Announcing the Adobe XD Plugin Accelerator: a Low-Barrier Opportunity to Access Funds, Mentorship, and Help Define the Future of Design Tooling
Design tooling is in the midst of a remarkable transition. Apps like Adobe XD are putting more power in the hands of designers than ever before, of course, but it’s also true that tooling itself has become a robust dialogue between makers and users. This means that developers have to be more attuned than ever to the needs of professional designers. But it also means that oftentimes those same designers are putting on a developer’s hat and building remarkable innovation in the form of plugins and integrations on our extensibility platform.
It’s this participatory dynamic that we want to supercharge here at Adobe. That’s why we’re so excited to announce the Adobe Fund for Design Plugin Accelerator. This is an intensive, ninety-day program that provides funding and resources to individuals with unique visions for the future of creativity, who want to make a mark on the design ecosystem by bringing their ambitious ideas to life. What’s more, participants will work with mentors and will meet regularly with Adobe designers, developers, and product managers to create something incredible.
Origins of the Adobe Fund for Design and the Plugin Accelerator
We created the Adobe Fund for Design last year with $10 million earmarked to raise the tide for all boats in the design tooling space. The Fund for Design provides grants and equity investments to impassioned and ambitious startup founders and companies with a vision for what design tools can become. Since its launch, we’ve issued over fifty grants and investments, and we’re incredibly excited about the new ideas and products that these partners are working on.
But we’ve also seen that investments and grants, while great for early stage companies, have not helped us reach everyone who has something to contribute to design tooling. There are many other people who aren’t founders or who want to pursue their passions outside of the structure of their current employers. And these people are teeming with ideas—different kinds of ideas that could benefit the entire design world. All they need is the opportunity—the time and resources—to turn those concepts into reality.
That’s the core of our new Plugin Accelerator initiative. The Accelerator’s three-month, intensive structure allows for motivated individuals and small teams to dive deeply and quickly into the world of design tooling and get fast results. And its focus on extensibility complements the opportunity: this is an arena where individual designers and developers can bring their ideas to life—and to market—with minimum friction. In addition to access to Adobe’s design, engineering and product teams, participants will get office space at Adobe headquarters in San Francisco and a $20,000 stipend (per person) to offset their expenses.
This accelerator is the first of its kind from Adobe Creative Cloud and it’s inspired in part by the launch of the Adobe XD extensibility platform at Adobe MAX last October. The public rollout of our APIs at Adobe MAX kicked off a wave of energy and enthusiasm among developers, resulting in some amazing plugins like Stark, Angle, Undraw, and UI Faces, all of which have been huge hits with Adobe XD users.
Now we believe the time is right to make it even easier for new and different kinds of creative minds to push the boundaries of what a design platform like Adobe XD can do, particularly in the areas of inclusive design, designing with data, personalized experiences, disruptive interfaces, and design systems. Our robust APIs make it possible for design-minded developers to add new dimensions to the design experience. Some possibilities include:
- Incorporating assistive technology into fundamental prototyping, e.g., a plugin that allows for alt text and other affordances
- Combining prototypes with user profiles and marketing data, e.g., a plugin that enables rapid prototyping of personalized experiences
- Refashioning core design features for new purposes, e.g., a plugin that molds XD into presentation software
We firmly believe that design tooling is a dialogue that is only going to become richer. And the Adobe Fund for Design Plugin Accelerator is our bet that this will yield huge dividends for designers everywhere. But just as importantly, we want this program to serve as a launching pad for our participants’ own product or business aspirations, a jumping off point for new careers and new ways of thinking about what design can be. In short, we want more voices in the conversation, more participation in tooling not just amongst designers and developers, but also amongst the people who don’t always see a distinction between the two.