Project Management and Collaboration Tools
Larger marketing teams with a wider variety of projects need more robust project management tools than design-only teams. Some features remain necessary, such as assigning tasks to certain project members, retaining documents, and conversing directly with other teammates. Still, general project management software is unlikely to have robust features that shine for design teams.
You’ve heard of Asana. It’s one of the top work management tools on the market. With various built-in ways to organize and visualize work, Asana keeps every person in a project on the same page. Depending on the size of your team and how much functionality you want, Asana can run a bit on the expensive side. However, there are nearly unlimited ways to customize and automate your workflows with the Business Plan to help the whole team reach peak efficiency.
Slite is a collaborative documentation platform designed to help small and midsize businesses create, share, and update knowledge bases to facilitate team meetings and employee onboarding. It’s amazing, good-looking, and comfortable to use.
Meeting Tools, Virtual Offices, Communication Hubs
Though some project management platforms and other tools have communication capabilities built right in, teams working remotely often need a little extra help to stay in touch. Personally, I'm not too fond of emails, but communication is crucial for remote teams, so here are my tools:
Tired of trying to reach the elusive “Inbox Zero”? Slack’s here to help. The great thing about Slack is that teams can organize conversations into channels, and individuals only need to follow those conversations that are important to their work. When done well, Slack can help keep design teams collaborative but also on task. Slack also integrates with many apps that make it a fantastic place to centralize all your team’s efforts.
Ready to make your meetings truly collaborative? Stormboard is a digital workspace where teams can have meetings, discuss projects, and collaborate on specific tasks regardless of where they are in the world. This browser-based tool combines the ideas of conference calls, collaborative whiteboards, and project management into one easy-to-use tool. Collaborators can even edit the board under discussion in real-time and display their ideas to the team rather than explaining them without visualization.
Collaborative Design and Editing Tools
For many teams, workflows aren’t simple. Whether you’re an in-house designer, agency, or freelance creative, a typical project will have multiple checkpoints and approvals before being finalized. The right proofing and editing tools that allow pinpoint feedback and annotation create a faster, less hazardous road to project completion.
Note: I still love Sketchapp with all my heart. It’s just that Figma is more convenient for remote working. Figma takes everything you love about any design software you’ve ever used and mashes it all together in one responsive, interactive, collaborative tool. Teams can design and prototype with a single tool, with no coding required. Figma brings the intention of your designs to life, making it easy to test the effectiveness of your work before bringing in the development team. Collaboration has never been easier. Invite who you want, when you want, and project members can view or edit designs simultaneously — all while never losing control over the version history of the task. If your design team is looking for more ways to work together while staying fast and focused, Figma is the best of the best.
I know from experience that remote work can be tough. With teams spread out all across the globe, it’s easy to feel isolated — there are a million distractions no matter where your “office” is. Luckily, as remote work becomes more common, so do tools that can help us stay focused, remain on task, and ultimately have a better work-from-anywhere experience.
Figure it out
As a remote entrepreneur, I can’t count on two hands and both feet the number of times I’ve had to Google something like, “time difference from Zurich to California.” At least, until I find the Figure It Out Chrome Extension, using the extension or the web version, I can input all my team members' locations and see, at a glance, what time it is for them when we need to schedule a meeting or find time to collaborate.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with their time rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. … After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
Design & Marketing are rarely tasks that live in a vacuum, and we need the knowledge, feedback, support, and sometimes approval of others — this all requires a collaborative effort.
No matter what type of team you work with, how big or small, there is a tool (or a stack of tools) that will help improve workflows, productivity, and collaboration. Many of these tools offer free trials so that you can get a sense of the operational improvements or roadblocks adopting each software might introduce.
Give some of them a try and see how you can level up your remote design team’s collaboration with small additions that greatly impact this trying time.