people, who they work with, all the details involved, and their goals.


User Research at Adobe

The research process at XD evolved over time.  Lindsey works close with communities to get early feedback so they can iterate along the way.  She researches concepts as early as possible, then conducts lighter usability tests.  This way they tweak the product to meet the needs of the customer, rather than change everything at once.


Training Teams in User Research

As the product grows, the need for user research expands.  Over the past year, she and her team unlocked creative ways to scale research.  Lindsey works with design and product to help them optimize their research strategies.  She teaches them how to run research studies and about basic interviewing techniques.

As an anthropologist, Lindsey is passionate about studying people.  She works with her team to build in-depth knowledge of the cultures and practices of digital designers and how they work. This holistic approach helps the XD team add context to the feedback they get from the community. Lindsey also helped her colleagues level-up how they learn while engaging with customers.

As an anthropologist, Lindsey is passionate about studying people.  She works with her team to build in-depth knowledge of the cultures and practices of digital designers and how they work.


Lindsey Loves Design

Although Lindsey did not study design, it’s a big part of her life.  It would be tough to work for Adobe and not learn about design.  She’s surrounded by designers, reads articles, and reviews design surveys from Adobe.

Classic 1970s architecture books about patterns and timeless ways of building intrigues Lindsey.  She’s fascinated by why people choose to create things.  She also wants to know how culture influences design.  

Lindsey grew up in Seattle, but moved to San Francisco two and a half years ago.  She's finalizing her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  Lindsey didn't want to be a professor or stay in academia. In May 2016, Lindsey became a summer intern by word of mouth of a college friend.  Four months later, she transitioned into a full-time role.  Nowadays, Lindsey leads research for Adobe XD.

Jonathan Pimento

Senior Product Manager at Adobe XD

Joined Adobe in September 2013

Jonathan Pimento, Senior Product Manager at Adobe XD

Jonathan Pimento joined Adobe as an Experience Designer with an engineering background.  His degree in Computer Science gave him the perspective of an engineer.  But deep down he is a talented experience designer.  

Jonathan spent his first few years at Adobe designing web authoring tools for Adobe Edge CC, Adobe Animate CC, Adobe Dreamweaver CC, and Brackets.  Then in February 2016, he relocated from India to work on Adobe XD in San Francisco, CA.

Jonathan’s Role as a Product Manager

Nowadays, Jonathan is in the eye of the storm.  As a core member of the XD team, he manages deadlines across the product.  He stays on top of designers to make sure they are two months ahead.  He works with engineers to test product changes and meet deadlines.  When the beta is ready to push to the public, he collaborates with the marketing team. He reviews marketing materials to ensure the feature descriptions are accurate.  

Jonathan works with designers, engineers, marketers, and the localization team to keep everyone on top of deadlines and on the same page.


Localization and Globalization

Jonathan is everywhere!  He even works with the localization team to ensure XD translates properly in various languages.  As an international company, Adobe's products translate across the world in various languages.  It’s important to double check with care to make sure that all languages are accurate and make sense. It's shows that you care about people who use your products, no matter where they live.

Adobe XD CC onboarding screen in Korean

Adobe XD CC onboarding screen in French



The XD Team Loves to Learn

Left to right:  Jonathan Pimento, Senior Product Manager, Talin Wadsworth, Product Design Lead, and Lindsey Wallace, Lead User Researcher, plus Demian Borba, Strategic Development Manager for Adobe XD CC


All four people do a little bit of everything. Each of them:

  • Travel the world to meet with designers and product teams to study how they work
  • Work close with the community to test features
  • Make sure Adobe’s brand components are consistent across all Creative Cloud applications
  • Make sure that languages make sense translated around the world

Lindsey, Demian, Talin, and Jonathan all agree that XD is a company-wide effort that they are proud to be a part of.

Lindsey, Demian, Talin, and Jonathan all agree that XD is a company-wide effort that they are proud to be a part of. They are four people we chose to feature, but there are still many others who deserve recognition for their hard work and contributions to making Adobe XD the incredible platform that it is today.  

So what type of new features did Adobe announce recently? Let's take a closer look.

