Communication Tools for a Remote Design Team

I think we can all agree that these are weird times. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure we are communicating as fluidly as possible as individuals and as a team. In a traditional office setting a person would be able to walk over to a colleague’s desk and ask direct questions while pointing at a screen, but that isn’t possible for many of us now. Many of us have become scattered and disconnected from our coworkers. Don’t get me wrong, the work-from-home push has come with many benefits, but we can only be effective if we are constantly sharing information with those who need it. There are so many different tools you can use to share ideas and keep strong communication in the workplace, even when everyone is on their own island.

Chat services

It’s really easy for situations like getting feedback on designs or making sure that functionality matches up with design mocks. I can quickly send an image to the dev team and get back good feedback that will drive changes or confirm mockups.

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Video chat and screen sharing

As a designer, it’s great to be able to share my Sketch project and provide live updates as we talk through ideas. This has also been really helpful when joining a new project or a new team. There have been times where a quick video call with a developer on the project has saved me a lot of time reading documents and trying to catch up on what’s going on. Video calls can be a huge lifesaver and really speed up the process of communicating overall.

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Collaborative tools for communication and design

There is an added benefit to using shared, collaborative services like these. They allow anyone included on the team to quickly pull up the project and see what is saved to date, letting people get the info they need whenever they want.

Prototyping over screenshots

This is part of the process that I struggle with. Designs move pretty quickly when teams are collaborating effectively. It can be tough to keep up proper clickthroughs and prototypes sometimes, but it’s certainly worth the effort.

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Still include screenshots

Images and screen captures can be great in supporting video calls as well. Sometimes video quality can dip, and it can also allow people to easily recall what might have been said in the call.

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Still send that email

It’s always great to support that email with a quick text chat to make sure everyone is on the same page. “Hey, I just sent those images over to the client. Did you see that?” “Yep, I got it. Thanks”. Now you know that someone else is tracking that correspondence, and you can be sure that it was sent.

The takeaway here is that we might need to put a little extra effort into making sure people we work with have the information they need to be effective in their roles. These tools will not only improve how often you communicate, but they will impact how effectively you communicate as well.

Keep that Slack thread going.

-Jensen Laatsch, UX/UI designer at AWH.

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