When you’re working with a remote team, figuring out how to collaborate is essential to being productive and ensuring the client receives the result they want. The easier you can make the process for the people involved in adding to the project, making decisions or finalizing details, the more smoothly everything will run.

People who work in collaboration on a project tend to perform at a higher level. In one study, those who worked collaboratively on a task worked about 64 percent longer than those who were working alone.

However, today’s global workplace means that you may have people with different expertise working from all corners of the world. When some of the work is farmed out and some is in-house, you must collaborate with clients — and design sharing applications become a vital part of the process. Below are six design sharing applications that you should consider using:

1. InVision

The InVision V7 app is a newly redesigned app, but they offer an early invitation for those who want to give it a try. Some of the features you can expect from their new redesign include:

  • Spaces – organize documents related to a project so they are easy to access.
  • Create user roles, so you can share prototypes with clients without them seeing in-house conversations.
  • Built-in basic design tools, so you don’t have to leave the app to make a color change or crop an image.

They claim the new design collaboration platform is up to eight times faster than the old one. Some of their customers include SoundCloud, Prezi and Evernote. The advantage to this platform seems to be the speed at which participants can complete edits — work in real-time with team members in other locations.

Cost: Free (the site states that sign-up is free and free forever, with no credit card required)

2. Markly

If your team already utilizes Google Drive to share documents and collaborate, Markly integrates with Google and allows you to have a more streamlined approach to sharing. Features of Markly include:

  • Works as a plugin for Sketch and Photoshop.
  • Gain the ability to organize files into projects.
  • Sync automatically with Google.
  • Archive finished projects for storage.
  • Inviting new users is as simple as adding an email address to your team.

Markly is beneficial for very small startups who want to use a free resource to get started with their first client.

Cost: Free for a single project. The price to purchase the app beyond that is listed as $49.99 on various websites, but Markly does not list a price publicly on their home page.

3. Slack

There are times when you don’t necessarily need to outright work on a design, but you need to brainstorm or discuss client strategy with the rest of the team. Slack is an app that allows everyone to see announcements or to ask questions and discuss various aspects of a project. It is set up similar to many social media sites, but you are able to:

  • Organize conversations with one person or more.
  • Upload files and attach them to a conversation for examples or on-the-fly edits.
  • Search for a specific file or message that has been lost in the wilderness of messages.
  • Integrate with mobile usage, allowing team members to receive notifications anytime and anywhere.

Some of the companies utilizing Slack include Harvard University, Oracle and Ticketmaster. One of the major benefits to Slack for designers is that everything is in one location, even though the actual design work is likely completed via design software.

Cost: Three plans available:

Free:

  • Up to 10,000 searches per month
  • Up to 10 integrations/apps

Standard:

  • $6.67 per user/per month
  • Unlimited searches
  • Unlimited apps

Plus:

  • $12.50 per user/per month
  • 24/7 support
  • Compliance reports and archiving for legal obligations for some types of businesses

4. Red Pen

Need a fast and easy way to share a design with a client and get feedback? Red Pen is an option you might want to look into. Depending on the client, there are times when offering too many options for them to give you feedback muddies the water. By making the process quick, you can get a fast decision on a color palette or typography without having the client pick apart other aspects that might not be quite ready to look at yet.

Red Pen has the following features:

  • Drag and drop your design for viewing.
  • Leave a quick note.
  • Invite others to share feedback.

The platform acts a bit like instant messaging, where the notes from other collaborators pop up almost immediately. You can also upload and track different versions of a project.

Cost: Free 14-day trial and then a charge based on the number of projects at a time.

  • $20/month for 5 projects at a time
  • $30/month for 10 projects at a time
  • $60/month for 25 projects at a time
  • $90/month for 40 projects at a time

5. RealtimeBoard

One of the exciting things about RealtimeBoard is that you can collect a variety of visual references and then add notes to them. This collaboration whiteboard is used by more than 1.5 million people and companies such as Ipreo, VistaPrint and Autodesk. Features include:

  • Use the whiteboard for things such as mockups or jotting ideas. Everyone on the team can easily add input with Post-it notes.
  • Add images and documents for everyone to see or integrate into a library of resources for team members.
  • Comes with pre-loaded templates.

Cost: RealtimeBoard offers three pricing plans:

Free:

  • For small projects that need three or fewer boards.
  • Guests can view.
  • Integrates with Slack.

Team:

  • $40/month with unlimited boards.
  • Guests can comment.
  • Custom templates.
  • Screen sharing.

Company:

  • Price varies based on needs.
  • For companies with 50 or more team members.
  • Advanced security.
  • Other customizations as needed.

6. Go Visually

GoVisually is another design collaboration tool worth looking into. You can easily add team members, clients and those you want to review the design. Each person can point to the area on the visual they want to comment on and mark up changes and add thoughts. Benefits of GoVisually include:

  • You can work with just about any type of image file, including PDF and PSD.
  • Comments are both threaded and time-stamped to allow you to easily look back on what you’ve discussed before and what is the latest thinking on a project.
  • Integrates with Slack.

Cost: Price varies by plan.

Solo:

  • $12/month for one user.
  • Up to 10 projects.
  • Unlimited collaborators.

Agency:

  • $49/month for up to 10 users.
  • Unlimited projects.
  • Unlimited collaborators.
  • Ability to custom brand the platform.
  • Export comments.

Agency Plus:

  • $99/month for up to 30 users.
  • Everything included with Agency plan.
  • Priority support.

Design Sharing Applications Make Life Easier

Design sharing applications take your work to the next level. They allow you to easily share your ideas, get feedback and work seamlessly with both team members and clients. Tools like the ones listed above allow you to be more productive and serve more clients, which can help your business grow.

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