Today the Adobe XD team is kicking off a little experiment - designing a set of apps in public. We call them The People's Apps. Michael Gough VP of Experience Design shares his thoughts on what Participatory Design means and invites you to check out our Work In Progress on Behance.
"When I studied architecture Participatory Design was all the rage. The architect Charles Moore was in vogue, and in the middle of his career he became a strong proponent of replacing the architect’s egocentric approach with an approach that emphasizes an open engagement with the people that the project is being created to serve. It was good for the built environment that his stylistic convictions, post modernism, never took root, but his convictions that it is better to design with than simply for has taken hold - especially in product design fields.
We are constantly looking for ways to keep the people that we are designing for at the center of the work, and employ many techniques to do so. Usability reviews, beta testers and limited releases are just a few ways that we get what we are trying to do in the hands of the people we are doing it for before we commit. But in general, either by need or convention, we still try to be relatively quiet about what we are working on. And what we do show is often far enough along that only minor refinements are possible. Designing in the open doesn’t come naturally to large technology companies.
But there might be more to gain than to lose in designing with the community that the products will serve. More and more companies are adopting more open approaches, if only for the benefit of sounding more in tune with their customers. Companies like Ubunto and Mozilla have embraced openness. Elon Musk of Tesla is supposed to be publishing his open source Hyperloop any day now. IDEO, among the king of design trends, have a site dedicated to open design practices.
So we thought we would do our own experiment in open design. Our Experience Design team (XD) at Adobe, an internal design practice of 100+ focused on creating the next generation of digitally enabled experiences, is conceptualizing a few applications for anyone who wants to create. We call them The People’s Apps. Although we are pretty good at designing for professional creatives, we aren’t always as confident when we are designing for the masses. We are certainly doing some good work in that space (check out the latest release of Revel) but we want to do much more. So we decided to kick off the design of The People’s Apps in public. What that means right now is that we will post our designs on a regular basis on Behance.
We want to learn from the community and will keep track of the communities' comments and use them to drive design decisions. We won’t be asking for design help but we will take it when we get it. Right now we have a little stage fright - but I think we will get past it. You can visit and comment on our first unveiling here."
As Adobe's VP of Experience Design, Michael’s global XD team spans architects, academics, sculptors, DJs, writers, designers and engineers with expertise ranging from interaction and visual design to research, information architecture and programming. A long-time design evangelist and advocate for the next generation of creatives, Michael has been pushing the envelope with disruptive designs and technology innovation for years. Prior to joining Adobe, he was Chief Creative Officer at Macromedia and served as VP of Brand Design at Nike.