Every designer knows of the advantages of teamwork. However, over the years, the workplace has evolved. Now, because of remote work, it becomes challenging to catch up with all designers in work-from-home or remote employment environments. Fortunately, there are solutions for design collaboration that will enable you to create excellent content while working in real-time with your teammates online.
We have listed some of the top design collaboration tools in this article that you should check out, especially if you are a UI or UX designer.
What is collaborative design?
In contrast to the traditional design approach, collaborative design relies more on iterative development of the design. Each iteration requires different departments and stakeholders to collaborate. It keeps the development process flexible and relies less on the initial requirements for a software application or website.
Today, more and more development teams prefer the adaptable and inclusive approach of collaborative design. Instead of requiring everyone to closely adhere to a specific framework, this favors input from a variety of stakeholders.
Why is collaborative design better?
The collaborative design process feels like a slow and cumbersome practice but comes with a lot of advantages. Moreover, with design collaboration tools, collaborative design can be much faster than traditional design processes.
Address discrepancies faster
Early collaboration is more helpful in defining user or brand preferences and requirements. Working together on website or app UI/UX designs early on helps resolve any concerns that might arise once the product is produced and published. In the case of product packaging design, it helps address the need for regulatory compliance. This helps address the discrepancies between what the brand is looking for versus what the design team is creating.
Stay flexible with requirements
Collaboration in design adds the flexibility needed for a product to have functional features and user interface elements. Due to the involvement of numerous stakeholders, the project gains access to a variety of viewpoints that ultimately influence the product's UX design. In the case of packaging design or rebranding, it allows the brand to tweak the customer’s unboxing experience. It helps brands better integrate both form and function.
Detect errors early on
Design collaboration aids in the discovery of defects and problems at the prototyping stage, assisting the team in avoiding costly blunders. This feature is particularly important when it comes to the design and development of pharmaceutical packaging.
What should you look for in collaboration tools for designers?
You need the appropriate tools to participate in the collaborative design process. These applications should be simple to use, accessible from anywhere by various people, and easy to share projects with external stakeholders like customers.
They must be adaptable and responsive, enabling designers to swiftly prototype both complex and straightforward designs so that they can be reviewed, adjusted, and approved for the handoff.
Top 10 design collaboration tools
Here are some of the best design collaboration tools available in the market right now.
1. Artwork Flow
Artwork Flow is a complete collaborative design platform that seamlessly integrates with your existing design workflow. Artwork Flow can be used by both design teams, as well as large brands, allowing in-house and external stakeholders to seamlessly develop a design.
Artwork Flow is a web-based solution that automatically creates workflows while allowing intricate user control. It allows managing designs from start to end. The platform also comes with its storage with version control built in.
Artwork Flow enables collaborative design through comprehensive feedback tools. It allows reviewers to proof, annotate, and compare PDFs with a free online proofing tool. Project managers can create checklists and assign them to reviewers with deadlines. Reviewers can use the built-in tools to review the design right in their browser and the designer instantly gets the feedback. Templates allow users to define workflows in just a couple of clicks.
- Extremely easy and straightforward, free-to-try creative collaboration tool.
- Runs in your browser, no need to install additional software.
- Provides all the basic tools in place for review and proofing, along with AI-assisted proofing for packaging designs.
- Templates allow the easy creation of new projects.
- Digital asset management comes with version control.
- Does not include design development tools at the moment, and only focuses on collaborative design solutions.
2. Adobe Creative Cloud
A lot of graphic artists devote their entire professional lives to learning Adobe Creative Cloud products. However, as is frequently the case with creative work, obstacles can appear when you wish to show your work to a colleague or seek a client's approval.
Creative Cloud libraries can help with that. You can use the complete range of Adobe Creative Cloud tools to collaborate on projects with your team and other stakeholders.
- Provides all the industry-standard design tools in a single subscription.
- Programs like Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop provide all the tools needed for any kind of design task.
- One of the most popular graphic design systems that are used to date.
- Focused on content creation and not collaborative content development.
- Can be quite expensive for small or medium-sized businesses.
- Requires a powerful desktop computer to make use of all the features.
Mural is a creative collaboration platform for brainstorming. You may use it to create online whiteboards and canvases where a group of people can collaborate in real-time by drawing, adding notes, pinning files and images, and more. We appreciate its extensive file compatibility, first-rate templates, and most recently implemented price that more closely matches that of its rivals. While Mural is a quick and adaptable collaboration tool, several of its closest rivals provide more than simply a digital whiteboard and have unique selling points.
- Real-time and seamless collaboration.
