Photowalks, Team Documentation, & More.
So Many Projects
Often the criticism of working in large organizations is that you can't move fast and get things done. While I won't deny that can be true at times, I truly feel that we accomplished a lot from 2015 – 2018 on Adobe Stock. Perhaps at times we were even doing too much, too fast and additional focus on quality would have been beneficial. However, we were fortunate to have Adobe putting a lot of resources into our team.
I'm proud of our team and the amount of work we were able to ship, while also being able to experiment and sometimes even fail (and learn) with experimental concepts. When I mention my work at Adobe, I tend to focus on the Nav, Search, Filters project, and the work I did on Advanced Search Concepts. There's a few other items that I'll also mention briefly.
Below you'll find a few additional projects that are important to me. These include team photo walks, project planning, team documentation, the responsive design (Adobe Stock didn't support mobile when it launched), the Contributor Experience, where users upload content to sell, and the checkout experience redesign, where we simplified the process of buying and signing up for the first-month-free promotion.
Design Team Growth
For additional context, I should mention that our team started small and was covering several areas of the product. That's primarily why I have so many projects to mention. Over time, the design team grew and designers were then typically assigned to individual areas of the product.
I started a monthly photowalk event for a few reasons. For one, it gave us a good excuse to get outside of the office. But more importantly, it gave us the opportunity to drink. This is a joke. I'm joking. Okay, I'm “half-joking.” This was about photography and understanding our products.
Not only did we get a small group of designers, engineers, product managers, and people from outside our team together, it was an opportunity to examine Adobe's products and services. The purpose of this was also to understand the experience, or the “workflows” of our customers.
The photo walks consisted of taking a 90-minute walk through different areas of San Francisco, while snapping photos and chatting along the way. We typically ended the route at a bar, had some drinks, looked at some photos from the walk, and chatted about life.
The task for the days after the walk was to pick about 5-10 of your favorite shots you took, edit them in an Adobe application like Photoshop or Lightroom, then share them using Adobe's Creative Cloud assets service. This is a service similar to Dropbox for sharing files.
When working in such a large company, it can be hard to know about all the products and services we offer. By going through this workflow of editing, organizing, and ultimately sharing the files with others, we could examine how our products were meeting or falling short of the needs for those tasks. We also had some fun and learned about photography.
Photo Walk Goals
- Learn about photography
- Learn about our products (Lightroom, Adobe Creative Cloud Assets, etc.)
- Meet other Adobe designers
- Social interaction with design, product, engineering, and marketing
- Explore San Francisco
Team Docs & Project Plans
In 2016 the team was starting to grow and the list of links to documents, design files, and general Adobe corporate resources was huge. We needed to have this stuff organized and more accessible. Not only for daily use for people on the team, but also for future designers on the team.
I began compiling a “playbook” to document our team structure, goals, process, key contacts, design assets, and a thousand other things. This gave us one central point to start our search for a particular resource and it made onboarding new designers a more efficient process. It particularly became valuable for documenting previous research and usability studies. Being that it was created using Dropbox Paper, the entire document could be collaborative and we could evolve it as a team.
Look at this “designer” talking about project planning on a portfolio site. Riveting content. Project planning actually became something I excelled at, so of course I'm going to tell you all about it and how great I am. Coordinating and communicating project timelines and progress was a key part of the product design workflow on Adobe Stock.
I created a templated project plan document that consisted of the general topics that needed to be addressed, such as overall project goals, success metrics, and timelines. Again, by using Dropbox Paper we could make it collaborative and easily sharable. This was helpful for my manager to be able to take a look at what the plan was and what progress had been made. It was also helpful for me to be able to document design iterations and usability testing results.
The timeline section was especially useful when starting a project with a product manager. We could work backwards from when a feature was planned to ship. For example, if it needed to be shipped in three months, we could plan on dates for engineering hand-off, the final approval meeting, as well as usability testing, and review rounds with product management.
We should probably make this thing work on phones
I'll keep this brief. One of the first projects I worked on for Adobe Stock was the responsive design. When the site launched, it didn't work on mobile devices. in the winter of 2015/2016 we shipped a responsive design, along with additional UI updates and support for buying videos.
Adobe Stock launched using content (images, videos, etc.) from Fotolia, which Adobe had recently acquired. At launch, there wasn't actually a way for someone to upload their photos to sell on Adobe Stock. They were required to use the Fotolia site because nothing had been built for Adobe Stock yet. That all changed in 2016 when we launched Adobe Stock Contributor. I worked on the design of the experience for uploading content.
- Initial design of photo upload and tagging UI
- Prototyping (HTML, CSS, JS) for usability testing
Video of a great product manager
Morgan is a product manager for Adobe Stock Contributor.
Should purchasing be painful? This was a beast of a project, particularly for my product manager, but I'll keep the details brief here. The original checkout experience for Adobe Stock was rough. It involved several different screens, long forms, and logging into your Adobe account, which most people didn't know they had, or if they did, they didn't remember their password. We discovered a lot of these struggles in usability testing.
In 2016, we launched an updated checkout design that dramatically improved conversion rates and made the entire process much easier. Eventually, that same checkout experience was brought over to Adobe Typekit as well.
I was the primary designer for the checkout experience until 2017. It's not one of my favorite projects to share as a display of my design skills, however, it has such a direct impact on the business and it's an interface that handles large amounts of revenue everyday. So, it seems silly to not mention this one.