Adobe’s CTO on UX Design

Knowledge@Wharton recently interviewed Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s AIR apparent CTO, elevated to CTO earlier this year to make Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) the next disruptive tech platform. What’s in the secret sauce? Lots of UX, since that’s the first thing Lynch mentions at kickoff time:

Knowledge@Wharton: You were recently given the title of Chief Technology Officer at Adobe. How is that different from your previous role as Chief Software Architect?

Lynch: I’ll be involved more with Adobe overall in terms of our technology direction and the problems we are trying to solve; working across the different business units at Adobe. To some degree, I was already doing this in my previous role with the platform technology [unit at Adobe] because it touches so many of the other things that we do. This is formalizing that more.

In terms of my day-to-day activities, I’m continuing to work with the platform [group] and I’ll also be working with our design group called XD — Experience Design — to pull together our Experience Design and our platform efforts. They are obviously somewhat related — you can see a lot of great design in the Flex framework and in the applications we produce — but there’s more opportunity to build usability and best practices into our frameworks that we are learning from the XD group.

Lynch notes three disruptive technologies they are focused on – web applications, mobile computing, the ecosystems of social networks (and integration with directory management). But you knew that already.  But it is a good sign they are starting to lionize The Experience Design, even if they are overdoing it a bit on their promo pages. (I mean, do you ever see cool B&W shots of the software engineers that build the stuff? No, just designers, or now, as so many titles read, ‘experience designers”. Yes, but, do they know Human Factors?)

Adobe is still about tools for hot geeks, and not so much end user applications. But I have to admit, they finally took a big leap forward with the latest Reader, which was improved when some UX researchers noticed that people often select text, and right away, making that the default interaction mode when launching a PDF document.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Business design, Design ecology, User Experience

2 Comments on “Adobe’s CTO on UX Design”


  1. Thanks for the link to the interview with Kevin. The mention of UX does not sound like a fluke with Adobe. For example, when their then-President/COO (now CEO) was in NW Ohio in 2006, he talked a lot about user experience. See http://instone.org/narayenbgsumarch302006


  2. I agree Keith, Adobe has made significant strides in the last two years. Just the recent changes to the ubiquitous Reader (Real-time search, default gallery & default to Select mode) were important and clearly drawn from user research. It amazing how many everyday users of PDF files know very little of the features available – they’ve done a great job redesigning the toolbars and surfacing the right defaults.


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