The Rise of Experience Design | Adobe Chief Product Officer | Scott Belsky

okay now first of all in front of you
you’ve got about seven pairs of cords and all these lights that tell you where
the calls are coming from when the light goes on that means there’s someone
waiting there and you plug in and you ask them what they want do your arms get
tired? no, your mouth gets tired it’s the strangest you get tired of talking, where
you be talking with so long cuz you talk constantly for six hours, and it’s hard.
Keep going on this point. Well, you get to feel just like a machine you get to feel
just like a machine and and of course now that we look back at what Sharon was
doing not too long ago the job doesn’t exist anymore and it is a machine and
then you think about all these other professions today right that we likely
will look back on just like we look back on this role that Sharon played and
these will all be likely or many of them will be done by machines as well, there’s
this technologist named Kai Fuli who came out with a book just recently about
AI superpowers and and what AI will do to make new superpowers globally like
geopolitically, and there’s a lot of research to suggest that 40% of all jobs
will be done by AI and and the one area that he actually says is sacred from
from being disrupted by AI is in fact creativity, which I found very
interesting because this has been sort of you know my obsession for quite some
time is is empowering creative careers organizing the creative world at work
making products that help creatives be hopefully more efficient and more
productive and ultimately more creative and so I thought that this would be an
interesting thing to share with you some early thoughts around this because I get
asked a lot around about AI and about how the future of design and creativity
are changing so what is the future role of creativity and design how is this all
changing so as we alluded to and vitaly was here helping us save time or you
know not notice time passing I guess Behance
was a it was just a small little New York City
Tech outfit back in 2006 trying to help organize the creative world and and the
platform is now over 18 million creatives around the world showcasing
their work and getting discovered and building careers empowering their
websites and all along the way the the mission of Behance has been to help
foster attribution in the creative world help people get opportunity and
ultimately help nourish creative careers over the years there have been a couple
books that have all been about either creative teams that are especially
productive and understanding what we can learn from them as well as what we can
learn from the middle of bold creative journeys and how people kind of stick
with it long enough to figure it out and now in this role as chief frog officer
at Adobe I’m trying to fix a lot of things so stay tuned anything that
you’re annoyed by hopefully will be fixed all right just trust me there’s a
lot of good stuff coming but also it’s it’s really about thinking around the
future of a lot of these flagship segments products like Photoshop and a
Premiere Pro and Lightroom and a character animator and and etc and After
Effects and how they all interoperate and also new mediums of technology like
augmented reality virtual reality and voice and everything else and there is a
lot of AI that we’re investing in to help serve the creative process as well
and so I am I am seeing a lot of this from you know the lens through the last
15 years or so is is is is is forming my opinion and I am happy to report that
I’m really optimistic for us I think there’s never been a better time
to be a creative and and I wanted to share just a few thoughts and and first
of all make this argument as to why I think this is and so I’ll start with a
an argument to that for a long time we’ve been living in this era of what I
like to call productivity scarcity so there’s just more and more stuff to do
you know more and more cords to plug in and plug out more and more things to
write and transcribe and transpose and everything else and in order to be
productive and to be successful we just invested in productivity so we invested
in productivity by throwing people at the problem we invested in productivity
by finding ways to get techno to do the stuff for the people so that
we could all apply our human energy energy towards higher order tasks but it
was always about productivity and just look about look about the history of
Microsoft and deploying productivity apps in the enterprise I mean this is
this is all about capitalizing on the era of productivity scarcity but now we
are reaching this interesting point where it seems that an investment in
their that machines are actually definitely providing more productivity
gains than people and in some ways productivity is now being commoditized
because there’s often a machine that can do that and when there’s a machine that
can do that and the costs become efficient enough you know that ends up
being the choice of many companies and many industries and so I think what
we’re doing is we’re entering into this new zone that I like to call the era of
creativity where the return on creativity exceeds the return spent on
incremental productivity because of AI especially and these machines being so
incredibly powerful now actually an incremental minute of our time being
more creative can yield more return that incremental minute of our time trying to
figure out how to be more productive and so I would actually argue that in some
weird way creativity is the new productivity and everything that we were
trying to do with productivity over centuries if not the past few decades
it’s now going to shift to creativity instead of deploying productivity apps
to everyone in every company we’re gonna start deploying creative apps to
