Adobe Doesn’t Care About Its Users…

…At least that’s what it seems like. If Adobe was really concerned about providing a pleasant experience for their users, they would have done at least one of a couple of things recently:

  • Ship a finished, bug free product
  • Conduct user testing to validate proposed “improved features”
  • Compare user research findings with usage analytics to confirm the appropriate direction for the software

Unfortunately, it seems that Adobe did none of these (at least not successfully) and has had to reap the backlash.

A few weeks ago in early October 2015, Adobe released a new version of Adobe Lightroom (6.2/CC2015.2), an image editing and management software, with what they claimed were “improvements” to the software to “simplify” the image Import process. About half a dozen options were removed in the process of this “simplification”, options that many users (including myself) found critical to efficient usage of the software. Within the first few days, Adobe had hundreds of upset users posts on their community support forums objecting to the update. To date, more than 1000 posts have been made requesting that Adobe restore the features removed from the Import dialog in Lightroom. As of October 9, 2015, Adobe issued the following statement regarding the Lightroom 6.2 release:

I’d like to personally apologize for the quality of the Lightroom 6.2 release we shipped on Monday… we failed on multiple fronts with this release. In our efforts to simplify the import experience we introduced instability that resulted in a significant crashing bug.

Not good; you shipped a product with a bug. It happens sometimes. But at least you improved some things in the process, right? No? Hogarty continues:

The simplification of the import experience was also handled poorly. Our customers, educators and research team have been clear on this topic: The import experience in Lightroom is daunting.  It’s a step that every customer must successfully take in order to use the product and overwhelming customers with every option in a single screen was not a tenable path forward. We made decisions on sensible defaults and placed many of the controls behind a settings panel.  At the same time we removed some of our very low usage features to further reduce complexity and improve quality.  These changes were not communicated properly or openly before launch.  Lightroom was created in 2006 via a 14 month public beta in a dialog with the photography community.  In making these changes without a broader dialog I’ve failed the original core values of the product and the team…

- Tom Hogarty, Adobe

Avoiding Backlash From Users by Understanding What They Want

The sad part is, this could’ve all been avoided. Adobe made 3 mistakes that grew upon each other as they kept moving forward:

  1. Adobe talked to a limited set of users that didn’t represent the full user base
  2. Adobe’s researchers took feedback from that user group and attempted to simplify the import process for them
  3. Adobe’s developers developed an incomplete simplified import process that included a significant crashing bug in the software and shipped it with the bug

One of the key reasons given for implementing the changes was that “the import experience in Lightroom is daunting.” While that may be true for a portion of their novice or less experienced users, that doesn’t mean that they should remove functionality that experienced users rely upon. If they’d conducted user research with experienced users, they would have heard feedback stating the opposite about the import process. Adobe obviously didn’t speak to a representative sample of their users, or worse, they ignored the feedback of the photography community that uses this software to earn a living, not just as a hobby or for leisure. Tom Hogarty speaks to this point in his apology, “In making these changes without a broader dialog I’ve failed the original core values of the product and the team.” Then, to add insult to injury, Adobe shipped the software with the crashing bug still included, which arose as a result of the simplified import process.

Don’t be Adobe; learn from their mistakes. Contact User Insight today to learn about how we can help you delight your clients with new features and functionality that simplifies AND improves the user experience of your products and services.