A New Kind of DIY:
The Home Depot Creative Jam
Fostering creativity, collaboration and learning.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) is about embracing the good, the bad and the ugly. For many, it’s a way of life. The Home Depot is akin to the godfather of DIY and home improvement projects everywhere, and creativity is key to their business. So, what happens when DIY meets a craving for creativity? A Creative Jam.
Adobe developed Creative Jams as an event series where members of a creative community come together in a fun, competitive environment that breaks out of day-to-day workplace routines. Think of it as a workshop for breaking patterns and exploring new possibilities.
“We wanted our team to walk away with a new way of working together, prototyping, and coming up with great ideas,” Paul Stonick, director of online user experience at The Home Depot said. “The Creative Jam also was an opportunity to see how other departments work and how they approach and solve problems. It’s all about collaboration, learning, and exposure to new tools.”
Anatomy of the Jam
“Our focus is always towards improving the customer experience,” says Eli Ferrer, manager of Online Art Direction for .com at The Home Depot. “And we know that breaking down silos and collaborating on projects is essential for that improvement and producing exceptional work.”
Each Creative Jam begins with an instructional bootcamp for designers who will be participating in the day’s design challenges. Here they are briefed on the tools they will be using to create their final projects. This is an opportunity for designers to ask questions and familiarize themselves with new tools and workflows.
“My favorite part of the day was the bootcamp,” Danny Brosche, lead designer at The Home Depot, said. “It was definitely a crash course, but it was a good way to learn and experience the design tools firsthand.”
For the design challenge, participants are placed into small teams — typically made up of 2-3 participants. During the next three hours, the teams iterate on the Jam theme in their category and develop a design to share.
The Home Depot’s design challenge was broken down into three categories:
- UX/UI Design with Adobe XD
- Social Campaign design with Adobe Spark
- Graphic Design with Adobe Dimension, Adobe Capture and Adobe Stock
Designers present their final projects not only to a panel of judges, but also to an audience of their peers, creative experts and company executives. Both the audience and the judges award a winner in each category. The day closes with keynote speakers from luminaries in the design community.
Encouraging an environment of collaboration
The Creative Jam’s unique format gave The Home Depot an opportunity to embrace community collaboration. “Bringing together people from interdisciplinary backgrounds means you’re able to get a wider lens and a broader scope in the project space,” said Brooke Creef, user experience lead architect. “You’re able to get on the same page faster and identify risks earlier in the process. It helps to create a more open-minded, innovative solution.”
Through the design challenges, individuals were able to be on teams with people they normally wouldn’t interact with during the average work day. Because of this environment, methods of approaching and solving problems were shared and silos were breached.
“By learning how people from different departments think, and introducing those methodologies into our own workflows, I think we’re able to not only tackle difficult problems in our own day-to-day work, but also tackle bigger challenges as an organization in a shorter time period,” Eli said.
Expanding skill sets and design knowledge
An enterprise Creative Jam also gives participants dedicated time to learn about, explore, and create with applications they aren’t familiar with or haven’t been exposed to before. Ashley Rhoden, e-content designer for The Home Depot, said, “There’s a couple of software applications that I have seen in the Creative Cloud list of apps but haven’t really had time to explore — like Adobe Dimension, for example. After the presentation today, all I could think was, ‘As soon as I go home I’m going to try that.’”
The event also allowed departments to test new solutions in a way that they might not have the time or resources for during a typical workday. One of the tools they were anxious to engage with was Adobe XD. “Currently, we’re using three different tools to solve a problem,” says Paul. “We’re hoping XD might provide a holistic solution for what we’re doing in our day-to-day UX and UI design. If it does, it would also align us better with our creative team that uses Adobe applications every day.”
Creative teams were able to explore how these applications could speed their workflows and improve collaboration. “I used to think that making wireframes was really easy in Illustrator, and it is,” says Ashley, “but now with XD it is somehow even more intuitive and easy — with the added benefit of being able to prototype.”
By gathering together for a day of learning and experimentation, The Home Depot was able to provide an opportunity for employees to take their creative collaboration to the next level.
“An event like this helps me feel appreciated as a creative. It makes me feel like what I do is important,” says Ashley. “It also helps foster creative thinking across the board because being creative isn’t just limited to aesthetic — it’s also how you think.”
“I think the primary benefit of this experience was to inspire people and make them aware of the tools and applications that are available for them to succeed,” says Thom Lucarelli, senior director, National Creative/Brand for The Home Depot. “When they’re successful in their job, we’re successful as a company.”