5 new tools to help you collaborate better

When it comes to collaborating on a design project, the internet is a wonderful thing. We can be entire continents apart and yet still brainstorm creative ideas, produce designs and provide comments and feedback, all in real time. 

There are plenty of apps to help us too, many of them free. We previously listed our favourites in this roundup of the best online collaboration tools. But the design world doesn’t stay still for long, so here we’ve rounded up the best new and updated collaboration tools for 2016.

Have we missed out your favourites? Then please let us know in the comments below!

01. Figma

Figma lets you collaborate on interface design in real-time

Figma lets you collaborate on interface design in real-time

New for 2016, Figma is a collaborative tool for designing interfaces that’s built entirely in the browser. That means your entire team can work on a design simultaneously, on any computer that’s connected to the internet. 

Your work is constantly saved, and version control is included, so you’re able to easily access older versions of a design. You can use team-wide component libraries to share brand assets; set brand colours and use them consistently across your team; and let members of your team add comments directly on the design. 

Sign up to reserve your spot in the Preview Release of Figma here.

02. Frame.io

Frame.io calls itself the Github of video

Frame.io calls itself the Github of video

Having raised $10m in funding from the likes of Jared Leto and Kevin Spacey, Frame.io is a brand new collaboration tool for video creators.

Dubbing itself the Github of video, the app lets you upload footage, organise clips into storyboards, add comments and annotations, and share time-stamped and threaded comments with teams. 

What’s more, the beautifully designed app (it won a 2016 Apple Design Award) supports an impressive 150 different file formats, which saves a lot of time sending files back and forth and opening them up in different apps. You can sign up for free here

03. Mural

Mural lets remote collaborators visually brainstorm ideas together

Mural lets remote collaborators visually brainstorm ideas together

If you like to organise your thoughts visually, then this new tool aimed at “online brainstorming, synthesis and collaboration” may be one for you. 

Launched earlier this year, Mural lets you drag and drop rich media files, links, and documents onto a big online drawing board, to help you collect inspiration and gather thoughts. 

It also lets others join in in real time, allowing you and your fellow designers to brainstorm ideas without being in the same room or even the same country. You can try Mural free for 30 days here.

04. Slack desktop beta

Slack’s new desktop app makes inter-team messaging much faster

Slack’s new desktop app makes inter-team messaging much faster

Although it’s not specifically aimed at designers, the popular messaging app Slack has been enthusiastically adopted by design agencies across the world. And this September, its newly released desktop app has brought the Slack experience to a whole new level.

Released in beta, the desktop app has rebuilt Slack from the ground up, adding a massive speed boost and making both startup and team switching significantly faster. It also enables you to launch Slack straight from your dock, get desktop notifications and sign in to multiple teams.

You can download the desktop beta for free here.

05. Flock 2.0

Flock is hot on the heels of Slack with its recent update

Flock is hot on the heels of Slack with its recent update

It’s not surprising that the makers of Slack are working hard to improve life for its users, because there are plenty of rivals hot on its heels. And the latest contender to bid for a slice of the market is an app called Flock.

Flock is actually older than Slack but only recently decided to reorient itself towards enterprise use. It aims to offer an alternative to Slack with what it says are faster speeds, a slicker interface and deeper app integration. 

Flock launched in version 2 in September, an update that significantly boosts collaborative features, most notably adding multiple teams, which anyone can create using company or free domain email. It’s available to download for free here.

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Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.