Design

Adobe Max ’21: Design Tech is Changing How Content is Made

This year’s Creativity Conference unveiled a host of process-morphing technologies


Adobe MAX 2021 is the premier conference for early-adopters looking to take advantage of the latest design technology, but there were important takeaways this year for content marketers of all stripes — whether you specialize in editorial, strategy, distribution or, yes, even sales.

Our design team attended a host of sessions and culled these four themes from this year’s conference:

1. Maximize collaboration

A soon-to-be-released feature of Adobe’s Creative Cloud will be “shared workspaces.” Rather than downloading files, making changes, uploading files, then pinging someone for a time to review, designers will be able to log into the workspace from wherever they are and work on a file at the same time, with changes being reflected in real time. Think Google Docs, but for design files. The benefits to the design team are obvious, but what about to the rest of the marketing team?

Not only will this give a jolt of speed to the design process, it will allow reviewers the opportunity to jump into a live work session. The strategist or editorial lead can join a session midstream to answer a question or give preliminary feedback, then drop and let the designers get back to work. How many meetings will disappear from calendars?

2. Maximize motion

Adobe is working on a slew of plug-ins that will make adding basic animation and interactivity a breeze. If a designer is working on an infographic, rather than try to describe the to-be-added-later animation with cryptic cursor movement and hand gestures, the designer can add the movement with a few clicks in the first draft. This will also allow creative to present animation options without sinking valuable hours.

Using these techniques will help instill confidence among creatives and stakeholders and can help get sign-off on animation earlier in the process. The result is wins across the board, as no one is left wondering if they “really get it” while they wait for later iterations.

3. Maximize tools

Until now, it’s been a truism that designing, illustrating or photo editing on a mobile device is a waste-of-time no-no. Only in recent years have tablets been able to truly do what laptop and desktop hardware can. But that’s all about to change.

Tools like Spark now not only let creatives create social graphics, web pages, and short videos on phones — you can then save to the Creative Cloud and pick up where you left off when you sit down to your desktop. It’s like the Nintendo Switch, but for designers! Quality in-browser Photoshop is another example of how designing on the go is becoming a reality.

For the team at large, this will translate to creatives being able to work when the thought or inspiration strikes. Fewer ideas will get lost in the shuffle, and your design team can concept ideas faster — which means those concepts will make it to reviewers faster.

4. Maximize relationships

I can comfortably speak for designers when I say: it is much to our chagrin that the question “What is the business benefit of design?” is still being asked. But apparently it is. And the answer should be clearer than ever. Design possibilities are changing, skillsets are improving, and tools are evolving. This necessarily means how marketing teams work with designers will change.

As we update our processes, it’s to everyone’s benefit that design has a prominent role from beginning to end. In a world that’s growing more visual by the day, content that places design in a secondary “after-the-fact” role will increasingly fall flat, while content that includes design at every stage and leverages this new tech will rise above the noise.

With great (design) power comes great (content) responsibility

In a nutshell, this all means table stakes are going up. As the ability to add motion, movement and interactivity increases, so will your audience’s baseline expectations. You need designers at the table from day one of a project because you need a team who understands this new arsenal you have at your disposal. Snazzy tech used for its own sake does nothing but make your content look corny and empty. Designers know when motion and movement are meaningful, and when they add value, add to the experience and help your content achieve your objectives. These new tools are incredibly exciting, but it’s on us as content marketers to strategically implement them. Our audiences (and stakeholders) will thank us.