Role: Lead Designer, 2019
I led research and design for the What's new component, and it was my first feature ship! We shipped across all of Adobe's flagship apps in 2019: Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and InDesign.
A table-stakes problem
In our 30+ years of existence, we didn't have a way to notify our users when we shipped a cool new feature (Neural Filters), changed part of a product, or improved something (unlimited CMD+Z in Photoshop)!
And that's where I came in. It became my job to design an experience that made it easy to learn about new features and drive engagement in our flagship apps (Ps, Ai, Pr, Ae, Id).
Testing is your best friend
So, what's unique about Adobe's features?
Our product life cycle revolves around Adobe MAX, which means we release features once or twice a year rather than all year round.
Our features are super visual 👀
We wanted the component to emulate the feeling you get when you're watching Scott Belsky showcase the features on the main stage. So, we ran studies with users featuring video on 3 different surfaces & entry points.
What's new is the only use case where a takeover (Option 1) didn't annoy the participants, but the sizable real estate was confusing.
Users liked that they could quickly glance at what was available before investing their time into it (Option 3). By highlighting the list, people were more likely to click on those that interested them.
"Cool doesn't equal useful." People preferred looking at actual UI rather than just flashy, good-looking images.
A link on the home screen that launches the component when needed: You can look at it at your own pace and time.
Cool doesn't equal useful
Adobe is a large company with many different products and services. When designing something new, it's imperative to think about scalability, component modularity, and content. Keeping the research top of mind, I created a framework for new feature onboarding that includes:
An easy to scan list featuring the top 4-6 features
Image or video showing how to use the feature
A link to deeper learning
Content is queen
The component features a prominent spot for a visual, and to prove out the initial framework, we needed to create the content ourselves.
5 apps, 5 features, in 4 different languages. Along with creating a total of 120 images, we developed a strong content creation and management pipeline in collaboration with product partners, vendors, and localization teams for any team at Adobe to seamlessly adopt and incorporate the framework into their apps.
The What's new framework is used across Adobe in all of our apps today across desktop, tablet, and mobile and is a system-wide component.
Apps can communicate the value of updates on an ongoing cadence in a predictable, visual manner.
The component has seen an average of 40%+ engagements and an 87% lift in new feature use for those who interacted with it.
This is core to helping users recognize the ongoing value of the subscription.
— Joel Baer, Design Manager for Photoshop