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

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

  • , 8 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, 8 months ago

      awesome answers, thanks!

      3 points
    • Garth BraithwaiteGarth Braithwaite, 8 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
      • , 8 months ago

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

        2 points