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Pivot Etc.

Reflecting on 25 years: A refreshed UI for Autodesk Maya

April 24, 2024 3 minute read

Pivot takes a look back at 12 very special projects to mark 25 years serving their clients

Autodesk is a world leader in 3-D design, engineering and entertainment software and services. With an expanding marketplace, Autodesk needed its core 3-D animation and modeling software, Maya, to remain competitive. In 2015, Autodesk approached Pivot to improve Maya’s user interface.

Over time, Autodesk had added functions to Maya without consideration for a cohesive visual language in the user experience. This resulted in a busy, disorganized interface that was intimidating to new users; it was difficult to learn and navigate. Together, we determined that Autodesk needed to make Maya user friendly for novice users, without alienating experts who are familiar with the interface.

The resulting changes to Maya were subtle yet monumental. By removing unnecessary textures, gradients and lines, the interface became much cleaner, allowing for the user to focus on their work, rather than the interface surrounding it. Adjustments to typography allowed for a more definitive hierarchy of information, while changes to the colour scheme made the work canvas the focal point.

In April 2015, Autodesk released a demo video previewing Maya’s new look-and-feel for the software’s 2016 release—many of our recommendations were included in this. This update to Maya’s interface laid the groundwork for improvement in subsequent years, helping to shape the company’s vision for visual consistency across its complete product line. 

As of writing (April 2024), the demo for the 2025 version of Maya has been released. While there has certainly been a progression with the interface design, as to be expected, the original bones are still there!