AMA: The team behind Adobe's design system, Spectrum

4 months ago from Shawn Cheris, Director of Experience Design - Brand & Experience

  • Cassie McDaniel, 4 months ago

    Clearly Adobe is in the design business. :) What does the Spectrum team see as the impact of releasing this design system on the industry as a whole? How do you think other corporate systems (like Material Design) have changed the industry?

    10 points
    • Garth BraithwaiteGarth Braithwaite, 4 months ago

      First and foremost, we hope this positively impacts internal and third-party developers to ensure Adobe’s product ecosystem is serving designers and engineers working on our products and extensions.

      Corporate systems have certainly changed the industry and influenced the evolution of design systems. They provide a common platform for design and engineering to create cohesive and intuitive products, and they have also helped to provide insight and inspiration for others. Design systems aim to solve very complex problems in terms of design, engineering, process, resources, and more. Seeing what large companies do and how they try to answer these common problems helps the community as a whole better understand the issues and potential solutions.

      6 points
    • Shawn Cheris, 4 months ago

      I'll take that in reverse order. First off, Google. We were actually a couple of years into our work on Spectrum when Material came out. Speaking for myself, I feel like the Material Style Guide was a huge Design Achievement on it’s own terms. And I think the language itself did a really admirable job solving for it’s area of focus: (mostly) lightweight apps on Android on a phone or tablet. We met with the Material team a number of times in the early days and I think we all found we had a lot in common in terms of how we thought about the work and the experience of selling something like that to a big company.

      That said, sometimes we’re pretty jealous of companies who are solving design systems in a more focused, specific way. It’s great that you solved for your one app across three platforms with a brand new tech stack, but that’s NOT the kind of problem we are dealing with. We’re dealing with 100+ products across six surfaces, three(+) customer verticals and dozens of code bases spanning decades.

      But that unique challenge has forced us to solve our needs with some uniquely abstract approaches. And Adobe is a company that makes design tooling, too. So I think you’ll start to see some of what we’ve learned make its way into products like Xd very soon.

      Releasing the Spectrum language is mostly about empowering our developer community and business partners to more easily build plugins, extensions, and integrations and to bolster our growing platform for developers. We also hope that designers might find value in some of the tough problem we’ve solved for, but we don’t have millions of people building stuff on Adobe’s platform (yet!).

      10 points
      • Cassie McDaniel, 4 months ago

        awesome answers, thanks!

        3 points
      • Garth BraithwaiteGarth Braithwaite, 4 months ago

        We also get to help products that joined through acquisitions (i.e., Magento, Allegorithmic, etc.) that have their own platforms, 3rd party contributors, and tech stacks.

        2 points
        • Shawn Cheris, 4 months ago

          (And each of those are an opportunity for us to learn and add to the richness of Spectrum.)

          2 points