Part II:  What's New in Adobe XD CC?  

New XD Features Announced at AdobeMAX 2018

Voice Prototyping and UI Kit for Amazon Alexa

As a conversational UI enthusiast, the feature that impressed me the most was XD's newest ability to prototype voice interactions. Adobe XD is the first prototyping software to include voice triggers and speech playback to take users beyond the screen. The team also recently introduced a UI prototyping kit for Amazon Alexa. 👏

Plugins

The XD team has made it easier than ever to create a plugin for their platform. Anyone can build on top of the current platform, add features to the app, automate workflows, or connect to external services. All it takes is a little knowledge of Javascript, HTML, CSS, and JSON. For more information on how to build a a plugin for XD, visit adobexdplatform.com.

New Adobe XD Plugins

Here are a few of Adobe XD's featured plugins at Adobe MAX 2018.

  • Overflow:  An easy way to design, present, and share user flow diagrams. Designers love Overflow, and now it integrates into XD! Designed by proto.io.

  • Stark:  The Stark plugin includes a colorblind simulator and a contrast ratio checker so that your XD designs meet accessibility standards. Cat Noone and her team wants designers to create accessible, ethical and inclusive products for everyone.

  • CloudApp: This name sounds familiar. 🤔
    Export your mocks directly from Adobe XD CC into CloudApp. Use our new CloudApp for Adobe XD CC to quickly share screenshots of your artboard and export assets. Capture your work and send with a secure link.
  • Angle 2:  Meng To and his team from Design + Code are at it again!  They've created an easy way to place your screen into gorgeous perspective mockups. You can choose up to 500 mockups with hundreds of colors, styles, and angles. Best of all - it's now available for Adobe XD CC.

  • Google Sheets by Impekable: Import Google Sheets right into your XD doc. Create meaningful prototypes with real data. Led by Pek Pongpaet and the Impekable team.

  • Dribbble: Oh yes, a website I visit daily. Share your mocks instantly with the creative community at dribbble.com.

Checkout some of the new plugins for XD


Connect XD to your Favorite Apps and Services

You can now connect XD to Microsoft Teams, Jira, Slack, ProtoPie, Zeplin, and your favorite apps and services.

Linked Symbols

Now, when you make changes to a source file, you'll get a notification and have the option to accept updates.

Auto Animate

XD makes it simple to animate microinteractions across artboards. FYI, microinteractions are little design features that make a big difference. They guide the user through the application with subtle animations, such as a bouncing icon that gets your attention.

When you duplicate an element and change its properties (e.g. size, position, color etc.), XD automatically generate an animation and bridges the difference between the first and second image.

Easy Export and Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud Applications

Adobe Illustrator CC Integration

You can open Illustrator CC files into XD CC and it will automatically convert to an XD file, retain the artboards, layers and ability to edit.

Export XD to After Effects CC

Take your animations to the next level!  You can now export from Adobe XD to Adobe After Effects CC.

But wait.. There's more! 

Checkout all of Adobe XD's latest features at https://www.adobe.com/products/xd/features.html.

🎈 The CloudApp Plugin for Adobe XD CC is here! 🎈  

The CloudApp team just got back from AdobeMAX 2018. We released our plugin for Adobe XD CC and had a blast in the process. With V1 of this plugin you can quickly export and share a png from XD to CloudApp. Checkout the CloudApp for Adobe XD plugin today!

About the Author:  Andi Galpern

andi galpern, head of content at cloudapp
Andi Galpern
Head of Content and Design Education
at CloudApp

Andi Galpern is the Head of Content and Design Education at CloudApp. She is also the founder and producer of Cascade SF, an experience design organization in the Bay Area. Her events provide a go-to space for product designers to learn new skills, connect with industry leaders, mentor, and stay ahead of the job market. Everyone works together toward a more fulfilling career.

Since 2011, Andi has organized hundreds of design and technology events to bring communities together. She regularly works with designers around the world to help them create presentations and become leaders. Follow her on Twitter @andigalpern.

Thanks for reading and keep designing meaningful, beautiful, and accessible products.

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