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Adobe announces Spectrum 2 for intuitive, inclusive cross-platform design
Wed, 13th Dec 2023

Adobe has announced the release of Spectrum 2, an innovative update to its design system developed a decade ago. The update aims to make Adobe tools more intuitive, inclusive and exciting to use across multiple platforms, effectively supporting Adobe's mission of 'Enabling Creativity for All.' This announcement sees Adobe adapting to serve not only professionals but its growing core audience thanks to the expansion of generative AI like Adobe Firefly.

The original design system, Spectrum, was implemented across Adobe products in 2013. Integral changes have been observed since then, with Adobe Creative Cloud now available on various platforms including web, mobile, desktop and mixed reality. Adobe has introduced new tools such as Adobe Express and seen substantial growth in its customer base with the evolution of Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud.

Adobe has experienced a transformational shift with the introduction of Firefly, a powerful generative AI capability, changing workflows across many Adobe applications. Spectrum 2 caters to a broader demographical audience compared to a decade ago, and the design system has evolved accordingly to match that shift.

There are three main aspects of improvement in Spectrum 2 for users; more inclusive and accessible, more approachable and expressive, and more comfortable on any platform. Users will be able to witness the first updates across Adobe's web products at the beginning of 2024. According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 2.2 billion individuals around the world experience some form of visual impairment. Adobe has addressed this challenge in Spectrum 2 by prioritising inclusive and accessible features.

More expressive and approachable elements were put into action with the Adobe Express tool, a creativity tool and a collaborative effort of Spectrum and Express design teams. Spectrum 2 integrates lighter, bolder and rounder elements, friendly icons, thicker strokes and brighter colours to be more approachable. This successful collaboration with Express formed the outset of Spectrum 2.

A key feature of Spectrum 2 is its adaptability. Recognising the distinct characteristics of different platforms, Adobe has attempted to achieve a balance between cross-platform consistency while also adhering to each platform's conventions. Initially, Spectrum was strived for as much consistency as possible across platforms. Spectrum 2, however, will provide tailored variants, making Adobe tools feel familiar and at ease on any platform or device being used.

In supporting the vision of Spectrum 2, changes have been made across various components of the design system. This includes a cleaner, friendlier, adaptable, playful and familiar rethinking of icons. A grey system has been adjusted to provide more contrast. The color system has been rebuilt to utilise Adobe's brand colours, helping to integrate the brand more organically into product experiences, harmonising interfaces across products. An updated toolkit of geometric shapes has also been developed by the Brand Design team, which can be used to create infinite combinations of illustrations, banners and other assets.

Adobe users will start seeing Spectrum 2 rolled out across tools and experiences over the upcoming year, starting with web products. The future direction of desktop and mobile products is currently in development and will receive a focused version of Spectrum. Described as a "journey," the development of Spectrum 2 is a testament to Adobe's commitment to adaptability and continuous evolution.