Communicating designs across departments and borders – the productivity & communication rig.
As an in-house design department we are always searching for tools to communicate new concepts, ideas and finished designs to management, journalists and decision makers. We do complete A-Z projects, build niche sites, redesign dated services, complete re-dos of the main product and small incremental improvements for our products across the board of web, tablet and mobile. Once in a blue moon we even create stuff to be printed on paper.
As an 8 person design department we deliver designs in all forms and shapes, so finding “THE ONE” tool proved to be challenging. Until we discovered the rig we use today, we were all over the map on preferred software and storage solutions. We used illustrator, we used photoshop, pen and paper, external contributors delivered sketch files and we had members of the team just prototyping directly in html, which is fine, but leave us with the challenge of distributing the design assets between the team members to everyones benefit over time.
There is a plethora of different services for quick prototyping, and new ones coming out every week. Balsamic, Omnigraffle, Keynote, wire.fra.me.us.in.to.th.ecorn.er — It seems like digital designers are experiencing a lot of the same frustrations and problems, since there are so many services out there.
We struggle to build clickable-almost-real-looking-concepts within available time. We’re in need of software that make designs look real, before it´s actually made. Beatiful problem, isn’t it?
In our department we needed a rig that made it easy to distribute early concepts between designers and “client”. Get feedback. Benefit from asset libraries and link it closely with a cloud service for all storage. Finally, we landed on the combo of Axure and Dropbox after a team member in Krakow tipped us about Axure and trying it out in a project. We all used Dropbox already, but upgrading it to a business account allowed us to increase space and access to all files related to all projects.
As we set up a basic folder structure for designers, projects and assets on Dropbox, Axure allowed us to work on and distribute password protected prototypes. The bonus ahead will be to have all the feedback from contributers and stakeholders in the same place. Just a tab away from our design. This require us to educate stakeholders on how to append feedback to the prototypes, but this will definitely be worth the effort.
There were some issues with changing old habits for all members of the team and some hassle with the beauty of private/work dropboxes merging. Fortunately, Dropbox have announced that a solution for this is on the horizon. Introducing team members into new software requires initial investment of learning, but I think the obvious benefit of sharing assets and being able to access each others projects outweighs this over time.