everyone every company so they can stand out they can actually do things express
themselves in compelling visual ways etc etc so what are the implications for the
design community and for creatives in general and and so I had like five or so
thoughts just wanted to throw by you and hopefully plant some seeds and and start
more conversation after this one of them is the fact that I think there will be
you know million X more creators and they’ve ever been before now when you
hear that it’s like whoa wait what are all these people gonna do how are they
going to put food on the table this doesn’t make sense you know what would
actually be the what would be the tectonic shifts that would enable this
to happen three things in particular one is the opportunity fueled by attribution
so if you think about even the power of a creative age
see 10 or 20 years ago everything that was done was done by presumably by an
agency that typically hired a smaller agency that typically engaged
headhunters who typically went out and found the actual individual creative
professionals wherever they are in the world to do the work and did those
actual people ever get the attribution for the work that they did no I hope
that platforms like LinkedIn behance Tribble many others are helping foster
attribution where there wasn’t any and also the culture of people without being
allowed to put stuff in their portfolios I mean there’s a lot of things that are
changing that are enabling people to start getting attribution and hires or
people who are looking for talent trying to figure out who did what and that’s
the real tectonic change that is accelerating another shift here is the
opportunity fueled by distribution I mean think about what it took many years
ago for a creative person to get their work distributed I mean you had to know
somebody you had to have an agent you had to work with just a handful of
studios or somehow get on TV and now of course with YouTube and and and
SoundCloud and and patreon and and and Vimeo and the Netflix and all these you
know new streaming services I mean there’s just a plethora of distribution
opportunities for all of us and that is definitely expanding the opportunity for
creatives in general but the one I’m most interested in is this new change on
the consumer side for more and more consumption of creativity and if you
look through your Instagram and you just notice all of these finely tuned not
only ads but brands for you it’s just amazing how many thousands and thousands
of micro brands are popping up to try to give everyone the thing that they’ve
always wanted like them personally and it’s not just for brands of products
it’s also content if you go to someone in the middle of the country and you
look at their Netflix account chances are they’ll have different things are
watching different things than their recommended list there’s an actual
really long tail of content being created and and and distributed on these
streaming platforms that is like very niche very very niche and I think that
trend is going to continue and and then personalized experiences I mean we all
expect now to personalized experiences with the brands
that we interact with and that takes a lot of content so I think that the
opportunity for creatives is is exploding is exploding in large part
because of the consumer desire for it I mean it’s another company that just
launched out of Y Combinator called the custom movement when they’re basically
buying new shoes they’re getting artists to customize these shoes and then
they’re selling them to end consumers and it’s exploding because everyone
seems to want something that is unique and customized by an artist in between
it’s a great trend that I’m excited about so another reason why this is all
littell and for us and in the future is good for creatives is is that I think AI
will liberate us now ai is not going to liberate everyone and in fact part of
this is an argument for more people that are in other jobs that are at risk to to
to be trained in creativity and to come over to the creative disciplines in some
way but for designers and for creatives ai is truly the wind at our back and let
me explain a few reasons why so first of all how many reformatting tasks do we
have to do for our customers clients or products all the time you know new sighs
phones new size screens new size different different sort of desires for
a responsive experiences watch apps you know there’s just so many new formats
and ad sizes and it just keeps coming and coming and coming in which case
there’s this like Content velocity problem we’re all trying to keep up with
essentially non creative tasks of just reorganizing elements in order to to
send them through in a different channel and this is something that I truly
believe a I should be doing for us and there are a lot of experiments now and
there’s some betas of plug-ins in Photoshop for example in other places
that do this we just launched slimming Adobe XD called Auto layout which is
just going to allow people to reformat automatically using artificial
intelligence that knows where to reposition all of the attributes of a
design the other the other thing here is just around the mundane repetitive labor
that we do so we’ve done some studies in our user research team at Adobe with
customers and we firmly believe that 40 to 50 % of someone’s time in Photoshop
is spent doing this complete repetitive mundane stuff whether it’s masking
something or doing something repeated over and over and over like why
shouldn’t the tool know that if you do this six thing these six things in a row
and you’re 99% likely to do the next seven steps why should it just show you
a preview of that and let you click that so you can then jump ahead in your
process and skip all the mundane and repetitive stuff that you’re doing along
the way if we do this what happens AI really starts to unleash our
