These interactive, real-time collaboration tools make designers' work easier - wherever you are in the world.
A team of designers does not always work in the same office; you work in distributed groups, and clients can be based all over the world. This is where collaboration tools come in - they make it easier and faster for designers to get feedback and approve artwork in a professional manner.
These apps come in many varying formats, with some that are created specifically for designers, some that serve as a concept crafting whiteboard, those with tools to make simple annotations, and some are all-in-one web apps that include an element of project management.
Here we gather together 10 of the best available online tools to allow designers to take part in collaborational work in real time. The first five collaboration tools are for working on existing work and mock-ups, whereas the latter five (from 06. to 10.) are best used for concept drafting and brainstorming.
Cage is one of those collaboration tools that is specifically built for designers. The original Cage allowed you share images of designs and get contextual feedback on them, but in the latest iteration of the app collaboration is more comprehensive.
You can add tasks, approve files, and even have a more engaging experience by using web-based presentations. If project management features like to-do lists were included, this would virtually be a one-stop solution for designer collaboration.
If Cage is for gathering feedback on image-based works, Draftboard is designed for managing and collaborating on mock-ups - specifically Photoshop .psd files.
The overall layout and functions are almost the same as Cage, including annotation, managing multiple projects, and collaboration tools. It's a good, basic tool to share mock-ups, get feedback, and keep your team updated.
Canvasdropr is a file sharing and annotating tool that supports many filetypes, even including MS Office documents. The interface is very simple and easy to navigate.
All you see is a 'canvas' that can be used as a blank sheet of paper, and then files can be added either from your computer or using Google Drive, Instagram, Flickr, etc. AS collaboration tools go, it's great, and Canvasdropr also allows you make presentations and synchronize with mobile devices, including iPads.
No fancy features or price plans here - Marqueed is a free, simple tool to upload images and discuss them. You can add multiple images to the board plus labels and descriptions, and it allows you to easily make revisions. You can also grab any image on the web and drag it to Marqueed, which is a very practical feature.
Stixy is an online note tool for personal projects, co-workers, families and anyone who wants to gather resources, add to-dos and make comments and notes on those files.
It may not have been created specifically for designers, but designers can certainly use it to get feedback on images as well. Plus the drag-n-drop sticker-like notes and to-dos are very easy to use for managing simple schedules.
Mindmeister is a powerful mind-mapping tool, but also has the functionality of many collaboration tools. Designers can use this to craft ideas and concepts. It's maybe a bit quirky to organise a design idea through mind mapping, but this is still a great collaboration tool to try out.
Coming in at number seven in our collaboration tools list, ConceptBoard is an instant whiteboard tool for teams and projects. Creative designers can reap benefits by using this tool to collaborate as well. Inded, it's optimised for creatives and is more like a one-stop solution for crafting concepts, managing projects, and providing feedback at any time.
Think of this app as any whiteboard in a boardroom! GroupZap is a tool for you and your team to collaborate on ideas in real-time. It utilises a sticker system that is easy for anyone to use - you drop and move buttons and badges just like magnets on a whiteboard. It's definitely worth a try for brainstorming ideas.
Scribblar is more like a chat room - it even has audio available - and as such it is very useful indeed. Creative brainstorming and artwork revision can be collaborated in the 'room' you create. It's an effective online collaboration tool and is available for free.
BinFire is an all-round project management tool. It's described as being designed for team project follow-ups and collaboration, but the whiteboard and markup function make it useful for designers too. If you are looking for a collaboration tools that have powerful project management feature, this is the one to try.
Words: Justin He