One part productivity insanity and two parts sheer creative flow, Adobe's annual Creative Jam sessions have become a spectacle of any sane designer's nightmare – get this freaking full app design done in three hours. But indeed, ten groups of two designers each decided to take it as a challenge with the single goal to claim victory at the end.

The theme at this year's San Diego Creative Jam was an app with the theme "Poke the Bear". No other guidance, budgets, timelines, or creative briefs in-hand. You have complete freedom to translate the idea to any type of app as you please, building it out as an Adobe XD experience. We witnessed apps created for fundraising, for finding things to do in town, and even a tool to promote geo-caching. But our most favorite app, the one created by EFM's very own Sr. UI Designer, Colt Solano, took the cake. It also took home a 1st Place Judge's Award.

He created a three-phased alarm app that allows the user to select between three settings. Hug the Bear. Cuddle the Bear. Poke the Bear. Each with a tiered level from a peaceful wake from your slumber all the way up to a frightening, get your butt out of bed, wake up call. You can see it for yourself here.

The simplicity of the app relies on just three settings, a timer to set the alarm, and a simple swipe to browse through all three to make your decision before daybreak. Graphics and associated sounds would shift depending on the option you've chosen. 

Coming Up With The Idea

How did you get to your idea?
I focused on what "poke the bear" meant and tried to think of anything that annoyed me the most on a daily basis. First thing that came to mind is being abruptly woken up by an alarm clock. That then lead me to the idea of designing a three-phased alarm clock mobile application.

What ideas did you kill off?
I thought of something more related to nature. But, that is something someone would not use so often. So I killed that idea right away.

What finally made you decide this was the idea you wanted to pursue?
One, I'm running out of time to think of other ideas. Two, alarm clock is something simple that I can design in 3 hours and there are a lot of fun ways to integrate with an alarm clock. I can also see myself using this app regularly.

We noticed you were a team of one – was this an advantage or disadvantage?
It seems like it was an advantage at first. Because there's no one to argue with, you work at your own pace, and no one disagrees with you. But then you quickly realized you're f'd after seeing the full spectrum of work that you're about to deal with in 3 hours. And that's when I developed a lot of stress-related diseases.

How did you start getting the idea to come to life?
I use my alarm clock on my phone everyday and I never really paid attention to how much alarm options and settings were in there. So I stripped out all the settings I have never used and it left me with the basic time settings. From there, I started incorporating some fun ways to go with the "Poke the Bear" theme.


A Lesson In Three Hours

Would you do this again?
I would definitely do it again. It's an opportunity for every creative to practice and validate their skill set at the same time. From conceptualization to design, to time management, and to presentation. Also, it's amazing to see how other creatives work under pressure and come up with different ideas coming from the same theme.

What did you learn through the whole process?
Stay hydrated and KEEP IT SIMPLE. But of course it is easier said than done considering myself as my own worst critic. Throughout the process I kept reminding myself to keep it simple and not go overboard with my idea. Also, stick with your timeline. I made sure to stop designing 30 minutes prior to the deadline. This let me have enough time to prototype, QA and prep myself for presentation.

What would you have done differently?
Find a teammate and bring a pair of headphones. So people don't walk up to you and try to make conversations while you're struggling to get your work done.

What advice would you give to the next person?
1. Be prepared before competing. Make sure you know where to get inspirations and assets.
2. Establish your timeline. Set time to conceptualize, to design, and to review.
3. Know your audience. Make sure the audience will appreciate or better yet relate to your idea. Keeping it light and funny in my opinion might help get their attention.
4. Pick the right seat. Make sure to get the seat that has the least foot traffic. The venue can get really crowded and it's hard to work while people hover around you.
5. Again, stay hydrated and KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Thanks To Adobe

Thank you to the Adobe Creative Jam team for bringing together the creative community for such a unique opportunity. If you're interested in participating, you can find more information about upcoming events on the Adobe Creative Jam site.

And if you're interested in pursuing a digital experience with our EFM Team (we promise Colt will be there), you can contact us here:

Congrats again, Colt!