creativity because it ends up starting to just kind of replace all the stuff
that was just productivity stuff and allows us to spend more time on looking
at something in an entirely new way you know seeing a mistake of the eye and
following it and and all the other stuff that is related to genuine you know
genuine innovation so a third thought a third thought is that design can no
longer be siloed and I mean this in in two respects you know one in the sense
that design has historically and in many companies been this small team that is
almost treated like an internal agency stuff has just thrown over the wall or
these designers are summoned to make something look beautiful right at the
end and we all know that that the error of that is is is quickly and happily
slipping away design has become the competitive advantage of many products
and services and experiences and the smartest companies are empowering
designers to work have a seat at the table be leaders of the company if not
the product and and so design is you know in in the center which is both a
opportunity as well as our responsibility it also means that uh
that we have to rethink how to get more people included in design so you know
the first part of this problem is that everyone wants in now now everyone wants
to look over your shoulder everyone wants to have a say and that’s not so
comfortable what we have to think about is how do we make design how do we
evolve design to include more stakeholders and how do the technology
how did the tools that we actually use accommodate these stakeholders how do
you permission them you know how do you make sure you can have a perfect
experience to work alongside an engineer or a c-suite executive who wants to know
the future of her/his product or a reviewer or copy editor or that
kind of thing and so there’s a lot of tools out there thinking through this
but we have to embrace these ways of working because everyone does want a say
and smart companies will actually engage designers and hire designers that want
to be inclusive because that’s if design is a competitive advantage everyone does
in fact have to have a stake in the game to some degree I also think that we look
forward and will and look at the best design teams in the world you know a
decade from now they will prioritize a few things more than ever before
coordination so this idea of everyone working off of the same the same base
the same design system I think that every design team will have a design ops
group within it that is focused specifically on fine-tuning the design
system making sure that it is flexible enough it is always updated and that
people can contribute to it with ease but also that it is it is structured
enough that it can really coordinator large group of people and partners and
all these stakeholders again that want to say I think that the best design
teams will mandate consistency across the organization we all know that the
best brands in the world are consistent they are consistent in every format and
every place they show up and every interaction to experience that customers
have with them and we’ll get to immersive in a second but it’s going to
open up a whole suite of challenges in brand consistency once we’re living in
this augmented reality world and then the best design systems will also be
very empowering people will be able to join a team quickly or be an adjunct
member of the team and get started and be successful from day one and and
that’s it’s a it’s an exciting challenge to craft this design system technology
that enables it I mean what we did at Adobe instead of trying to say okay
let’s build the tool what we decided to do is actually solve it for our cut our
customer zero first meaning us and so a few years ago we created this thing
called Adobe spectrum and we actually put a whole team including engineers and
product people on building a design system that would work across dozens of
products and 20,000 people and and not as what’s given birth to things like
these Creative Cloud libraries that soon will announce interact into
party tools as well and and but we tried to kind of solve it for ourselves first
eat our own dog food if you will and and we’re well on our way there so another
thing that we have to be excited about but also take as a responsibility is
preparing for these new mediums ahead and it’s interesting I’ve tried to
better understand the history of Adobe in my new role there and it’s and on
also just the history of digital and it’s interesting how you had this mass
of graphic designers and print designers largely using illustrator and InDesign
and this thing called the web came around and a lot of them are like no no
no no I’m a purist like I’m not going to touch this digital crappy UI stuff like
you know this is not interesting to me and of course we had to help a lot of
designers embrace the web and we did that through a series of technologies
over the years whether it be Dreamweaver different products acquired through
macro media and then and then of course you know web design web designers had to
then go into mobile and we all of us at least remember when a responsive web
design became a thing you know and then mobile apps then the question was how do
we adapt if we were doing on web to mobile etc and so these migrations
happen and it’s super interesting to see the people who are the the first
adopters than the laggards and the technologies that help people make the
leap so what’s next I mean certainly certainly voice is is one area that
we’re really excited about so we we are all interacting these days more and more
at least with voice apps of some kind whether it be Siri or Alexa or whatever
else we’re asking your car to do something interacting with some some
voice bot when you ask for support from some brand or whatever else but that’s
like the sort of the first generation it’s interesting it was recently
