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Adobe acquired Figma for US $20 billion, roughly half cash, half stock. The news has put the tech industry, and the content design community, into a tailspin. Some are worried that this acquisition could mean an end to the free tier…arguably one of the biggest tools that put UX writers “in the room.”
In this episode, the UX Content Collective crew chats with guests Scott Kubie and Carol Valdez on content design’s destiny with the Figma acquisition news. Listen in or read the transcript!
Available to listen
- Buy tickets to the Button conference in October
- The last ever Confab takes place next year
- Roy West is looking for a UX writer at Apple
- Content Rookie pod
- Candi Williams and UX equity learning
- Scott’s Content Career Accelerator
- Work at ServiceNow as a content designer
Patrick: [00:00:16] Welcome everyone. Welcome to the Interface Podcast. This is the monthly podcast from the UX Content Collective about everything content design and UX writing. We’re going to get into the discussion in just a moment because it is perhaps one of the biggest things to happen in content design and tech in the last little while. But I wanted to just give a quick rundown of everything that’s happening in the industry before we start. Now, obviously, Adobe’s acquisition of Figma will be our main topic today, but there’s still plenty to talk about. So first up is the Button Conference. So Button is taking place in Seattle in October and there are still tickets available. You can take part either in-person or online. So I would definitely try and get your hands on a ticket. And if you are heading to Seattle, I will be there. So I hope to see you there and please come say hello. Also, Brain Traffic, the brains behind Button…they’re getting ready for Confab next year. Confab will be the last-ever Confab in 2023. So if you want to take part in Confab, I would definitely put that on your radar. I do not believe tickets are available yet, but I will link to the site in the meantime. And there are a number of great jobs going around at the moment, particularly one at Apple. Roy West, who is heading up UX writing at Apple, is looking for a UX writer there.
Patrick: [00:01:42] I’m going to link to that in the show notes along with a few different jobs that are going around at the minute. So if you’re looking for work, there’s plenty to be had. I’d like to think that we’re the only UX writing podcast you listen to, but I don’t believe that’s the case. So Nicole Michaelis has a podcast called Content Rookie, and this month she has a great episode on how UX writers should think about SEO, not just a marketing tool. I definitely check that out. And then finally, Candi Williams, who is the head of content design at Bumble, has set up something called UX Equity Learning to help unlock UX learning resources for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access them. If you want to access those resources or donate or apply for information to provide, if you want to access those resources or donate to this initiative, I would definitely recommend checking it out. Again, link in the show notes. That’s it. I really want to get into the discussion with Figma because it is a longer one today, so I’ll leave it there. Thanks very much and talk to you soon. Today we’re going to talk about Adobe’s acquisition of Figma and we’ve got a great group here to do that today. And let’s go around and introduce ourselves, Carol. Why don’t we start with you? Introduce yourselves for the listeners.
Carol: [00:03:19] Yeah, sure. Hi, everyone. I’m Carol Valdez, and I am currently the director of content at ServiceNow. I’m based in San Diego, and I also know Bobbie and Patrick from back in the days when it seems like ages ago, right when we started the UX Content Collective, also known as the Writers Collective back then. And yeah, so I run a small but mighty team of content designers and we are a Figma house. So this is a pretty interesting topic amongst the crew these days. Happy to be here.
Patrick: [00:03:58] Vested interest then, which is great. And joining us also is Scott. Scott. Introduce yourself.
Scott: [00:04:06] Hey. Happy to be here. I’m Scott Kubie. I do a lot of things in the UX content space which you can find at kubie.co or maybe most notably or most recently, I do the UX Writing Events newsletter and I’m building out the Content.Events community and do a lot of things like this, talking to lovely people about content design and content strategy.
Patrick: [00:04:28] Awesome, fantastic. And then of course, we have Bobbie as well. Say hello, Bobbie.
Bobbie: [00:04:33] Hey. Hello. My name is Bobbie Wood and I am the founder and CEO of UX Content Collective and super happy to be chatting today about this big event.
