What do you think?

The magic of virtual collaborative design.

27 April 2021 Dominic Ayre
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During the pandemic we have all been finding ways to work together. Trying to create a virtual version of our boardroom, whiteboards, or pin-up walls. A place where we can drop thoughts onto a table so all of us can mould them together. This is probably one of the most important stages of design. The spark if you will. So, we have been having fun (and maybe getting a little frustrated at times) finding ways to connect and make the conceptual workflow familiar.

Last week was Config, the virtual conference created by Figma. Figma as a tool has become central to our studio's development process. Though originally considered a production tool for creating interface concepts and production files, we have lately really embedded Figma as an important part of our collaborative workflow and started using it to its full advantage.

It might not seem like the most obvious tool to design a magazine, but Figma's ability to offer a blank open space where many hands can be on a project simultaneously has been invaluable. Josiah and Frances used it for our recent issue of Renaissance magazine for RTOERO. They were able to design parts of the magazine, in particular the covers, together. It allowed them the ability to shape, scale, add, reject and finalize a design. It took hours off the usual PDF ping pong that has become the norm in our WFH world.

Andrew has been using Adobe XD for years, and more recently Figma, to collect feedback from both our clients and development partners. Having real-time and contextual input on specific elements in our web designs has been a huge gamechanger for our UI/UX design workflow.

In a similar way, I was able to work directly with a client to design a web interface almost entirely with screen share and Zoom's annotate tool. Though a little rudimentary, the annotate drawing function enabled us to quickly iterate placements, navigational choices and even typographic scales by simply sketching live. This does not replace paper and a pencil for me, but it does help convey ideas across our Zoom-framed communications. 

We still miss each other, of course. In fact, we would love to actually meet our two latest team members in person! Until then, we continue to find ways to streamline our collaborative processes and expand on our ability to form our work together.

P.S. At Config, Figma launched FigJam, a new collaborative whiteboard tool. Looks like a new toy for all of us to play with...

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