Locked down and working from home doesn’t have to mean working alone in isolation. Great ideas and solutions spawn from chit-chat and brainstorming. When the first UK lockdown hit, we wondered how we would maintain the creative flow of energy and conversation that we needed to thrive. Now in lockdown 3.0, our creative team have really found the perfect balance for us across collaborative processes and tools. We wanted to share so that other creative teams can benefit too.
Here are some tools that helped us brainstorm, create, adapt and launch new work:
Over the last year we’ve waved goodbye to using sketch, and jumped headfirst into the world of Figma. Why? Well, because it’s one of the best collaborative tools for designers. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it is the best tool for web designers full stop. Any creative team who need to collaborate on a project but are working remotely should be using Figma. Here’s why:
It’s cloud based. You can literally access your work from anywhere, on any computer. You don’t need to download or install any software (although of course you can download the desktop app to make life even easier).
- You don’t need to worry about saving things to the drive. No more awful naming conventions Final_Final_FINAL.sketch. It autosaves everything and keeps a version history for you.
- It’s fast, because it’s cloud based. You don’t have to wait for a colleague to upload it to the drive, so that you can download it.
Multiple collaborators can work together. Everyone is on the same page. Literally. It’s as simple as that. You can co-design together. You can see who is working on the board, and if you’re really nosey, you can follow them with observer mode.
- It’s not just a collaboration between the designers. You can invite people to view, comment and edit. Great for content writers, clients, project managers and especially developers.
- Developers and clients love working with it. This is a massive bonus for us. We don’t need to rely on Zeplin as it has built in developer tools. We don’t have to rely on InVision because we can prototype and send the client the Figma link. This is a one-stop-shop with everything everyone on the project needs to get going.
The champion of online brainstorming tools. This little bit of tech has transformed the way we collaborate remotely (there are other equally helpful tools, such as Mural, but we’ve taken to using Miro).
At the beginning of lockdown we would have video meetings and found it a struggle to get everyone involved. Perhaps fear of speaking out or just the unfamiliarity of the whole situation? Either way, we needed a solution to make everyone feel comfortable during workshops and found it with Miro.
Miro is essentially an online whiteboard, mirroring the real-life brainstorming we were all used to when we worked in an office. You have all the essential tools, like post-it notes of course, but also wireframing tools, drawing and text.
As a host you can set timers for set tasks, you can pull collaborators in so that everyone on the board is viewing the same material – very handy when it comes to facilitating a meeting or a creative workshop.
This is kind of a given, so I do apologize. Having said that, some businesses are against using it because the instant messaging could be seen as distracting. Distractions are a negative, but luckily you can turn off notifications, set your profile to busy and of course just close down the app. Personally, I think Slack has been imperative to maintaining conversations and relationships during lockdown. It’s informal and encourages regular flow of conversation. We’ve been able to chat to people across our group, irrespective of the different agencies they work for.
Another great web and app based design tool. It has an amazing range of templates for things like presentations, flyers and social media. I have to be honest, as a designer, part of me feels like I’m cheating slightly when I use this tool. But work smart, not hard right? If we are busy but still need to produce great social media content, then we have used this tool.
- It’s great for inspiration. There are a tonne of different styles, templates and examples. So even if you don’t use it to create, you can always use it to get you going.
- It’s a time saver. If your creative team is slammed with client work, you can rely on Canva to quickly build consistent and professional assets. If you set up templates with your brand colours and fonts, then it only takes a few seconds to edit a post and get it out of the door.
- Same with Figma – it’s web-based. So you can have multiple contributors working together under one account. You don’t have to save files to the drive. It’s great for working from home.
These tools have really helped to drive us forward and maintain a great level of collaboration whilst working home home. Let us know if you have any great examples of other tools we may not be using.