Have you ever taken on a client who is literally half a world away? We have, and we know that communication and maintaining their involvement in the development of their project can be a difficult.  You’ve not only got the lack of face to face contact to think of, but the time differences and often lengthy breaks between contact to consider as well!  The same can be said for your own team members! If they are scattered around the country or in and out of the offices at different times sharing ideas and content can be difficult.

But we want you know that it doesn’t have to be so tough.  We have searched the net and collected a list of the best tools for the collaboration of ideas, content and designs that we could find, and supplemented the list with some tried and tested favorites.  All of these tools enable your client to check their projects development step-by-step, keeping them informed and, hopefully, happy. These tools do not only have benefits for the clients, but can increase your teams productivity and efficiency by giving them a medium to collaborate and share.

Cage App

 

A tried and tested favorite in the Zeta office, Cage App offers numerous benefits for those with plenty of web design work to share.  From websites, to banner ads and landing pages, Cage App is a designers dream for content collaboration.

Its straightforward, simple feedback function allows the client or your co-workers to pin comments directly to the areas of the design they are talking about, keeping the communication accurate and direct.  The ‘Revisions’ function lets your clients view your progress step by step with each design update,track their projects progress by referring to previous versions.

Cage App comes in a range of prices; from a Personal $24 package that is perfect for freelancers, to a costly $179 Premium package that gives you unlimited users. Perfect for a large company.  Cage App has become a staple tool for us here, and was especially useful during a project with a client across the world in Hong Kong!

 

Gather Content

 

Another Zeta favorite, Gather Content has proven to be indispensable when collecting bits of content from our copywriters and clients.   Gather Content allows you to clearly plan, structure and collaborate, with an easy commenting system that operates in a similar manner to Cage.  User interactivity is simplified by using drag and drop boxes to arrange the order of content structure and headings.

The tool is brilliant for managing the relationship between the client, project manager and copywriter, providing many useful options that ensure everyone is reading from the same sheet.  Elements built into the content structure allows you to add microcopy and directions under headings, meaning your copywriters can adhere to project guidelines and meet the clients requirements.  Additionally, you can enforce character and word limits to keep your overly creative copywriters from going a little overboard.  The added option to exclude your client from editorial duties means you can prevent any unplanned alterations client side and limit any unnoticed errors or changes.

 

MindManager

 

A powerful mind mapping tool that is a favorite in the Zeta office, MindManager builds visually engaging mind maps that prove useful for plotting project progression or mapping out creative concepts and ideas.  This tool is adaptable and can be used to clearly display project plans for clients, or, by designers as a method of collecting concepts and developing ideas into one shareable location.

MindManager offers a 30 day free trial so check it out!

 

Mural.ly

 

This online whiteboard/pin-board is a attention grabbing way of collecting ideas and inspiration.  It’s quirky look makes it a hit with creative agencies, whilst its simple drag and drop functionality makes it very easy to get to grips with.  Add long distance collaboration to this and you have a potent tool for idea collation, allowing your clients to easily combine their creative ideas with your teams.

You can drag anything from documents and links to YouTube videos and images. The built-in activity feed and chat allows you to follow your teams progress and openly discuss ideas on the document.

Think of it as Pinterest with the added ability to bring all that inspiration into one organized and presentable tool.

For the freelancer with only one machine, this is a freebie.

 

Conceptboard

 

An alternative to Cage App, Conceptboard offers a lot of similar features including targeted commenting and reviews. The tool also allows you to implement project plans and schedules, as well as featuring a real-time updates stream.  Conceptboard works across a variety of platforms and devices, and can seamlessly integrate into Google Drive.

Conceptboard also provides free integration with Trello, a project management tool.  This allows you a hefty combination well organized task links and scheduling with the creative concepts, ideas and annotations developed with Conceptboard.

 

Google Hangouts

 

It was only a matter of time before Google out did Skype for the crown of long distance communication.  If you work in a creative agency, then you have undoubtedly witnessed break downs in communication over email or misread ideas that have taken a project of on the wrong direction.  Hangouts helps you get back to the old ways of face-to-face communication, helping you to share your ideas in discussion with up to 10 colleagues or clients at a time.

Available over a variety of devices, Google Hangouts helps you to get in touch and share your ideas, now matter where you are in the world.

 

Spring Loops

 

One for all you coders out there! This tool serves to unite all of your coding team under one goal, allowing a lead coder or project manager to track individuals progress through the project.  This is provided through the powerful Stream that provides a list updated in real time.  Spring Loops boasts lighting fast deployment speed and no restrictions on the number of users or the number of servers with access, giving you the freedom to collaborate with as many coders as you want.

 

Skitch

 

Love Pinterest? Then you’ll love Skitch.  Created by Evernote, this visually driven tool helps you to capture inspiration on the move.  Skitch helps you to visualize your thoughts by augmenting photos with additional sketches, pointers, shapes and arrows.  Why communicate with words when you can share and combine your ideas and your clients visually?

 

Google Drive

 

 

The big daddy. The internet overlord.  We pretty much expect Google to have a solution to every web based problem we could think of, and they provide their answer to long distance, client collaboration with Google Drive.  A very basic and very simple document sharing option that is free to use, easy to grasp and even easier to share.

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