It’s tough to replace spontaneous elbow-rubbing meetings when you’re working remotely—but it’s not impossible. Here are a few of the ways we create close collaboration between members of our far-flung design team.
1. Visualize your roadmap with Coggle (or Mindjet)
Before you dive into a project, it’s important to agree on a roadmap. And as creative professionals, it’s most intuitive to do this in a visual way rather than with lists—or even worse—spreadsheets.
Mindmapping tools like Coggle (free) and MindJet (paid) are powerful, but easy to use. Try one in real time to visualize processes, project flows, and related ideas with your team.
2. Integrate Trello with Slack
There seems to be a cloud-based collaboration tool born every day lately. But before you add another tool to your arsenal, make sure it plays nice with the tools you’re already using.
For example, we integrate our Trello boards with Slack to get real-time updates on the status of projects. That way, we can have fewer status meetings and there’s a clear place for people to go if they have questions, instead of interrupting others’ workflows.
3. Define your UX metrics in Google Docs
Whether you use Google’s HEART framework for metrics or the Goals-Signals-Metrics process for goals, using Google Docs to host and share your metrics will help you work faster and keep track of everyone’s work. Give everyone editing rights to make “living” documents that reflect everyone’s contributions.
(Or don’t—when I’m writing copy, I give people commenting rights, so they can weigh in without directly altering my wording. –Ed.)
It might also help to video chat so you can have richer conversations. We tend to use Google Hangouts, but Skype can work too.
4. Collaborate on UI and visual design with LiveShare
When you start collaborating on the UI and visual design, you need to be able to:
- Visualize what your team members are thinking
- Indicate what part of the design you’re discussing
- Hear other team member’s initial reactions
- Iterate quickly
- Keep track of comments and suggestions made in the meeting
Our advice? Try using InVision’s LiveShare. Yes, we’re tooting our own horn, but we use it all the time. LiveShare lets you open up your design in your browser and invite whoever you’d like to collaborate. Each person gets their own cursor and can either chat in the browser or call in to a conference line. If you get stuck on your current design, switch over to whiteboard mode to visualize your ideas.
5. Gather project feedback with Prezi
Once your project’s shipped, it’s important to recap. We’ve used Prezi to postmortem big projects with great success.
Invite everyone to a Prezi project and have each team member identify the following:
- What worked
- What could be improved
- How they’d grade the project
Then, take a few minutes to sort out the common themes and present.
What cloud collaboration tools do you use?
Of course, these are just the tools we use. Hit us up with your favorites @InVisionApp! And learn more on designing your remote process from Shopify’s Serena Ngai.
Margaret Kelsey leads content marketing at Appcues. Before Appcues, she built content programs for InVision’s design community for 3.5 years and has roots in painting and PR. She’s a big fan of puns, Blackbird Donuts, and Oxford commas—probably in that order.