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Washington State University Entrepreneurship

Creative Jam+

This is an event summary and resource guide for student teams participating in the Spring 2021 WSU Adobe Creative Jam+ competition.

Creative Jam+

The WSU Adobe Creative Jam+ challenges teams of two to four students to identify a real-world need and develop an innovative solution that demonstrates a digital service or mobile app product that is core to a business idea or provides ongoing revenue, donations, or volunteers for a cause.

  • The challenge for the Spring 2021 was to propose a business concept that capitalizes the opportunities presented by the “new normal“ after COVID-19.
  • Creative Jam Participant Guide – Key information provided by Adobe including resources for learning Adobe XD, and important tips and details for teams as they complete their prototypes, develop their presentations, and ready their entry for the competition.

Watch the Finale Event

On March 16, 2021, over 175 WSU students and faculty participated in the Spring 2021 WSU Adobe Creative Jam+ Finale event. Six teams presented to a panel of industry professionals – Kimberly Fox (Extra Margin), Bryan Saftler (Microsoft), and Danny Navarro (Google). All finalist teams received a free 12-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Creative Jam Plus - Finale Graphic

Watch the Kickoff Event

On February 10, 2021, over 100 WSU students and faculty participated in the Spring 2021 WSU Adobe Creative Jam+ Kickoff event. The event begins with two inspirational talks from two successful industry professionals –  Suzanne McKenzie (Able Made) and Dan Hardin (Whipsaw). Student teams then receive a challenge to develop a business concept and mobile app design that capitalizes on how they envision what the “new normal“ will look like after COVID-19. Then, students receive a 1-hour training on Adobe XD from professional trainers provided by Adobe. All student participants received a free, 12-month license for Adobe XD.

Creative Jam Plus - Finale Graphic

Resources for Student Teams

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is the powerful yet easy-to-learn tool that student teams use to design their working prototype and to create their presentation for the competition.

  • XD Creative Jam Resources – An essential collection of tutorials, videos, UI kits, and other valuable resources created for Creative Jam participants by the Adobe team.
  • Let’s XD – A great website developed by Howard Pinsky, who is a Senior XD Evangelist at Adobe. Learn Adobe XD with in-depth tutorials and quick tips and tricks.
  • Creative Jam Live Channel – The official YouTube channel for Adobe Creative Jam Live. The site features videos by Donna Caldwell, a Senior Solutions Consultant at Adobe who runs the Creative Jam Bootcamp training.

Understanding Customers and Their Needs

People are at the heart of every great product, service, or cause. Creating a unique solution starts with understanding the people who will use it.  Successful teams seek to fully understand the life situation in which their product will be used and establish empathy with their potential customers. Developing value propositions and customer personas are two ways to build empathy and will provide a solid foundation for the design process.

  • Value Proposition Canvas (by Strategyzer) – A value proposition is a promise to a customer of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged when they engage with your company and its products and services. In the design process, working together as a team to develop a value proposition helps you align customer needs to the features and benefits of your product. The Strategizer blog has many useful articles on conducting customer research and developing value propositions.
  • A Closer Look At Personas: What They Are And How They Work – Customer personas are a representation of your ideal customer based on market research about your customers. Personas focus on the “why” of customer behavior, to explain their motivations and expectations when they engage with a company, product, or service. Working as a team to develop personas helps establish empathy through the transformation of data and insights into a fictional “person,” which serves as a stand-in for real potential customers. This two-part article by interaction designer Shlomo Goltz explains how to develop personas and use them in the design process.
  • Customer Profile Template (.docx file) – Use this profile template to develop a basic customer persona that includes a description, needs, pain points, and purchasing behaviors. There are dozens of other persona templates available online (Google: “customer persona template”)

You should use the information from your value proposition and/or customer personas in your Visual Narrative for your Creative Jam+ entry to demonstrate your understanding of the customer and their needs. If you decide to enter the WSU Business Plan Competition, you can expand your understanding of your customer by researching the broader Market Opportunity based on the customer you identified in the Creative Jam+.

Creating a Unique Solution

Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea,” but he clearly never saw the presentations at a Creative Jam! Yet, it is true that you can learn a lot from understanding what has been tried before, what has been successful, and looking for ways to improve on something that is already working. Early in the design process, your team should research what companies offer solutions to your potential customers and what makes those companies successful. Look for ways to position your online service or mobile app as a truly unique solution.

  • 600+ decks from the world’s best startups – See how hundreds of companies told the story of how their new product or service would improve lives and change the world. These examples illustrate the importance of constructing a clear narrative around your company or cause.
  • A Complete Guide to Successful Brand Positioning – This article on HubSpot takes an in-depth look at how companies develop unique brands in a very crowded and competitive global market.

After you’ve defined your customer and their needs, your Visual Narrative for Creative Jam+ should explain how your online service or mobile app is uniquely positioned as the best fit to solve those customers’ problems. This will also position your team to enter your product and fledging design into the WSU Business Plan Competition. You’ll just need to do a bit more research into your competitors and translate your brand into a Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy. Luckily, WSU Alum and Microsoft marketing director, Bryan Saftler demystifies this process in his Resource Night talk – What the **** is GTM?