Patrick: [00:04:44] Awesome. And I am Patrick Stafford. I am a co-founder and COO of the UX Content Collective. Okay. Introductions out of the way. So this was a massive week for tech. It feels like everyone in design tech is talking about the acquisition of Figma by Adobe, and there’s really sort of two parts to this. The first part is everyone in technology just commenting on this just as a deal in the technology space. Even people who aren’t designers are just viewing this as just a very large business deal and mostly because it’s a huge valuation for Figma. 20 billion, I think I saw that the valuation was something like 50 times revenue, which is one of the biggest private tech acquisitions. So just from an objective standpoint of business, like people that are interested in what’s going on, but then there’s the other part. And the other part is people in design, content designers especially who are looking at the acquisition and thinking either this might be good or more commonly they’re looking at it and going, Oh no. What’s going to happen? I think we have a couple of different views represented on this podcast, so I’m really keen to explore what some of those reactions are. I’d love to go around and get from everyone your initial reaction to the acquisition and what your basic thoughts are after seeing that news. Carrol, I’d love to start with you. What was your initial reaction when you saw that Adobe had acquired Figma for $20 billion dollars?
Carol: [00:06:35] Many, many thoughts. Mostly like a little bit of a heartsink. I think at first, you know. Like, oh no…there they go. But then I was totally struck about how the whole design team at ServiceNow just had so many opinions and so much conversation around it, so many references to past things that have gone bad. Kind of surprised that the sentiment was not a lot of Adobe lovers out there, so that was more surprising to me. I think the thing that struck me was the community around Figma, which I feel like has been such a huge part of its success. Especially when you attend their conferences, how that’s really driven, right? It’s a user-driven place. And so then that’s where the heartsink thinking came from. It’s like, wow. That was such a unique thing that others have tried to do and have not been successful at. And they were. And so where’s that community going to go? Particularly, obviously, the content designer is a strong, small but vocal group within that community.
Patrick: [00:07:56] Yeah, absolutely. Scott, did you have a similar reaction? What was your thoughts on seeing the news?
Scott: [00:08:03] If I’m being completely honest, I think I reacted the way that one reacts when you read an entertainment headline about actors that you don’t really care that much about. I pulled up the entertainment news to find an example. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are expecting their fourth child. And you look at them and go, good for them! So, you know, so my review is kind of like, wow, 20 billion. Wow. Good for them. That’s interesting. And it took a minute, I think, and partly seeing the reaction from everyone else to contemplate all the angles of it. I felt out of touch, not in how popular Figma was, but in how much seemingly kind of resentment or strong feelings had built up around some of Adobe’s design tools. I come from a broadcast background and when I was coming up, I loved Adobe. I used Premiere Pro. My freak-out Adobe acquisition is when they bought Cool Edit Pro and it became their audio tool so I’m still mourning that one. I’m not quite caught up to Figma, but I’m sure I’ll get there.
Patrick: [00:09:08] Yeah, I think everyone has a story about a company killing off a product that they really love. I’m still mourning the loss of Google Reader, but we’ll move on from that one. Your point there about, you know, people really not having a lot of faith in Adobe. Bobbie, I feel like that’s something that you might identify with because I know that your first reaction was not a positive one to this to this acquisition. So can you tell us what your thought was when you saw that news?
Bobbie: [00:09:41] Yeah, I mean, coming in hard on the skeptical track here. So I love Adobe Tools. I’ve been a heavy-duty Photoshop, Illustrator, all the Creative Suite tools. I love them. They are so powerful. I don’t love the way Adobe manages their subscription services. And especially I don’t love the dark patterns that they’ve got surrounding, like trying to get in and out of the subscription experience. I got caught in it so hard, I kind of made a personal decision to never use Adobe Tools again. So that’s how strongly I felt about that. So coming out strong on the skeptical ledge. And I love Figma, like Carrol was mentioning, I dig the community around it. Apologies Figma, it’s sometimes not the most user-friendly tool, but like any tool, once you figure out how to use it, it’s really powerful and just so massively helpful for collaboration. So I’m hoping that they retain that. That’s my big hope.