- Easy to use and quick to set up.
- Whiteboards accept a variety of file types.
- Does not allow the creation of interactive tables, reports, or charts.
- Slightly more expensive than the closest rivals
Miro is a unique tool since it combines features from numerous distinct software categories into one. It combines diagramming flowcharting and presentation software with other features like mind mapping and video conferencing.
And it's a collective effort throughout. You can use it to sketch a concept or make a slideshow, either alone or with other people editing at the same time. With Miro, you can chat about how you're working while you're working or give a talk while showcasing your invention thanks to the built-in video and audio calling and screen sharing. Whether it's Asana cards or Vimeo films, you can display media that has been pulled in from other apps.
- Amazing tools for teamwork and presentations.
- Integration with other apps and services is supported very well.
- Controls can be frustrating.
- Certain aspects of the UI can be confusing
For bookmarking, gathering, and organizing files and materials, Dropmark provides a comprehensive solution. It brings together in one location the aesthetics of Pinterest, file storage from Google Drive, and web browser bookmarking. The platform allows users ability to upload assets to Dropmark and group them into collections. Users can organize these collections using tags and titles. Collections can have links, fonts, clips of items, and more.
- A drop-dead simple solution for gathering design inspiration collaboratively.
- Has an aesthetically pleasing user interface.
- Comes with a both desktop and an online application.
- Simplifies project asset organization
- Does not have any workflow management.
- The mobile app is iOS only and does not support Android.
Sketch allows content development, prototyping, and collaboration in a single software. Sketch makes it simpler than ever to take your drawings from conception to manifestation with a robust vector editor, integrated prototyping, and more.
Additionally, you can advance teamwork with Sketch for Teams. In a single workspace, your entire team can communicate, share concepts and prototypes, and offer feedback.
- A mature platform with a lot of extensions.
- Powerful vector graphics editing solution along with real-time collaboration.
- Provides design teams with all the tools needed.
- Is Mac only.
- Takes time to learn and is focused on designers only.
Affinity is provided as an alternative to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite with a more affordable price tag and fewer paywalls. It comes with three programs, Designer, Photo, and Publisher. Together, they aim to replace Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.
Affinity was created from the ground up with the newest technology and the needs of creative professionals in mind. Affinity allows users to quickly and easily bring ideas to life while also saving a ton of time. You may work anywhere, outside of your workplace, thanks to the numerous apps that are available for both desktop and iPad.
- Provides complete creative solutions with industry-standard tools.
- A cheaper alternative to Adobe’s solutions.
- Extensive feature set right out of the box.
- Collaborative features are weak.
- Aimed towards designers only.
- No support for Android.
To carry out a new project, just creativity is not enough. It also requires strategy and awareness. It becomes challenging to manage complex projects without feeling weighed down or overburdened. Asana steps in to help with that.
Better organization can make any project better, and Asana encourages this mentality throughout your team. In recent years, project management has become synonymous with Asana, especially among those just getting started. That's very understandable considering how simple and versatile it is to use. Additionally, Asana's straightforward design makes it simple to see all your planning in one location and makes project management pleasurable.
- A complete project management solution.
- Has a plethora of features and integrations.
- The free plan is excellent.
- Very adaptable and simple to use.
- Quite costly, not a dedicated design collaboration software.
- Massive price jumps across tiers.
- No customer service, and only average security.
Trello is an attractive, entertaining, and simple-to-use program that aids in task organization, coordination, and tracking. The ease of use and capability to promote collaboration with both internal and external teams are the selling aspects of this Kanban board software.
Trello isn't the best for traditional project management because it lacks the features for managing and rebalancing resources across numerous projects. Trello's free tier might also not be practical because you are only allowed to use one add-on per board and several features are only accessible through add-ons
- Flexible and personalized Kanban software.
- Offers both desktop and mobile applications.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Many features require add-ons.
- Difficult to use as a creative collaboration software.
Designing user interfaces for websites and mobile apps with your team is simple by using Figma, a potent, free prototyping tool. Anyone can participate in the design process thanks to an emphasis on online collaboration and an additional browser-based interface. The limitations on the tool's free edition are its only drawback.
- Easy to use and requires little design knowledge.
- Completely web-based solution.
- A great solution to showcase design ideas.
- The free tier is limited and can be very pricey.
- No dedicated proofing solution.
While there are numerous project management platforms and online collaboration solutions, the options of creative collaboration with proper workflow management are still few. However, with solutions like Artwork Flow, online creative collaboration is getting easier. If you'd like to know how Artwork Flow can streamline your creative operations, book a quick demo with our experts today.