InDisbelief at InDesign 2017.1

In the first week of April 2017, Adobe released its latest versions of the Creative Cloud updates. As a regular user of Adobe InDesign, I was filled with anticipation that Adobe had finally gotten around to the laundry list of bug fixes and improvements that users like me had been asking for the last few years. Sadly, the “improvements” to Adobe InDesign were mild to say the least. Rather than give a review of the update, please feel free to read David Blatner’s critique on InDesignsecrets.

I have to agree with David’s take on the update, and it is truly frustrating that the InDesign application continues to go without any real improvements since CS6 that I feel would be noteworthy. What contributes to this frustration is that since 2015, I have met face-to-face (at my own personal expense) with the senior engineers and product managers of the Adobe InDesign team on several occasions, along with dozens of my peers worldwide, to share our frustrations and concerns about the lack of improvements and innovations with each new release or update.

In my opinion, it would appear that Adobe’s strategy for InDesign is to welcome a new wave of users and attempt to make it an easy program to use. Even though I’m now a seasoned veteran with this software, I do remember when I too was a “first timer” to this software and struggled to grasp some of the concepts. Adobe is also trying to make the program do more than it was originally intended for, by producing epubs, online publications via its “Publish Online” button, as opposed to creating documents purely intended for print.

But that strategy aims to gain new users, rather than satiate the requests of existing users, or appeal to and appease potentially departing users.

If Adobe is interested in recruiting new users, might I suggest that they provide better access to training resources so that new users can have a way of learning the application apart from paid providers or fan-based tutorials? Also, maintain existing users by attending to this long list of fixes and improvements so that they can recommend InDesign to potential new users.

In a previous Colecandoo article (yes, they can hear us), I wrote about the methods that Adobe uses to communicate with its users. Upon reflection, this communication often refers to issues such as anecdotal bugs, crashes, and technical queries, rather than feature requests, the mood of users and the InDesign community as a whole… and that’s a problem if they want to be progressive and stay ahead of their competitors such as Quark and Affinity. Adobe is going to have to broaden its communications and do more than listen through its own channels, but also to harsh criticism that is dealt to it by disgruntled users.

Then there’s the elephant in the room, the subscription model. Adopted in 2013, this has been a topic of much debate among single users, enterprise and government clients, and Adobe itself. First to exploit the frustration with this payment model was Adobe InDesign’s main competitor, Quark Xpress, by allowing users to purchase their software outright. That said, this difference is not just exploited, it’s a major selling point. However, the initial purchase price is enough to make some think twice before making the switch.

But there’s a new player in town. Scheduled for release in 2017 is the long-awaited page-layout software by Affinity titled Affinity Publisher (not to be confused with Microsoft Publisher). With a low entry-level price-point, if it is anything like its companion products Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo that both received rave reviews and awards, then both Adobe and Quark should be on-notice to not just listen to their users, but implement improvements… quickly!

For me, it boils down to the three Ls – Loyalty, Legacy, and Lethargy.

  • Loyalty in that I’ve been an Adobe user since PageMaker, so for over half of my adult life I’ve used an Adobe page layout program in one form or another.
  • Legacy in that so many of my files are created in InDesign that while I could use other software going forward, I will have to rely on legacy files for much of my ongoing work and converting them to another application poses risks and uncertainty.
  • Lastly, lethargy – it takes time, energy and commitment to make a change from one layout application to another. It’s easier to remain in the software I’m used to, rather than learn another application and hope it was the right decision.

But while that applies in my circumstances, that doesn’t necessarily mean everybody thinks like me.

If any Adobe employee is reading this, the one take-away message would be this: please don’t ignore your long-term users who want you to implement the laundry-list of fixes and improvements that have been accumulated over the years. We’re paying subscriptions and barely seeing any of the innovations promised at the outset of the CC concept.

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About colmin8r
A prepress operator since 1997 specialising in Adobe InDesign.

One Response to InDisbelief at InDesign 2017.1

  1. dblatner says:

    Thank you for the shout-out, Colin! I really agree with your thoughts here. Looking forward to seeing you again in person next month at CreativePro Week!

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