Patrick: [00:10:58] Yeah. I think that emphasis on collaboration is number one, I think why people are so skeptical about this acquisition, but also why people are so afraid. If you go on Twitter or LinkedIn, you can see the sheer number of comments from people saying, I’m really scared about what this is going to do to design and particularly content designers. Because I think Figma has enabled content designers and UX writers to work side by side with designers in a way that they may not have done before within a tool. I know that a lot of content designers, have used Sketch, but Sketch is a Mac-only platform, I think. I believe they’ve updated to a browser-based version now, but for a long time that was a key tool people were using. There have been tools before like Axia, that people have used, but really Figma has enabled, because it’s browser-based, because it’s free, has really enabled this collaboration. On the other hand, Scott, I know, for instance that one of your thoughts is that content designers should try and be as tool agnostic as possible. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on the acquisition given that, and I hope I’m not misrepresenting your view there, but yeah, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, given that I think your view might be something akin to be prepared to use whatever tool is in the ecosystem at the moment.
Scott: [00:12:46] Yeah, I think that puts it well. Patrick, you know, if I’m being further honest, my second thought was one of joy in vindication of some opinions I’d just happened to be sharing recently around because that’s a question I get a lot. I’m sure you all do to through the Collective. It’s always framed as do I need to learn Figma? And you know, earlier in my career it was more content strategy questions. It seemed like the questions were more discipline-focused, do I need to learn information architecture? Do I need to learn how to run a content audit? And I’m often telling folks that you need to learn what you need to learn to do your job. So if the whole design team, product team and everyone, is collaborating in Figma and that’s where the action is, I think you’d be well-served to learn how to use it a little bit, but I always kind of come back to the question of like, okay, but like what are you doing in Figma? What is the thing that it is doing? You’re not Figma-ing, right? Like that’s not a thing.
Scott: [00:13:56] You can use it as an ideation tool. You can use it as a prototyping tool, you can use it as a wireframing tool. You can use it to put interactive presentations together about a user research report. You could build out a customer journey map in Figma. Those are all skills that you can also apply to a whiteboard. And I think like knowing the whiteboard version level of the skill and feeling confident in that makes these kinds of announcements a lot easier to ride because there’s not this freak out there of, oh gosh, all that I have is this deep expertise in this one particular suite or software tool that maybe is going to change, that maybe is going to start to suck that maybe my company is not going to be able to afford any more. Now, what do I do? Well, what you do is you just start doing whatever you’re doing in Figma in a different tool.
Bobbie: [00:14:48] Well, I’m going to jump on in and I’m going to say that would be one way to look at it. And it is super agnostic. But what we’re really missing if we end up with a different model or treatment for how Figma works. Patrick, you mentioned that we’re finally as content designers, able to work as peers within the tool, and that was unique and awesome about Figma. I’m already talking past tense, so I should say that is unique and awesome about Figma. So while I agree with you, Scott, like having come up, you know, 20 years of content design, used every tool in the book and every, you know, down to pencil and paper. Man has Figma been great.
Scott: [00:15:36] Yeah, I’m sure it is great. I mean, I’ve worked in Figma. I worked on a design team. We used Figma, they’d send me their Figma files, I’d go type in it. I mean, for me, I didn’t feel that different. And coming from teams where I had worked, sitting next to the developer and just talking to them and coming from teams where everyone in the design team is using Acture, which I never learned how to use. I think it depends on your working model and your collaborative model. So if you want to be in the weeds and work more like how a UX designer works, I imagine maybe that’s harder to do if you don’t have access to the tool. But to me, it wouldn’t feel like a hindrance to have suddenly lost my Figma seat because the shape of the conversations I’m having with designers and how I interact with the product team is still tool agnostic. I don’t think that’s going to be the case for everyone. I’m sure there are lots of highly collaborative models out there where this particular tool was better at it, but I think that to me that is also a representation of the point I’m making of look at all of the types of collaboration that Figma enables. Those are also things you can learn how to do in a tool-agnostic way. How do we collaborate deeply on the design and text of this? What does cross-functional collaboration truly look like? What does it look like to do a design critique or to run variations and iterations on this? Or to run A/B testing on the copy or whatever it might be? Again, all things you can learn how to do. You know, in a classroom with a chalkboard.
Bobbie: [00:17:19] Yeah. Carol, how do you think it will affect your team or your team’s collaboration?
Carol: [00:17:25] Yeah. Even more than collaboration, I think about scaling and bringing guidance to the designers. We can’t ratio-wise. There’s a whole lot less of us like most places, right? So our struggle is always to collaborate, but we can’t collaborate at that scale, right? So we are able to bring some of our guidance where they’re working and work with some design technologists and work with folks to be like, hey, how are we going to make this part of their workflow so that they don’t have this, like, hey, I gotta pop over here and I gotta ask a question over here and I gotta go to the style guide and check this. It’s right there in their workflow, right? And it’s amazing how things, like all the old-fashioned things, like you’re talking about old-fashioned, Scott. There’s less adoption when you’re not in their tools. I could just make something in Figma that all of a sudden all my product design partners are jazzed about which I couldn’t get them to do for the last 18 years that I’ve been trying to do this. I’m aging myself. So that part of it is for me, just amazing. I’ve seen so many other content designers who have felt like they all of a sudden have a stronger voice and more influence because Figma has allowed them to do some things that they have been hoping for, dreaming of for years, if not decades. So I feel like that piece of it is really exciting about it. Agreed that if someone else had nailed that in the way that Figma had, I would have you know, I’d be up for that, too. I’ve been chasing things around for years and my team has, too. We’re very, very adept at switching tools. And we still use lots depending on what team we’re working with. We use all those other tools. But this one was one that you got people’s attention and you weren’t just like, hey, hey, hey again and again.
Patrick: [00:19:40] Scott, I definitely see your point though about a tool can never replace a model you have for collaboration and an agreement within a team about expectations and responsibilities to each other. Like a tool can never replace that working model, right? So if you have the relationship set between everyone appropriately, it doesn’t matter what tool you use because you’re all working effectively together. One thing I did appreciate about Figma though, and when I was at MYOB, we moved from Sketch to Figma across the entire design team. One of the things that I really appreciated, though, was how low the barrier was to getting involved in the design. Unfortunately there had been some gatekeeping before about, well, no, you can’t come into the design because you don’t have this or you’re a content designer or you don’t have Sketch or blah, blah, blah. But when we moved to Figma, it was very much like, well, just give me the link, you know? Just send me the link. There’s really no excuse now for me not to be included. So I do think there’s a kind of symbiotic relationship there. I want to talk about the fears people have right now because if you look on Twitter, and a lot of good content design conversation happens on Twitter, there is a lot of fear right now about what’s going to happen.
Patrick: [00:21:05] And I don’t think it’s so much necessarily that people resent the team at Figma getting a nice handy payout, but there’s just some nerves about what’s going to happen. In fact, I have spoken to, I won’t name names, but I have spoken to some people in Figma and there’s a real mix of emotions right now. There are some people who are excited about what it could mean for collaboration. There are also people there who think, well, hang on, we were doing this independently. You know, why can’t we continue doing it? And to your point, Carol, you said earlier that Figma has really developed this community. I think that’s what people are kind of mourning in advance, the idea that they might lose that. And I think obviously the real answer to this question is let’s wait and see, because ultimately none of us really know. But I think if that community, as you mentioned, was absorbed into Adobe and erased, there’s a real chance there that we could lose something good. And I think particularly the free tier is what people are focusing on. The idea that you shouldn’t have to pay to get an entry-level design tool. I don’t know if anyone else has any thoughts about what people might be mourning in advance, but yeah,
Bobbie: [00:22:28] I was just going to say exactly. Figma feels like a very democratic tool. Like it’s just open to product managers, to any level of designer and you know, to content people from marketing, design, support. Everybody can have access to that design phase where we really can have the greatest impact on our design of customer experiences. Way up front. Trying to repair things later is really, really hard. So the super cool thing about Figma is that it sort of did invite a greater level of collaboration at the beginning of projects, and that’s what I think was so exciting. I’m still talking in the past tense. I’ve got to stop that. That is what I think is so exciting about Figma is that it enables that early phase involvement and influence that we had a hard time with in past iterations of design tools.
Patrick: [00:23:33] The past tense thing is interesting because I’m seeing on Twitter people saying things like, you know, R.I.P., Figma or you know, they’re saying like, well, I’m going to move to Sketch now. And I’m like, come on. Nothing’s happened yet. Let’s calm down a little bit. But Scott, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, because you talk to a lot of content designers who are trying to get into the industry. I know that’s something you focus on a lot. Is something you hear from people trying to enter the industry, like, are they asking questions like, do I need to learn Figma? What tools do I need to use? I’d love to hear your thoughts because you’ve been in the industry for a while. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what are the types of questions or things that people want to know about these types of design tools now, as opposed to maybe a few years ago. Are potential content designers or prospective content designers wanting to know more about tools, less about tools? The same? Has Figma influence those conversations? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
Scott: [00:24:39] It’s definitely shaped the conversation. I mean, the whole time I’ve been doing speaking and training, which is going on ten plus years now. People will ask about tools and I think often people will ask if they’re not in the content space, but maybe there’s a design leader or a product manager or a website manager or a marketing person, and they’re like, okay, what are the tools I need to have for my team to be successful? I want to get my people tools, and I think that for better or worse, that conversation is very heavily influenced by how we’ve built technology teams over time, because you definitely need to ask your developers what tools they need to the extent of like it matters what specs are on their computer and you may need to ask your UX designers that. What apps and software and suites and tools do you need to do your work? And I think for a long time the answer that most content strategists would give is, well, what I need to do, content strategy is Excel and a place to type. Office is fine and access to whatever anybody else has access to. So if you all are in Acture, give me access to Acture. If you all are in Figma, fine, give me access to Figma. So I think what I am apprehensive about is if we were to, if it were more difficult or costly to acquire seats and organizations are starting to tighten their belt, I do think content people may be the most at risk of losing access. So losing some of that ground that we’ve gained, I don’t think that contradicts my point that you don’t need those tools to do the work. It’s just that that’s where the work is happening. And content strategy people and content design people need to be where the work is happening. I think a way that Figma has shaped the conversation is, no one ever liked my answer and would roll their eyes, when I say that all you need is a place to type and spreadsheet tools. It really, really is. I promise you. It’s all you need to do really good work if you have the soft skills to back it up and to build good working relationships with your designers. People still want to know, okay, great, but what software should I learn? And then I was just able to say, learn Figma it’ll help because most of the teams are using it. But what’s funny to me in part is, you know, the conversation could change without this acquisition. You start looking for your next role and you’re talking to a team and maybe they’re running XD, maybe they don’t have Figma. Knowing Figma is not an all-access ticket to the UX design industry. Lots of organizations do work in lots of different ways, so I hope that there’s always some layer of equitably available tools that people can learn on their own without spending a bunch of money. I learned Adobe software because the kid down the street in eighth grade brought a CD-R to my house, white top, blue bottom, written on Sharpie with the, you know, serial code, right on it. I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on pirating Adobe Photoshop 6. Hopefully it’s expired because that’s how I got access to design software early on, and I don’t want people to have to go down that road. Like I hope that there will always be inexpensive ways to start to apply what you are learning about design.
Patrick: [00:27:55] Yeah, exactly. And Bobbie, that goes back to your point about perhaps some of the cost barriers or some of the dark patterns. And I think even people at Adobe expressed frustration about those patterns as well because there’s a huge contrast there between the people on the ground level doing the work versus those higher level strategic business decisions. Yep, Scott, I’m with you. I definitely used pirated Adobe software because back when I was in high school, that software cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. I don’t think some younger folks in the industry might realize, but back in the day, Photoshop costs thousands of dollars and was not accessible. Even the student version was hundreds of dollars. So when they actually moved to a cloud subscription model and you could get every app for like 60 bucks a month or whatever, that to me was mind-blowing. It was like, oh my God. I can’t believe that they’re doing this. And I think, you know, I’ve read a few points about accessibility, the idea that people are really concerned that if this free tier goes away, that there will not be something to take its place. I think that’s a real concern. Scott, though, your point about if seats become more expensive, content designers might be pushed out? Carol, you’re in an enterprise environment where you’ve got content designers working in Figma. I’m interested to know if because you’ve been working with it for a while, do you feel like the organization has seen enough of a benefit that even if things were to become more expensive, content designers would still stay a priority within the Figma account within your organization?
Carol: [00:29:46] Yeah. I’ve not come across too many budgetary constraints. Typically the tools that other designers were using we had access to as well. In our centralized design org, we are designers. So it’s not that we’re not seen as a designer. So it’s like, oh, you have to defend why you’re going to get that. And we do have a fair number, we have a big product content team, which is really our documentation team and you all are doing some training for them at the moment. And so they typically don’t use the same tools as the design group does, but now they are providing some coverage in areas where we don’t have content designers and so they’re getting in there into Figma. So it might be hard for them because it is, you know, they have a larger suite of products that they’re using. So it could be a consideration when it comes to that because that’s a group of a couple hundred people.
Carol: [00:30:57] But yeah, as far as other ones go, I worry a little bit about … we’ve been looking at some other applications that plug into Figma like Writer and that’s going to, I really feel, that that could help us scale content design and sort of democratize content creation to the whole design group and to PMs. So then I wonder about those relationships and how that will go. So that’s a little bit of a worry.
Bobbie: [00:31:28] Just to add on to that, Carol. I think it’s because I’ve been in the industry and this discipline for so long, the dream has always been like you’d almost have a translation management file, but it’s all your strings for your UI. We have this dream that one day we’ll be able to actually create giant resource files with just all these UI strings, we can edit them, and then they just pop in magically to the designs and they get handed off to Dev. Nobody has to copy and paste or retype or pull off a spreadsheet. So I think that to me, or this is my assumption, that part of what is, you know, we were getting so close with Ditto and Frontitude coming up and tools that do plug into Figma. It was starting to feel like we were maybe going to hit that mark where we had the ability to manage all the content and it was so close and so I hope we don’t lose that. That’s the dream, right, for content design.
Carol: [00:32:36] Because there’s like always a shelf where just we go to and so you can’t get anybody to go to that shelf and it gets dusty, right? And so you’re like, now the shelf. The shelf is brought into people’s workflows. So it’s just like, there it is, there it is, boom, you know? And that kind of frees us up to do that stuff that we’re uniquely able to do, developing new patterns, looking into the new areas where we haven’t nailed down all the ways to approach the content in there. So when, when we’ve figured some stuff out, let all that figured out stuff get to the people and then we can do more satisfying work. And then you can go in and do your polish at the end if someone needs it. But it’s not the same starting from square one with every new team you work with. Here are all our guidelines. And here’s how we do this. And here’s the pattern for this. And you gotta go over here for this. It’s just all right there. Which is, like you said, our dream. And so that really is satisfying to the poor full-stack designers who have to fill in and don’t know all those things. And they’re just like, oh, what do I put in here, trying to do it. And it’s there for them. And then they can choose, right? They can choose some options. So it really I think it’s even more exciting for our product partners who have to figure that out on their own.
Patrick: [00:34:16] Scott, you look like you’re itching to say something. You looked like you were moving closer toward the mic.
