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Pat Dryburgh

The response to yesterday’s post about my experience purchasing Photoshop CS6 has been incredible. It has handily become the most popular post on this site by far. Thank you to everyone who has linked to it, and to those who commented through email or Twitter.

A few people have said that this whole situation is my fault, because I didn’t understand that Adobe Creative Cloud doesn’t use serial numbers.

Tim Dawson:

As many times as i’ve griped about Adobe in the past, i’m going to say they’ve done a stellar job on CS6 this time around - the experience detailed in this post is simply from the misunderstanding that the ‘creative cloud’ membership requires a serial number (as per previous releases) however simply logging in with your purchasing adobe id in the application will make it ‘just work’.

I spoke to four Adobe customer service reps through this experience, and not one brought this to my attention.

This was my experience purchasing the product:

  1. Upon opening Photoshop CS6 to get to work, I was presented with a screen that indicated I could no longer use the beta software, and promoted the subscription plan.
  2. I clicked through and purchased the subscription plan.
  3. I went back to the open app on my computer, clicked “License This Software,” and saw a form asking for a serial code.

No where did I see anything about logging in with my Adobe account.

What I apparently misunderstood was that rather than simply register the version of Photoshop CS6 I’d been using for the past month, I had to download the software again, this time from my “recent purchases” list on

To be fair, one Adobe rep did instruct me to re-download the software. However, it was not explained to me why I had to do so. Had I not been on a crappy airport wifi connection, I may have gone ahead and discovered the solution on my own. Unfortunately, the Adobe rep didn’t bother to take the time to explain this.

In my opinion, the ultimate problem is Adobe’s inability to communicate clearly. As I pointed out yesterday, Panic’s payment and setup process is crystal clear. And they’re not the only ones. I can go to the Mac App Store, hit two buttons, and download and install apps that are ready to go as soon as I launch them from Launchpad.

As a user experience designer, I am concerned with the user’s experience from the moment they discover my app through the purchasing process and on to the actual interaction with the app. It all affects a user’s perception of the product they are using.

As leaders in the creative industry, Adobe would do well to stop, reevaluate their processes, and put small teams with big talent and lots of authority in place to make the types of changes that will positively impact not only the user experience, but ultimately their business.

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