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Adobe quietly re-launched their Web site this week without much fanfare or PR. I thought this was strange since every other marketing initiative they did this year was launched with a pretty heavy PR and ad push. I spent some time with the site to see if it had the visual or technical innovation I would expect from the company that created the technology we all design with every day.

The visual interface design and page layouts feel like they were done by their junior application interface designers with a very boxy, almost corporate white paper feel to them. I have the biggest issue with the combination search box and logo in the upper right corner. You can type what you are looking for into the search box but there is no submit button. If you are going to leave out the button then put in an auto suggest so users can find the best results possible and aren’t left fumbling around trying to figure out the most basic user action out there. Also don’t put the primary text input field next a navigation items since if you accidentally click on the logo you will go back to the home page. Was this user interaction that was really begging to be changed? Save the energy on things that didn’t need to be re-thought and put it into creating a better and more engaging experience.

Flash seems to have been kept to a minimum even then only used as a video player. For a company that wants to tell me at every conference I see them at how Flash and Flex are the wave of the future and are so easy to use I was expecting them at least practice a little of what they preach here to create a more engaging or unique user experience.

I am also surprised by the technical execution issue I found on all browsers. An easy example is go to the ‘Products’ drop down menu and pick any program you find there. Once the page loads go back up to the top nav, roll over any menu and move th mouse over any item in the 2nd or 3rd position. You will see that the mouse over action bleeds through the menu onto the title of the page, which does work as navigation, behind it.

I know there hasn’t been any warm fuzzy love for Abobe in this and I wish there would have been. I sat down to talk to Adobe about features for their new site over three years ago and I think after all this time the site is a real let down. I hold them to a higher standard since they create the technology we all use and their site should be leading the way in the use of that technology and not just the e-commerce version of a corporate white paper.

For me this also a larger problem because I am baffled by the overall creative direction of the Adobe’s brand and their creative choices from the horrible Microsoft-ish new Photoshop logo, the pointless Flash On site and now the “new” I think since they have no pressure from any competition in their space they have become lazy in with their even larger market dominance knowing professional designers will use their products no matter how bad their marketing becomes. I find it disappointing that a brand with so much potential chooses only to be content with producing lack luster communications with no direction or point of view that only appeal to a low level mass market.

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