Scott: [00:34:25] I’m thinking a lot about, like, I love the dream. I love the dream. Some of my reticence to overly mourn the potential demise of a tool like Figma is that I’ve worked in web content strategy for a long time and worked with organizations with big websites, and I kind of feel like we’ve had this conversation around content management systems, too, which is this idea, this, this fantasy, if I may, that if we can just get everyone access and if we can just get all of the guidelines into the CMS just in time, and if we can get everyone with a seat and get all of the permissions just right so that everyone who owns their content can see all the things and access all the things that finally we’ll be free. And we can finally do big-picture digital strategy work. And that’s never the case on its own. Like that’s part of it. And it is empowering and it is enabling to have more just-in-time guidance. And absolutely, I’ve told an extended joke on stage about the dusty old tome of content guidelines that no one ever looks at. You absolutely have to center it. I can’t co-sign the idea that one piece of web-based design software is the only model for that. It may be the best model, may be everyone’s favorite model. I’m sorry for folks if it’s your favorite model and you’re worried that it’s about to go away, that sucks. You can have this dream of all the strings accessible, everyone being able to access it, everyone being able to ship in a code-based design environment. I want to say Etsy, at least last time I saw a talk from someone from Etsy, is a very GitHub and code-driven design culture. Designers ship code and I would have to imagine that a content designer or UX writer working at a place like that has extensive access and programmatic access to all of the strings without any of these tools. And that comes from a different working model. So there are ways to do this.
Bobbie: [00:36:31] Sorry to interrupt, Scott, but how do you feel about reducing design to code? Design is, so, you know, there’s design thinking. That might be our own podcast someday where we talk about the merits or lack thereof of design thinking and all the work that goes into that. But when I imagine design, to me it’s very visual. And if you reduce it to a code experience, yes, you have control over all those strings, but you’ve now lost this idea of how to caretake the user experience because you’re not stepping through screens and a visual experience like a user does.
Scott: [00:37:12] I guess I feel like it’s not reducing it to code so much as just rendering in code and rendering decisions in code because the things we design have to be … You have to reify them somehow. They become something. And even the strings that we write become code. Like that’s what that’s why we call them strings, because they’re the part of the thing that we ship that aren’t the code, they’re the strings. And so I feel like. Some of my own work experience has been that when we get so visual, if designs being reduced to anything, it kind of gets reduced to boxes and arrows and pretty pictures. And I think that there are lots of methods and ways of approaching design and design thinking that aren’t dependent on, you know, laying out really slick customer journey maps with every screen in a row. I think that is a nice way to work, and that enables collaboration with less design-minded stakeholders who like to show me how this works, show me it in context, show me the whole thing. That’s a great way to work. But I mean, going back before Figma was a figment of anyone’s imagination, I was teaching workshops on visual content strategy and being a person who communicates visually with diagrams and models and all that kind of stuff. So I think working visually is very important. I’m not clear that any one tool is the best way to do that. I do a lot of drawing pictures on legal pads and waving them in front of my webcam when I collaborate with people.
Bobbie: [00:38:41] I think for me, it’s the instant clickable prototype that communicates a thousand times more than a paper sketch or any code. So I guess that’s the experience I’m hoping that we retain with Figma.
Patrick: [00:38:57] Absolutely. We’re coming to the end of our podcast. So I’d love to wrap up with some final thoughts or some discussion here today. For me, I think what I’m really thinking about with Adobe and Figma is, number one, I will be concerned if any of Figma’s founders leave. If they start to go away, then that sort of indicates to me that Adobe is taking over the culture of Figma and there’s some decline in the internal culture there. On the other hand, you know, I’m an optimistic person, Bobbie, as you might attest to, I tend to look on the bright side. I am hoping really hoping that for Figma, two things happen. Number one is that they continue doing what they can do, doing what they’ve done, and helping accessible design. But that Figma’s culture actually impacts Adobe’s culture. And we start to see integration with Adobe Services in a way that is led by the Figma team. Because from my point of view, and I’ve covered these types of acquisitions for a long time in my previous life as a business journalist, this deal was $20 billion dollars. Adobe had a choice, they said would do we want to put 20 billion into our own product or do we want to put 20 billion into a competitor? That type of money is not designed to kill a product. It’s designed to acquire it and nurture it. Now, they might still mess it up, but I’m hoping that, for instance, in the future we might see an integration with tools that let you design in Figma and then push to live, not ever having to touch a piece of code. Not to put down code or anything, Scott, but just the idea that there could be more integration here to allow people to do things easily. Carol, I’d love to hear your final thoughts on all this.
