UX Design for the Future: HP’s JD Knight Talks The Future of UI, Smartphones, and AR


by Marc Schenker

posted on 12-08-2017

UX design is undergoing many interesting transformations. With new smartphone capabilities, such as the latest iPhones being integrated with AR, designers have more freedom than ever to create. Trends come and go, but great design lives forever.

We caught up with HP’s creative director of rich media development, JD Knight, to ask him where he believes the future of UX design is headed. He also shared some invaluable insights into what it takes to succeed in smartphone design, as well as how Adobe has shaped his design career.

How did you get started in UX design?

I’m a traditional artist, doing drawing, painting, photography, and video production throughout my life before computer-drawing and video-editing software ever existed. As Adobe came on the scene with Photoshop, I became familiar with drawing and creating art on the computer in the early 90s.

My career at HP began in 2007. I was initially tasked with creating a UI for help animations on a printer’s front displays and for help on the HP website. Since then, I have worked on a multitude of UI/UX for printer firmware and various mobile apps. I continue to create internal and external videos and prototypes for hardware and software.

HP’s JD Knight works in Adobe XD.

I’m currently in our GXD (Global Experience Design) department, as part of their Advanced Strategy group. We are tasked with creating the future of HP Design for Hardware and Software, for all HP Printing groups, and Consumer and Enterprise Printing, including 3D Printing. Most anything the consumers see, we work on, from printer packaging to industrial design of printers to the mobile apps that run our various printers.

What big trends/best practices do you see in UX/UI right now?

I think we’re still in a flat icon trend with brighter, happy color palettes seeming to be more dominant. This changes depending on the type of business. I always see this, where an enterprising business wants to have a more serious color palette, often relying on cool colors, blues, and greys. There’s often a lack of fun. I do see this changing. Companies having more fun with their brand and allowing more personalization to users.

As for best practices_,_ keep it simple. Use the right tool for the right job. Create efficient live design workflows that allow for multiple iterations throughout the life of the UI. Be adaptable to trends in UI/UX as new features and devices become available to the market.

Where do you see UX/UI design heading in 2018?

I see the development of greater integration of UI design tools combined with prototyping tools. This has been coming to life with Adobe XD.

I think Adobe has created this and is improving this with mobile development in mind specifically. When you want to make a mobile app design now, you use Illustrator or Photoshop and XD to create and share mobile UI. This has prompted better asset delivery workflows through design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, which allows for asset export for various sizes and OS requirements for implementations across platforms. The next steps will be improved redlining and asset sharing for development teams, plus improved support for cloud assets and brand kits.

How have smartphones impacted designing for UX/UI, especially with recent developments like Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore?

The boundless potential for ARKit [now native to Apple’s iPhone] is still to be decided. I think it will be obvious for gaming. We saw this with the success of the Pokemon Go game.

ARKit with additional hardware attachments to mobile devices opens the door to AR even further, whether that’s camera adaptations like lenses or device accelerators to tap into specific features like accelerometers and other device sensors. With that new development, UX/UI will be even more relevant. New interaction patterns and feature architecture will need to be designed and developed for new AR experiences.

What are your best tips for designers who want to successfully design for smartphones?

Wireframe your flows and screen flows roughly before you start pushing actual pixels or writing a line of code. Test your design and interactions with prototypes before you sign off on design implementation. Try to avoid ‘design by committee’ as much as possible. Create relative metrics before testing.

Do the work, don’t phone it in. Do your due diligence as an artist to create the best experience for the user. Art is about questions, and design is about answers. Always be hungry to learn something new. Disrupt common conventions. Keep a childlike mind, and play like a child to keep things creative. Take risks, and be ready to fail.

How has Adobe XD helped you in your design work?

I used Adobe XD to create flows within the HP Smart App.

Adobe XD has made my job much easier. Having the ability to rapidly move between design and prototyping stages within one program has been an incredible time saver. It helped me to rapidly iterate design and test flows for various app features and functions.

I’m a very visual person, so it was awesome to see all my screens and flows from a high-level view. Sharing a web link with the team was quick and easy. Our team could comment on the link, and I could quickly update the design based on comments.

The other great feature of XD was the ability to send the prototype to an actual device for user testing. It’s nice to pass the phone to a user and have them navigate your app design on the device. It really improves the testing and feedback.

Visit our website to learn more about Adobe XD, the UX/UI tool that allows you to design, prototype, and share in an all-in-one solution.

Topics: Creativity, Design

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud