Pretty Colors, Bad Design

I heard through the grapevine about the announcement of the Adobe CS3 icons, and it’s getting quite a bit of criticism.

The icons for Adobe CS3. Think color wheel meets periodic table of elements.

Now, I’m not really an icon designer, but I can definitely understand the criticism offered up from those who are. Especially the skepticism at choosing the Periodic Table of Elements to emulate. Seriously, of all the visualizations and symbols in our world to copy, they come up with the Periodic Table of Elements? Quick – what’s Fe? How about K? And Na? They are three commonly-known elements (Iron, Potassium and Sodium) with random abbreviations. Turning to Adobe, can you tell me what Di, Jr, and Sb might be? Personally, I have no idea.

But my main complaint is how they used color in this color wheel. What does any of it mean? Is it just whatever they felt inspired with? (Yes… ColdFusion… that’s cold, we’ll make it blue!) Surely it has nothing to do with what you can accomplish with that product, since ColdFusion (CF), Macromedia’s server communication language, and Photoshop (Ps) are both in the blue space, whereas Dreamweaver (Dw), Macromedia’s web development tool, and GoLive (Gl), Adobe’s web development tool, are at opposite ends of the wheel.

First of all, I always thought that CS3 would be Adobe’s big chance to release a suite of products that really integrated Macromedia and Adobe into one, solid company. Why does one, solid company need two offerings for web development? I would have wanted to see one product that GoLive users and Dreamweaver users could target for upgrading. It seems a better move for Adobe than having two teams developing the same product in different ways.

Secondly, what’s the story on the colors? It seems to me that Adobe had an opportunity to associate colors with different actions. Web development tools could be one color group, image manipulation tools another, and sketching / prototyping tools still another. Instead, it seems like they used color to divide former Macromedia products and traditional Adobe products, which seems to not be very meaningful at all.

But I do think the color wheel is pretty.

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The conversation continues...

  1. On December 22nd, 2006 at 1:49 am, zsz said:

    Hee hee, I like Expression Web too, and I promise it’s not because it comes from my division. ;)

    The Expression products are pretty cool; it’s hard for me to stray too far from Macromedia since I grew up on the stuff, but Microsoft is taking some cool steps in the designer space, that’s for sure.

  2. On December 22nd, 2006 at 12:08 am, Bjorn said:

    I have to admit, that’s pretty poor icon design. I personally hate GoLive, even though I always love a good editor. I have had so many issues with it. You know what I like, is that new Microsoft Expression Web. It doesn’t support PHP and MySQL like Dreamweaver, but the css support is amazing. I’ll probably end up getting both suites (Studio and CS3) but I wish they did combine them (and I was expecting they would since they trashed the powerful Macromedia brand).

What do you think?