Flash Player, Flash MX 2004, Flex, FlexBuilder
2002 – 2004
By the mid-2000’s, Flash had pretty much replaced Director as the premier way to add rich content to the web and was way ahead of HTML in what it could deliver. Everyone was pushing the envelope on what could be created and Macromedia needed tools that could keep up with increasingly demanding designers and developers. Flash was built on metaphors such as movie clips, frames, and timelines that were foreign to developers and so there were several diverging efforts to come up with a more appropriate foundation for building apps. In addition, Flash had just introduced video in its player but it only supported monolithic, downloaded video and although clearly promising, it hadn’t really caught on yet. I was the first product designer hired at Macromedia and I was the sole product designer on these projects.
Sole Senior Product Designer for Flash player, Flash MX 2004, Flex, and FlexBuilder
Flash Leadership Team member
Cross-Product UI Team member (One of four members making user interface and application design decisions for the Studio suite)
I designed features, made wireframes and comps, designed icons and splash screens, wrote and reviewed specs, and worked with multiple product teams to get them implemented—including localization support, Flash Streaming Video (.flv files), components for video and building applications, and more. I also designed components for video and data connectivity that had setup wizards built in to increase initial ease of use.
I successfully performed the first full UI audit of Flash, pairing with developers to fix UI bugs, reorganize menus, standardize keyboard shortcuts, and group UI by affinity and usage. Managed usability testing and alpha/beta testing programs. Created solutions for all major issues discovered in usability testing and UI audit.
Coordinated complete reskinning of the Flash application with the Flash engineering and QA teams, other Studio product teams, internal design standards group, and external design agencies.
Represented the voice of the customer. One of three core team members involved in all customer visits as part of synchronous development initiative for FlexBuilder.
DRILLDOWN: Start Page
Intelligent Defaults are important. Beginning states are the easiest to optimize because behavior and state is least divergent at that point. Yet most software had nothing useful happen when you ran it. New users would see nothing helpful and constant users would have to go through sub-menus to reopen recent files. The best case was a popup that could be useful but felt as if it should be swatted away. I proposed a standard starting state for the app that exposed recent files for continuing work, common templates for new work, and tutorial files for new users. All of these could be kicked off with a single click from the unused space when no documents were open. Wrote specs for Start Page and worked with engineers, QA, and multiple product teams to get it implemented in all of the Macromedia Studio products including Flash, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks.
The start page concept was implemented in all of the Studio MX products and is still in all those products today.
The Flash Player achieved 98% market adoption and Flash streaming video won a Technical Emmy and enabled modern internet video experiences such as YouTube and Hulu.
The Studio product suite made over $400M.