While modern teams are more distributed than ever before, working togther has never been easier. No matter what industry you’re in, there are a ton of collaboration tools available to streamline communications, share knowledge and visualize progress. And things are no different in the world of design – from centralizing all feedback and coordinating with developers, to producing design templates that non-design colleagues can easily use. Here are the six essential design collaboration tools beloved by our design team.
Brainstorming ideas is one of the first stages of the design process, but when you work remotely it isn’t always easy. Mural helps to solve the problems posed by virtual collaboration by gathering and storing inspiration and feedback in one place. It uses an attractive whiteboard-style design tohelp people share their ideas visually. You can drag and drop all the media files, links and docs that best illustrate your ideas, and then invite people to edit and collaborate. One of Mural’s best features is its real-time updates and voice note capabilities, which work really well for brainstorming: you can have lively debates with colleagues from opposite sides of the world!
2. Zeplin – for annotations and delivery to engineers
From idea inititation until the very end of production, designers and developers need to work together seamlessly. To help you out here there’s Zeplin, a collaboration tool that keeps everyone on the same page. You can export and store designs in Zeplin projects, and then organize them in the cloud all under one roof. Zeplin also integrate easily with Slack, so everyone involved in a project can easily access the latest design resources and get notified of any changes. This handy tool also allows you to add annotations directly onto designs to communicate ideas, ask for feedback, or request technical information or help. Thoughtful color categorization helps you stay on top of your notes, resolving them once you're finished.
Virtual collaboration is rarely as good as being in the same room as your team, bouncing ideas off each other and discussing how things will work. But Figma goes a huge way to level the playing field and simplify creative work. Aimed mainly at UI designers, Figma enables entire teams to work on UI designs at the same time using shared brand assets, for a super simple creative process. Updates are continually saved, so you don’t have to worry about someone coming in and accidentally wiping off your work – everyone owns their part of the design process and stays in sync every step of the way.
Design projects can be long and complex, so keeping track of everything can be a bit of a minefield. Using an automatic time tracker like Timely not only documents every bit of work that’s been done, but also captures the time spent on each individual task. It helps you assess project profitability, monitor budget spend, improve project plans and set better rates for future work – not to mention actually bill clients accurately. Timely is also great for resource allocation: individual availability, overtime, current activity and workload can all be grasped in an instant. The best bit? You don’t have to worry about keeping tabs on things; its automatic tracker runs in the background so you can just can get on with work.
5. InVision – for prototyping and creating mock-ups
InVision is one of the best known design collaboration tools, and for good reason. Created specifically for designers, InVision allows you to import your designs and then turn them into clickable prototypes. If you’re working with teams from all different categories – be it marketing, sales or management – InVision makes it super easy for everyone to evaluate ideas before committing anything to code, so you don’t duplicate any effort. Stakeholders can provide direct feedback on designs, and stay updated with all new developments using the tool’s real-time to-do lists. From the initial design upload to final feedback, InVision helps make collaboration seamless.
If you like the drag-and-drop capabilities and whiteboard visuals of Mural, then check out the project management tool Conceptboard. Although it’s geared towards teams and projects, it’s also popular with designers because of how easy it makes collaboration: you can quickly craft concepts, share ideas, add comments and notes, upload files, and give feedback. It’s cloud-based, so all your project data is stored in one single place, and categorized in folders for easy reference. All your documents and information are instantly available, allowing team members to access, edit and annotate from anywhere on any device. Easy communication makes it the ideal platform for collaborative visual design work.