For UX teams it is fundamental to be able to collaborate on every step of the process visually. From research, through brainstorming to feedbacking with the client. It usually takes place on a whiteboard or any free surface using plenty of sticky notes and drawings. However, what happens when the team is not able to get into one room together?
How can a team that is geographically distributed collaborate visually if they’re not in the same space?
It gets tricky. The team may, of course, use video conferencing tools and share their screen with others, but the viewers are limited to only watch what the facilitator does on his computer screen. Also, it still doesn’t solve the problem of how to collaborate with others.
The other common idea is that every team member does the sticky notes magic on their own and share the picture with the rest by email or Slack. However, the image is too static to collaborate on with a team, and you have to take another picture when you adjust anything, and it just gets less effective.
But don’t worry… we have found a tool that solves all the problems above!
What is Mural.co?
Mural.co is a large-scale virtual workspace for everyone who wants to exchange ideas simultaneously and apply the design thinking method to everything they do.
It acts as a huge, zoomable wall on which users can use virtual sticky notes as well as add images, videos, arrows, labels, and text. All of these elements can be dragged, dropped and clustered, just like they would on a real wall. It allows multiple users to collaborate simultaneously and it includes templates for many common design thinking exercises.
Modern teams around the world are uniting in virtual workspaces like Mural to implement lean, agile and design thinking methodologies, collaborate on projects and deliver better products, services, and experiences.
What does it mean to our clients?
We are also testing this tool out with our clients. It really helps with the feedbacking part on every step of the project. It’s biggest benefit is that the client can leave feedback whenever they have time and we don’t have to meet in person. Mural.co is also very useful when visualizing and communicating our ideas to the client – it’s much more appealing and clear than an email.
“I needed something to help me collect information in one place so that I could organize my thoughts, but also to share what was inside my head with my team in a space where they could give feedback and we could get things moving.”
Mariano Suarez Battan, CEO of mural.co
The Mural Team works hard to equip its users with many useful templates and features to improve the quality of their tool. I will share with you only a couple of them that will change how you collaborate internally.
Let’s start with one of the biggest challenges for distributed teams which is the communication when team members are located in different places and timezones. How do you have effective synchronous, face-to-face design meetings when you’re not in the same physical space? There are plenty of ways you can use mural.co to improve communication with your team:
Conference calls create a later style of interaction: only one person can talk at a time. With short attention spans for remote participants, this leads to a lack of focus and ultimately to multi-tasking.
Having a mural open for each meeting lets everyone participate in the call, even if they aren’t speaking. You can also add links and resources others may need, as well as get the action steps mentioned in the call done. Using MURAL for meetings not only increases engagement, but it also accelerates your team’s ability to coordinate and get things done in real time together.
Virtual standups are common with dispersed teams. Each team member has a unique color and can organize their work for others to see. In a conference call, we can go around and have each person discuss their weekly activities for 5 minutes or less.
Use warm-ups before you start the main part of your online meeting. It will help your distributed participants to get to know each other better, reduce shyness and increase their creativity.
Blast from the Past warm-up
Ask all the participants to send you a photo of when they were younger in a private message. Upload them in a mural before the meeting.
Give everyone 1-2 minutes to add sticky notes to guess who is who in the mural. Go from photo to photo and ask each person to reveal themselves and share one good memory they have from that time of their lives.
Digital collaboration happens when people and work are connected in digital workspaces. Team members can access projects and tasks from anywhere, work on the same workspaces in real-time. Collaboration can be challenging for remote teams and it requires a little bit more of preparation. However, when you learn how to collaborate digitally, it can be more effective and productive than face-to-face collaboration.
Mind mapping is a proven way to help you get unstuck quickly, getting all of your thoughts out visually to help you think through the toughest challenges. We find mapping out all of your ideas in one place enables you to solve problems better in general. In Mural you can use ready-to-use templates or create your own with sticky notes, drawings, icons, pictures, videos, links or anything you imagine.
After all the brainstorming, mind mapping and ideas visualizing there comes a time when we need to make a final decision and prioritize ideas. It may be a real struggle, but the dot-voting feature helps a lot. You open the voting up and define how many votes everyone has. Then they can individually click on any element on the mural to “vote” for it. Once you close the voting round, the totals are automatically calculated. It’s easy to see what the collective opinion of the group is.
The Follow Feature
When showing your colleagues the new mural, you just made or the changes you introduced you can invite them to follow what you see on the screen. They have to click on your avatar, and their screen will become your screen.
Give it a try!
I am pretty sure that I have already convinced you that using a virtual workspace may save you time and be very effective for distributed teams. So now I challenge you to try it out and to share your experience!