Carol: [00:41:02] Yeah, I agree with you about having Figma influence Adobe and just the whole idea, like I said earlier on, how it has brought content designers into the mix because we’re thinking about the words. If you think about Adobe, you never think about their tools being for word people, content people. So this idea that they’re like, hey, we’re all in it together regardless of the tool. But there are other people other than just the ones who are highly visual, more on that end of the spectrum. So I really don’t want to lose this, you know, this new relationship or influence that content has had. Like I said, I’ve been doing this for a long time, I have tried all the different ways, and this one shows enough promise. And I really feel like content designers are feeling like they’re not so stressed. Right? They’re hopeful. So that hopefulness for our group, our people is what I want to see Adobe adopt.
Patrick: [00:42:12] Absolutely. And Scott, any final thoughts from you?
Scott: [00:42:15] You know, my thoughts at a time like this always just kind of go to tech workers and UX workers in general. And I think, you know, irrespective of the specific companies involved, I think it’s a big acquisition like this of a, you know, a company that has grown up pretty recently in the design space. I think it’s a good reminder to just kind of check in with yourself and a reminder to keep your own counsel about your sense of stability and where you are. You know, the Figma CEO has a boss now, right? So everyone in that company is down a level. On the other hand, hey, that might be a pretty exciting day depending on what your employment contract looked like. Conversely, for a lot of employees at Adobe who were steady on, I’m seeing some not super happy news about their stock price. And so it’s an unhappy day for a lot of people who might have been planning. You know, it’s a big company, even if people love it, they’re leaving Adobe every day. And that’s a less appealing option now than it was potentially a week ago. So I think, you know, just remember that however big and massive and stable things can seem something totally wild like this can happen. And I think it’s just good to always keep that in the back of your mind.
Patrick: [00:43:28] Absolutely. And Bobbie, final thoughts from you.
Bobbie: [00:43:31] Okay. So I’m going to lay out some thoughts about that 20 billion that we haven’t talked about yet. Figma is estimated to have 4 million users. And so what that means. That 20 billion, there’s three ways to look at it. They paid $5,000 for every one of those 4 million users. Adobe did. Another way to look at it is if every single customer paid 5000 bucks, they could have crowdfunded instead of gotten bought by a gigantic corporation. So these are just thoughts like keeping it modern. And the last one is that Adobe theoretically needs to recoup $5,000 from every single one of those 4 million customers to make back that money. So just kind of putting that 20 billion in perspective.
Scott: [00:44:20] Wait, now they’re talking about money. Can I share one more thought?
Patrick: [00:44:23] Yeah, absolutely.
Scott: [00:44:24] So I have a lot of projects. If anyone is feeling acquisition happy, you know, I guarantee you we’re not even talking billions here. It would take a significantly smaller amount of money. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Like lot less than that. I’m gone forever. You’ll never have to hear from me again.
Carol: [00:44:45] There’s this window, they can get a deal now.
Patrick: [00:44:48] Scott’s for sale. So I was going to say for all the Silicon Valley investors out there, Scott’s for sale for a few beers down at the pub. So take note. Take note. Awesome. Well, this has been fantastic. Carol and Scott, thank you for joining. Bobbie, thank you for joining as always. Carol, I’ll give you and Scott, I’ll just give you one opportunity. Where can people find you online? Anything you’d like to promote?
Carol: [00:45:14] Yeah, I just posted a new job, so look for it on LinkedIn. I’ll be looking for another content designer. It would be number 13, lucky number 13 on my team.
Scott: [00:45:31] Yeah, I’m easy to find at kubie.co. I’m putting some new workshops and trainings on my own calendar for 2023. And yeah, we’d love to meet anyone listening. If I can help with anything, just reach out.
Patrick: [00:45:44] Perfect. All right, Carol, Scott, Bobbie. Thanks so much for joining. And thank everyone for listening. We will see you all next month.