Just a few days ago we launched a brand new look for Adobe XD. This isn’t a redesign of the app (yet) or a retooling of the experience. Rather, you can think of it as a new suit of clothes for a product that has grown by leaps and bounds since its version 1.0 launch nearly three years ago. You can get a sense of this new look on our website and below, in this video we’ve created to show it off.
In a way, XD is constantly being redesigned. With each of our monthly releases we add new features large and small, which further evolve and improve the experience of the app. And we’re constantly tweaking existing patterns and behaviors across Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and web, all based on what we hear and learn from the wonderful community of designers, clients and stakeholders who use the product.
That state of constant refinement and expansion has resulted in a much broader canvas than anyone anticipated back when XD was just a pilot project in the halls of Adobe. Now, in addition to the desktop, mobile and web apps, XD manifests itself in demo videos and tutorials, in emails and display ads, in community events and social media posts, and everywhere from YouTube to Slack, and much more.
Colloquially we refer to any place where people come into contact with any form of XD as a “surface.” Maintaining consistency and cohesion across surfaces is always hard work. But as XD has skyrocketed, the sheer volume of these surfaces and the number of people involved in their upkeep has only made this more challenging. Today, how XD presents itself might look, feel or even behave differently depending on where you encounter it.
For a design team that’s all about helping other designers create expressive, systemic and consistent design solutions, you can imagine that this inconsistency across surfaces is something we’ve wanted to address for a long time. A long time! Now we’re doing something about it.
You might expect the process for developing this new look would start with careful research or even an intuitive design exploration. We certainly did all of those things, but the real first step was forging a new kind of collaboration between design and marketing. For a still young product in today’s crowded design tooling category, it’s more important than ever to be sure that what’s being designed (and built) is in sync with what’s happening in the marketplace. The deep insight that our marketing team brought to bear was invaluable, and it also helped us to dovetail this effort with the major refresh of the Adobe brand that launched earlier this year. What resulted was an outcome that would have been impossible otherwise: a new, highly individualized aesthetic that drafts off of Adobe’s new brand direction, and that, we believe, will help XD resonate even more strongly and unmistakably with audiences than ever before.
You can see this in the core elements of this new look. First, we established a distinctive color palette that expands on the color scheme of the XD identity as defined by the Creative Cloud ecosystem, filling it out with rich reds, steel greys and a dark blue and an electric blue—plus a carefully calibrated gradient.
That color palette drives a unique grid pattern, which itself is a visual representation of the kind of expressive systems that XD excels at. The grid pattern is used only as an under-layer, though, rarely ever in the foreground, because the hero images of our new look are the work product of UX/UI everywhere: buttons, cards, toolbars, search fields, catalog views and more, all shown as enlarged, dimensional close-ups.
These hero illustrations are what you’ll see when XD is trying to grab your attention or showcase its wares, but of course they’re not right for every instance where we might need imagery. Just as often it’s necessary to demonstrate or teach key features or important concepts. In these cases, we developed a secondary vocabulary: economical “spot illustrations” made up of uncomplicated primitive shapes and simplified interface elements, all dressed up in the same signature color palette.
The hope is to shine a spotlight on the craft of product design and elevate the work that designers do. (All of this, of course, is codified in a design system within XD itself, as well as in a Creative Cloud Library that brings together work and collaborators from Photoshop, Illustrator and more apps.)
In the coming weeks and months, you’ll start to see this aesthetic show up in more and more places: Adobe XD on your desktop, social media, community events (virtual and—hopefully soon—IRL again!), videos, and on lots of other surfaces. Hopefully, before too long, you’ll recognize XD immediately from these distinctive illustrations or from the patterns or perhaps even from just the colors. Right now, the best place to see this new look in action is our website, which is the result of countless hours of bespoke design and development work from an amazing group of people across several teams. It’s fully decked out with a ton of new animations and illustrations that tell the XD story in rich detail, and it’s the best representation yet of where XD is headed. We hope you like it.