Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Jun 2018

Tools on Deck: Adobe Comp CC

The tools used on Windows and macOS machines just aren’t usable in the same manner on Apple’s iOS devices. That has required some shifts, and has shaped some exposure to some tools in a different light than what they might have been initially marketed towards. Speaking specificity, Adobe Comp CC has become that tool. And yet, it largely goes unnoticed because this type of use is not what you do on a tablet.

Some weeks back, there was a post of a SmartTrip Apple Watch Concept. The screenshot in this post was of Adobe Comp CC, a wireframing and layout application made by Adobe and only available on iOS. This application has been part of the toolshed for a few years as it relates to design work because of the ease it has with fitting into existing Adobe workflows when working with others.

Read more about Using An iPad Pro As A UX Designer

Adobe Comp CC seems like nothing more than a scaled version of the first editions of Adobe’s InDesign product. There’s a means to create a canvas (several templates), and either by drawing the shapes, or using the shape libraries, create layouts and interface concepts. After you’ve made one page/screen, you close that to open another. These can be saved within a project, and all of these projects are saved to your Adobe CC account. That integration is quite helpful — you can create assets within applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. and then simply pull those into your Comp CC project. If you change the component in one of those apps, the change can be adapted into Comp CC’s project easily.

Where Comp CC doesn’t work so well is when doing more complicated interface explorations. Applications such as Axure, Balsmic, and even Adobe’s own XD (for macOS) enable the connection of components and screens inside of a project. You can design a home screen in Comp CC, but to show how it functionally connects to another screen, you’ve got to use another application (on-device, Marvel App; if collaborators are involved, InVision). This gap rears its head quickly when using Comp CC for UI design or UX strategy.

Read UX Journeys” Lessons From What’s Thrown Away

Even still, the quality of what can be produced in Adobe Comp CC is enoug to turn heads and drive towards better decisions on not just the look and feel, but the content which drives/is driven by experiences. Comp CC leaves just enough room to be simple to do design quickly, and takes just enough effort that you’ll pull your design notes (unfortunately in another program also) so that you can answer what the design didn’t.

Could it be better? Definitely. XD for macOS shows what Comp CC on iOS should be. There’s no excuse with the power and direct input interface on an iPad that more couldn’t be done with Comp CC. And yet, that’s part of the challenge with smaller apps like this. Comp CC is powerful enough to build the next great app; its also simple enough to build your flyer/billboard/banner ad. Would be good to see more come from Comp CC for UI work; there’s more than potential here for making great things. Our work has been proof of that.

Read UX Journeys: Unexpected, Yet Better Products

Speak to a interface designer and you will likely not be very far from hearing about products such as Sketch, InVision, and others. There’s something of a fetish the design industry has about its tools. So much so that conversations about what is UX turns quickly into UX is the tools you use. That’s hard to escape when the workstation is an iPad Pro. Yet, the tools to create avenues for the best experiences are only tools. To understand these tools and their canvas helps identify what can and can’t be understood under after the experience event.

Tools and their impacts on creating and understanding experiences is a wide and deep topic. Avanceé promotes theory, process and tools that are easily available. What’s next is up to you.