Preparing Design Students for Success in the User Experience Age

by Karen McCavitt

posted on 07-16-2018

Widespread use of apps and websites has transformed people’s digital expectations regarding convenience and ease of use, putting pressure on app designers and developers to find more streamlined ways of working.

Leading universities are subsequently adapting their programs to help ensure design and development students gain the integrated skills they need to create the compelling digital experiences that consumers expect today. This approach is particularly evident at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, where programs are geared toward better preparing the next generation of design professionals.

The school’s Graphic Arts and Design Department chair Dermot MacCormack encourages students to build a diverse portfolio that includes websites, apps, and digital images to showcase their creative skills and make them more attractive applicants when entering the workforce.

Tyler School of Art student, Dylan Ball.

To highlight how Tyler School of Art is responding to new opportunities, it’s helpful to see things through the eyes of its students. Dylan Ball is entering his senior year as a Graphic and Interactive Design student at the school. After several years in the program, he clearly understands the importance of approaching every project from the perspectives of both designer and developer.

“The lines between designer and developer are blurring, and that’s unavoidable given all the amazing apps out there today,” says Ball. “As a designer, I need to understand how both worlds come together.”

The program’s first assignment for students entering the Graphic and Interactive Design program is called the “Restaurant Identity Project,” which asks students to design digital branding materials for a conceptual eatery. Ball chose a Manhattan-style restaurant called “New Yolk.”

Graphic design students traditionally created static images, as the coding and other technical aspects of a project like this one would be handled by a developer to bring the concept to life. That’s definitely not the case any longer, and it’s one of the reasons Tyler School of Art partnered with Adobe to provide students with even greater access to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Ball first created his logo using Adobe Illustrator CC, then pushed the design into Adobe InDesign CC to further build out the menus and signs while maintaining the same original feel. After using Adobe Photoshop CC to manipulate New York subway and food imagery associated with the New Yolk concept, he was ready to see his designs in action. To do so, he transitioned the work to Adobe XD CC.

Adobe XD allowed Ball to piece together the various creative elements of his New Yolk brand and build an interactive mockup of the final product. The result was that not only Ball, but also his teachers and fellow students, could see a more dynamic interpretation of New Yolk. Equally important was that Adobe XD gave Ball an easy a way to jump into website and app design, even while he was building his interactive screen design skills.

“With Adobe XD CC, students can start designing for screens without being intimidated by technical challenges,” says MacCormack.

Ball used the solution to create menu and packaging options, the mobile and desktop website’s digital wireframes, and the prototype that showed how the mobile and desktop websites would function.

“From there, it was easy to drop in imagery, type treatments, the logo, and designs in Adobe XD CC from other Adobe Creative Cloud solutions,” Ball explains.

The integration between Adobe Creative Cloud solutions speeds up the process of bringing many project elements into one place and then continually refining designs to improve the user experience before anything even goes to a developer.

“We really have to design for screens first, and Adobe XD CC lets designers dive deep into this approach,” says Ball.

More recently, Ball created a prototype and website mockup for a custom app called “Beeline,” which provides real-time information about how busy stores and restaurants are.

Ball liked the ability of Adobe XD to make prototyping quicker, easer, and more editable than previously possible, allowing him to quickly go from concept to interactive product.

“It was my third time using Adobe XD CC, and everything was already becoming much simpler and more useful,” Ball adds.

As companies of all sizes seek out graduates with diverse digital literacy and communication skills, and the ability to see projects through from initial concept to final delivery, partnerships like the one between Tyler School of Art and Adobe are vital. For Ball and his peers, it helps give them the skills and confidence they need as they become the next generation of design leaders.

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Topics: Creativity, Design, Education, Industry

Products: InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Creative Cloud