Adobe Creative Cloud: sad, sad UI inconsistency

Adobe print dialog comparison - AI and PS

The Illustrator (top) and Photoshop print dialogs might well have come from two different planets.

Like most designers, I spend an awful lot of my day looking at software applications designed by Adobe. They’re chock full of software goodness: powerful across the board, and sometimes (can you say Photoshop) still able to amaze. But there is one area where these applications drive me crazy. The User Interface design jumps all over the map, leaving me with the feeling that no Adobe development team actually talks to any other.

Much of this confusion was born out of a shamefully lazy decision that Adobe made years ago. They simply got tired of styling their applications for specific platforms. So they created their own interface conventions that were neither Mac-like nor PC-like. I think these “third-way” interfaces (yes there have been several iterations) make Adobe products look like something an amateur threw together with some kind of clumsy kit. But it gets worse–much worse. Adobe is far from consistent in using their own invented conventions, and they often mix in standard operating system elements for no obvious reason. The result is just icky.

One of the advantages that Adobe has always claimed for their “suite” approach is cross-application consistency. Well, I’m going to have to call out the emperor on that one. The current iteration of the suite (Creative Cloud) still feels like a UI hodge-podge, and this has been an obvious problem for years.

Check out this very detailed Adobe UI Gripes blog if you would like to review this sad history.

I recently decided to write Adobe about this. I’m not foolish enough to think that this will make any difference in what they choose to do. But I do think getting this off my chest might help me a little.

Adobe:
Please end the chaotic user interface inconsistencies within the Creative Cloud. This has long been an issue with the Creative Suite, but it is worse with the CC applications when I I think it should really be getting better.

I suggest someone sit down in front of all the applications (like we have to on a daily basis) and look at the interface basics: open and save dialogs, printing and export dialogs, palette scroll bars, etc. etc. ad nauseam. they jump all over the place in terms of style. Some Mac system style. Some your own home-grown interface style–actually, SEVERAL versions of your home-grown style. The very same button (say the “Print” button) will be different sizes in different applications. Some have the text centered vertically on the button, while others have the text misaligned, riding low on the button like something an amateur might do.

This makes the CC suite just feel messy. Why don’t you guys buck up and do it right. With the CC you are asking even more money for your products. For that will you please give us at least interface consistency.

By the way, it feels like a cheap shortcut that you are not willing to give your apps the appropriate chrome for at least the two major platforms (Mac and PC). In my ideal world, the CC applications on my Mac would look like Mac applications. But if that is too much to ask, please, please, make them at least consistent among themselves.

– Jim Gibson

JIM GIBSON earned his BA in English (yes, English) from the University of Virginia. Nevertheless, he has enjoyed a long career in the graphic arts that spans a broad set of technologies, skills, and interests. Since the early 1980s he has operated his own design studio with an impressive list of satisfied clients.