Every day at CloudApp, we meet talented individuals who awe and inspire us. We feel that professionals who create the products we love should get more attention. We started a new series to learn about these “Unsung Heroes” who impact our lives with their creativity and ingenuity. At CloudApp, we are more than a platform for productivity. We spotlight and learn from people who define the future.
Last month we flew to New York City to meet with Khoi Vinh, Principal Designer at Adobe. Khoi leads Adobe's Design Practices group, where he connects with designers around the world to stay on top of trends, give talks, and understand the latest technological developments. Before Adobe, Khoi was Design Director for The New York Times. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, NY and writes on subtraction.com, a widely-read blog about design and technology.
We were lucky to interview Khoi and learn about his day-to-day work at Adobe and what inspires him in 2018. Most of Khoi's work is for Adobe XD, Adobe's UX and UI app for digital product designers. Adobe is going full-force with their initiative to help product designers create seamless user experiences for apps, websites, and technology. Read this article to get a sneak-peak on Khoi's work. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Meet Khoi Vinh
• Principal Designer at Adobe
• Leads Adobe’s Design Practices Group
• Former Design Director for The New York Times
• Shares thoughts and ideas on subtraction.com
Q&A with Khoi Vinh
Describe your current position at Adobe.
I'm a Principal Designer at Adobe. I spend a lot of my time out in the field with customers at conferences to learn what happens in the design industry. I bring that back and try to marry it with our roadmap for Adobe XD, our new design and prototyping tool for UX/UI designers. This way we're building exactly what our customers want.
How big are the Adobe offices in New York City and San Francisco?
The Adobe XD team is big. There's a decent number of folks here in New York and San Francisco. But it's hard to say exactly how big because XD is more than just a product. It's a whole platform, and then it touches all these other parts of Adobe, all these other parts of Creative Cloud. There are folks who work on services to impact the performance and user experience of Adobe XD. Then there are people who work on interoperability with other apps. XD is a big priority and a sizable effort for Adobe.
What types of projects do you work on within Adobe XD?
I do all kinds of things at Adobe XD. I spend time with customers at conferences, work on roadmaps, and strategize partnerships within the industry. I always ask myself “What features, products, or companies compliment what designers need in the industry today?” Ultimately, any project that focuses on how to better serve the designer is a project that I'm likely to touch at some point.
Are there any particular ideas, trends, or advancements that influence your work?
Right now, we spend a lot of time thinking about design systems. We want to help designers create comprehensive frameworks for their brand, their interactions, libraries, and for all of the components that are necessary to create a cohesive product.
We want to make implementing design systems as natural and as frictionless as possible. We focus on taking out all of the drudgery of assembling one, maintaining one, keeping design systems up to date, and making that as painless as possible.
"Right now, we spend a lot of time thinking about design systems."
– Khoi describes his work at Adobe XD
Khoi’s Design Process & Productivity Tips
What's your favorite part of the design process?
My favorite part of design is when I have an idea, and I’m able to spend two or three or six or eight uninterrupted hours, really fleshing it out, trying to bring it to life as quickly as I can, either by myself or with other team members. The initial incubation period is the most exciting period for me. All the rest of it is important too. But when I get to bring a new idea into the world for the first time—that's really, really, exciting.
What productivity tips save you time and improve your focus?
For me, the best productivity tip is to write everything down. I capture everything I need to do in a task manager. As soon as something comes to my head that I want to do during the day, I write it down no matter how big or small it is. It helps me clear space in my head to focus on the best part of the job: designing.
Can you tell us about the tools and apps you use on a day to day basis?
I use Adobe XD, of course, for all of my design work. But there's a whole range of other apps that complement that, from Google Docs to Dropbox to even Pinterest. I definitely use CloudApp a lot to share internally, with friends, with the world at large.
What do you find most exciting about technology design in 2018?
Voice is particularly exciting to me because that paradigm can be applied everywhere. You can imagine voice in everything.
I’m also interested in machine-learning and artificial intelligence. As a designer, what gets me really pumped is the idea of taking these new technologies and creating tools so that the new medium is accessible, applicable, and malleable for everyday designers. I think that's going to be a tremendous new stage in design.
How do you stay inspired?
I stay inspired by talking to our customers and people who are front and center of design and technology. I enjoy working with customers and internal groups to learn how they use our products and other products. There is so much change happening in the industry right now. It’s important for us to stay close to the wants and needs of designers, so we can create tools to make their work useful and effective.
Talking to other designers is great fodder for me to continue to get excited about the job. I learn how design is changing and how this affects our job as a designer. I’m naturally energized by all of the interesting stuff happening in design today. It fuels me and keep me excited about the future.
Khoi Loves CloudApp
How often do use CloudApp? What do you use it for?
I use CloudApp a dozen times a day to share with my coworkers, my friends around the world, and my family. CloudApp is an indispensable tool because it’s easy and fast to share anything from my computer.
What's your favorite feature of CloudApp?
My favorite feature of CloudApp is being able to capture something in the clipboard, upload it with a keyboard shortcut and then immediately getting that link back so I can paste it into Slack, an e-mail or what have you. And all that can happen in a second or two at most. That immediacy makes life so much easier for me.
Would you recommend CloudApp?
Yeah. I tell everybody I know about CloudApp because it's so easy to use. It's so easy to share something, and it's also so easy for people to access once you share that link. People know exactly what to do with it. And there's never any question.
“I tell everyone about CloudApp because it’s so easy to use.”
– Khoi Vinh, Principal Designer at Adobe
Thank you, Khoi!
Thank you, Khoi for sharing your time, insights and perspective on UX and technology. We enjoyed learning from you and we’re excited to see all of the new developments for Adobe XD.
Adobe XD, is an all-in-one UX/UI solution to design websites, mobile apps, and more. You can download Adobe XD for free on Mac or PC.