explained to me that there’s three major problems to solve with voice the first
is interpreting what is being said and knowing like the actual words like
translating them into into some understanding or at least knowing the
actual words you’re saying and that we’re like 97 98 percent accuracy and
apparently human transcriptionists are about 25 percent so
that part is already better than humans in the last part I’ll skip to first is
the is the is the response like the voice response based on what you asked
that’s also pretty good these days but the middle part of figuring out what the
actual words you said really means like what what it actually means about your
intentions like what are you actually asking and it turns out that when you’re
being told by a lecture or something I didn’t quite understand that it’s not
saying to you that they didn’t understand the words you said that’s
they didn’t understand your intention like it doesn’t map with something in
the system that would gauge a response so that’s the part where there was a lot
of work to be done but there are ton of new design principles that I think are
yet to be developed in in voice and it’s one reason why the the TD XD team
actually leaned forward and the voice prototyping as we think that there’s a
lot of innovation in that space to to explore the one I’m most excited about
is the immersive opportunity I have been in the meet in the meetings with Google
and Facebook and Apple and magic leap and and and a few others and and one
thing is Adam is really clear to me regardless of who wins and whether we’re
all wearing these glasses someday or whatever this new medium will fall flat
if isn’t enriched with your content and that’s always been the case for web and
mobile too right it’s when creators start to create for that medium is when
that new medium comes alive what do we know about this new medium of immersive
first of all everything that’s in it will need to be animated and interactive
just like when we see things on the web or on mobile we don’t expect them to be
animated interactive because they’re just elements they’re just elements on a
page still it might be a digital page but it’s still a page but when you’re
actually interacting with 3d objects around you wearing glasses or some-some
or holding up your phone you’re going to expect that as you approach it it’s
going to start to turn or grow or do something it’s going to welcome you it’s
going to be animated and anything that sits stagnant like this and it will just
be completely boring and unusual in this world of immersive experiences the
reason why I would go and say that it’s going to be bigger than the web is
because today we only engage with our screens when we have an intention when
we want to do something but when you’re walking down the street with glasses
you’re gonna see superimposed I’ll be the reality experience
around you at all times so inherently it will be much bigger than the web because
it will always be a lens that we can look through and feel informed and feel
guided and everything else and so it’s a really exciting space we we launched
something called project arrow that is how it’s made to actually help people
who are in Photoshop and illustrator and products like that start to bring what
they make into 3d and automatically give it the give it the characteristics you
would expect in 3d and there’s a lot more coming on that front so the last
thing I’ll just leave you with which i think is is exciting but is also a
challenge and something that we all have to do as stewards of design and and
being and especially those of us that are more senior in in roles and our
companies in our communities is thinking about the next generation my goodness
you know we we we have an industrial revolution driven education system and
and and still so much of design and art is is limited to an art class
or some sort of thing taught one period a day or usually just one period a week
in some schools and it’s just nuts to me you know if we know where the world is
going and we know that in order for people to be successful in their careers
they’re gonna have to know how to stand out they’re gonna have to know how to do
things that are less about productivity and incremental return on their time for
productivity and more for things that are creative you know things that make
people look twice everyone in an organization is gonna have to be able to
make a compelling argument more compellingly they’re gonna have to
visually express themselves in new ways data is gonna have to be showing through
infographics and new ways you know this is how humans are gonna stand out and
have jobs and we’ve got to prepare these kids so I like the term creative
literacy because literacy has been a historic in a focal point in the
curriculum of every single kid you know probably around the world just making
them literate so creative literacy I think is what it’s all about now and I
think we all have to be active participants in that to fight for the
cause that you know creativity may in fact be more important than calculus
I’ll leave you with that thank you you


  1. Ai is already better at abstraction than human. If creativity is just mixing up things ai will be great at it soon. And designers going to be unemployed soon because ai is better working with huge data and can give quality personalized experience based on usage. Future web and software going to have fluid designs that will evolve according to user. Many creative individuals are unemployed even without ai taking over the industry. The most rational job to pursuit is creating ai patents or learn how to sell stupid useless things. Do you think anyone should get a job over ai just by knowing which color or musical chord progressions works better with what mood.

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