There are a lot of stakeholders that get involved in creative projects to review, edit and approve design work. The list of such stakeholders is pretty extensive and may include: designers, developers, editors, marketing managers as well as internal and external clients. In fact, everyone that has anything to do with a brand or a product may at some point have an input on creative work.
Collaboration between all involved parties typically means using emails, shared folders and writing boards. In fact, until recently, there have not existed many online tools that would allow for easy online collaboration. That has changed rapidly in the last few years – while the variety of available collaboration software has grown rapidly, the costs associated with using such tools have gone down dramatically.
Below are examples of five websites, which allow multiple stakeholders to work on creative projects online. Not only are these selected collaboration tools easy to learn and navigate, they are also free or very cheap to use. Hence, they can be a superb benefit to a small business, which spends carefully every penny or, in fact, for any company that regularly works on design projects.
This is an actual online board, which enables users to upload images and then allows multiple people to add virtual post notes to it in real-time. Each Murally board can contain tens of image files and users can post numerous comments on every one of them. Useful feature of this tool is that all content can be uploaded by simple drag and drop and can be pulled from multiple sources – video platforms, social networks or email. In addition, every project can be organized to creators’ preferenceand elements can be moved freely around a board.
Mural.ly was only launched in September of last year and it is still in Beta stages. At this time, the platform has a free and two paid options although the free account already allows for unlimited murals and collaborators. The paid accounts are only $5 or $30 per month, which seems like a steal for the value that the tool delivers.
Invision allows an easy way to build design mock-ups of websites, apps or games. Basically, you can upload many high resolution images of pages or frames and then link between them or to external resources using hotspots. If you do a website redesign project, for example, you can upload all new pages into Invision and then test user journeys without writing one piece of code. The tool lets users add comments as well as enables them to download individual projects as images or PDFs.
You can even view stats for each project such as number of views, users, number of comments, time per view and screens per view. These can very useful if you want to perform marketing/customer research and run A/B tests to compare several different designs. You can use Invision for free (which gets you 1 active project) or you can get a paid membership with 3 ($15/mo), 5 ($25/mo), 15 ($50/mo) or 30 ($100/mo) active projects.
This is a very simple and totally free online app that lets you quickly share creative ideas with many people. You enter a URL or upload an image, add notes to it and then save the whole thing as a URL again. The screenshot with comments can be shared on social media directly via Bounce and the whole process does not require registration or login.
The company behind Bounceapp (ZURB) has come up with several similar free apps, which allow users to manipulate website screenshots. These include Axe (lets you cut out elements of an image) and Spur(which lets you manipulate a screenshot in multiple ways). ZURB has also developed some more advanced (and paid) software to present graphics and gather feedback and called: Notable, Verify and Influence.
Cage is a complex online tool that lets you upload various media files (images and videos) and create projects around them including to-do-lists, scheduling, commenting and more. It can be used and managed by designers as well project managers, SEOs or really anybody who has interest in a particular design project. Users and their permissions can be easily added or removed meaning Cage is a useful product to collaborate with both, internal and external teams.
Cage offers a free trial on all of its accounts, but you will need to pay to use it after the initial 15 day window is over. The basic account costs $24 per month and allows you to play with 1GB of data and to create unlimited number of projects, tasks, notes, clients and approvals. The platform offers full SSL security, which adds piece of mind when working with clients on privacy-sensitive projects.
5. Google Drawing
Part of the Google Docs suite, Google Drawing enables multiple people to work in real-time on the same graphic. All you need to use it is a Google/Gmail account and there is no limit as to how many files you create and work on. The actual drawing and editing options are pretty basic, but the tool is invaluable when it comes to collaborating with multiple stakeholders and sharing content online.
You can actually use graphics created in Google Drawing in other Google Docs: presentations, spread sheets or text documents. Exporting and sharing drawings is also easy and works just like with other Docs – you can download files as a PNGs, PDFs, JPEGs, SVGs or share them as a public or private URLs. And, just like with the other tools mentioned above, Google Drawing allows users to provide live feedback to every drawing.
Lucjan Zaborowski is a consultant at Simply Business, advising the company on online optimization and user experience projects. He has worked with firms in the United States, Poland, and the United Kingdom on growing their online presence via lean strategy.