Designing an Intuitive User Experience

User experience design is a discipline that can take years to learn and a career to master. Now, next-generation digital tools like Adobe XD empower designers and non-designers alike to create professional interface designs and presentations. Adding a bit of knowledge about User Experience (UX) to your digital skills toolset will give you the winning combination you need to make your web service or mobile application design stand out from the rest. Take some time to learn few “design patterns” that are common in most mobile applications and see how they are applied in some award-winning apps.

  • A Step-By-Step Guide To User Experience (UX) Patterns – In this article, Dawn Schlecht introduces the concept of UX patterns and how you can incorporate them into your design process to improve the usability of your online service or mobile app product.
  • 13 basic mobile UI patterns to know about – Not sure where to start, this article identifies the “must-have” screens that your mobile app should have to meet user expectations and provide basic functionality found in most apps.
  • UI Patterns – A collection of common UX Patterns to help you design your user experience.
  • 2020 Apple Design Award Winners – Looking for some inspiration? These eight mobile apps were selected as the top eight from hundreds available through the Apple store. Need more inspiration? (Google: “mobile app design winners” or “top mobile app designs”)

First impressions matter and your best way to make a good impression in Creative Jam+ is to design your Prototype so it is easy for customers (and the judges) to understand your app and how it works. Adobe XD makes it easy to share your design with others to test if it works and make sure it isn’t confusing. You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression with the judges, so take the time to test (and retest, and retest) your design with anyone who will take the time. And don’t forget, your Visual Narrative is a “user experience,” too! You can even consider your Digital Prototype and Visual Narrative as a single user experience from the judge’s perspective. Once you finish your Creative Jam+ entry, you’ll have a real, functioning prototype of your web service or mobile app. In the context of the WSU Business Plan Competition, your Prototype is proof of your concept having Traction, which means your idea is gaining momentum toward becoming a viable business!

Presenting a Meaningful Visual Design

Brand expert, Seth Godin, says this about brands – “I believe that ‘brand’ is a stand-in, a euphemism, a shortcut for a whole bunch of expectations, worldview connections, experiences and promises that a product or service makes…” Given this context, consider what expectations and meaning will your app will create through its brand and visual design? And, how do you ensure this impression is purposeful and not left to chance or personal preference? The answer is in gaining at least a basic understanding of how people construct meanings from brands and visual design.

The dozens of UI Kits available for Adobe XD make it easy to apply a consistent theme and visual brand to your Prototype, but before you jump into the design process make sure you first understand the meaning conveyed by your visual design. Once you have a visual language for your brand (logo, color palette, typography, icons, photography style, and other graphic elements), make sure that it is consistently applied to your Prototype and to your Visual Narrative. Having a clear and consistent visual brand is another demonstration of Traction, which elevates your concept to the level of professionalism expected in both Creative Jam+ and the WSU Business Plan Competition.

Take It to the Next Level

So, you’ve finished your Prototype and Visual Narrative for Creative Jam+. What’s next? Tap into the creative energy and collective momentum from the experience to take your team (and possibly your career) to the next level!

WSU Business Plan Competition

If you haven’t figured it out by now, participating in the Creative Jam+ puts your team in a strong position to join the WSU Business Plan Competition. Of course, your team isn’t required to join the BPC and you should know that placing, and even submitting an entry in the Creative Jam+ is a huge accomplishment that you can share with future employers. However, if your team wants to practice entrepreneurship in a real-world setting, receive guidance from industry experts, and compete for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prize money, the WSU Business Plan Competition is the best step you can take toward making your vision a reality.

AdobeMAX Conference: Adobe XD Sessions

Is your team ready to take level-up your digital skills and turn your Creative Jam+ entry into the innovative mobile app it was always destined to become? In 2020, the annual AdobeMAX Conference went virtual, so now all of the conference sessions are available for free online! This is your chance to learn next-level digital skills from industry-leading design professionals through dozens of tutorials and other instructional videos on Adobe XD. Oh…and it’s all free.

AdobeMAX banner

What is Creative Jam+?

Project Assets

Challenge Brief
The brief includes the details of the challenge, which Adobe presented to students during the kickoff event. Includes all project requirements and recommendations for getting started.
Adobe Sign Library
Download this library file containing images for Adode Sign. Then, import it into Adobe XD to use the images in your project.

Media Coverage

Group wins creative jam for app development (Daily Evergreen)

Students will create solutions to serve community (Daily Evergreen)

Competition Schedule

Kickoff/Bootcamp

Wednesday, February 10 @ 6:00 pm PT

Students received valuable software training in Adobe XD, listened to entrepreneurs, and received the competition challenge.

WATCH THE KICKOFF EVENT

Working Time

February 11 – March 8

Teams work virtually to design their digital solutions.

Submissions are due on Monday, March 8 @ 10am PT

Finale

Tuesday, March 16 @ 6:00 pm PT

The 2-hour presentation and awards ceremony to determine which teams make it to the finals and present their work live on-screen to industry professionals and Adobe judges.

Creative Resources

Here is a list of resources for images, video, and audio that you can use to develop content for your website and social media channels.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you properly cite ALL media that you use, based on the licensing and citation requirements attached to each resource.