Technologies are, without a doubt, instrumental in helping us stay in touch with one another, and with our colleagues. Many shiny new apps and programmes are building bridges between us – through file sharing, to conference calls – to, well, everything!
I think that no matter the big new development, they’re virtually useless without a proactive, and positive attitude. Mindset is what got us out of bed in the morning, and into our offices, long before UX was even a thing. With any brilliant tech, there’s always a human element at its crossroads.
That’s what I’d like to discuss this issue. Because the fact is, there’s no matter of the environment in which you operate. Cooperating with your remote UX team requires a combination of organisation, systematic approaches, and with a little help from the right innovative tools. Let’s take a closer look.
Approaches, Attitudes, and Strategies
Even the most eye-opening, earth-shattering technologies are only as strong as those at its controls. The fact is, a key selling point for many of the most popular applications emphasises the facility of collaboration. That should be enough of a point – that apps won’t hand you the keys to the kingdom but will help you find the roads leading there.
Let’s address the most tiresome of issues – organisation and transparency. It’s essential as work itself. But the key to solidifying your UX design process among team members is to ensure everyone remains on the same page.
Clear communication forms the bedrock of mutual understanding. This, of course, applies beyond the realm of UX and UI too. However, when conducting discussions, working methodologically through a shared document with a list of confirmed talking points would be an excellent way to go.
When carrying out these discussions, make sure to resolve issues point-by-point. Then, confirm the next steps with team members. The following points will help explore these aspects in more detail.
Be sure to manage product backlogs. Project management software plays a vital role in this aspect. By breaking down tasks into their constituent subtasks, you help ease the lines of communication and form a more coherent picture of the warranted tasks.
Each member of your team should remain aware of their role. They should - beyond a shadow of doubt – understand their place within the project framework. Identifying the what’s, when’s, and who’s, are integral to your efforts in remote management.
Common scheduling programmes will always reign supreme as a go-to source of information. Use these calendars to schedule meetings, set agenda details for upcoming meetings, and mark additional information on important milestones.
Whether you’re planning a design review or key brainstorming session; the critical dates and events need their form of recognition. Keep these meetings regular, just as you would in a face-to-face environment – participants will, therefore, be sure to place importance on them.
Simulate and Replicate Contact
Work will always feel infinitely more effective when it contains a human element. Email, chat, and video all serve as beacons of connection between people – and, importantly, members of the team.
Ensure face-to-face contact whenever possible. This can happen with regular phone calls, punctuated with live collaborations, and video calls. The options are limitless, with Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, and more, all serving to facilitate the collaboration experience once more.
Message in a Bottle
The likes of Slack, or Microsoft Teams both serve as reliable tools for chat-based communication. The latter offers Screen-Sharing, which serves as a valuable tool in addressing visual matters.
Social media messaging also serves as a great option. Depending on your location, or that of your counterparts, some communications apps may be more popular than others. For instance, for communication with UK and German contacts, WhatsApp is the platform of choice. In China, the programme overwhelmingly most favoured, is WeChat.
Setting ground rules may appear to be the antithesis of flexibility. But this is a necessary measure, in both establishing meeting conduct, as well as channels of communication.
For starters, depending on the size of your project, there may be several areas of discussion. A good idea would be setting up associated subchannels. This measure works for projects containing several ongoing issues. For example, subchannels could encompass design and coding. Further minor matters can also be assigned subchannels.
As for conduct, it is good to establish time slots, even for the most limited of discussions. Just as in any face-to-face meeting, ensure you run through a list of critical points. Importantly, make sure to abide by an agreed timeframe.
Tools for Success
By all means, consider this list a jumping-off point. The following is a list of digital tools, deemed necessary for maintaining cooperation with your UX and UI teams.
The straightforward app allows you to review and cooperate on projects. Multi-person design and live collaboration form the bedrock of this mechanism.
Live collaboration tool that’s great for prototyping, even for those who are less-technical. Demo web apps, or websites, with efficient communications modules, have been designed for rapid feedback flows.
- Adobe XD
This UX and UI-centric programme harnesses the power of its famed Illustrator and Photoshop programmes. Notably, XD Includes a handy artboard feature, as well as speed and capacity to handle large projects.
Project Management Software
This well-rounded tool is designed for teams, offering possibilities of customising and delegating responsibilities within more significant projects.
Lightweight and simplified, for an all-round user base. This free tool is easy to use, for general project tracking, barring any premium features.
User-friendly, with easy onboarding. The creators of Ruby on Rails have developed this tool, offering an expanded tool. View projects, chat on contact modules, make announcements, and more.
Easy onboarding and simplified design make this a friendly tool for recruits. This tool offers customisation and a incredibly intuitive interface.
The tool centres on multi-tasking and engaging multiple teams. That function extends over a series of responsibilities. Some training is required to maximise the use of this module.
A popular platform used to share ideas and conceptual designs—an excellent choice for online meetings with team members or external collaborators.
A spacious canvas enables you to organise ideas, and present on a single comprehensive board. This highly intuitive programme specialises for distributed teams.
Cloud Storage Solutions
The Microsoft cloud storage solution offers seamless compatibility with Windows products. Useful security features and value for money make this a practical choice.
- Google Drive
Ease of use and integrability with popular office tools is a reason for this tool’s popularity. Generous cloud storage is a notable feature.
The iOS cloud storage solution has been built to integrate with Apple products seamlessly. Comprehensive web apps work with all ranges of hardware.
When communicating with UX and UI teams, don’t shy away from the winning combination of tools and attitude. Any powerful tool is only as useful as the team itself. Therefore, be sure to choose a team you can trust.
Proactivity is key. When setting out tasks and meetings, be sure to carry this out in advance, with a particular emphasis on possible brainstorming or collaboration sessions as well. There is a multitude of tools available to help you achieve this. New features, such as screen-sharing, document-linking, and integrated shared calendars are instrumental in keeping collaboration alive, and information flowing both ways.
Only through a spirit of enthusiasm and effort, will you correctly set about working with a remote UX team. When making the selection, be sure to look out for signs of competence, and proven experience with remote work. If the website doesn’t provide enough evidence, then consider scheduling a skype call, to ask the questions you need.
Energy can sustain itself, even with remote distances. The key is to make sure it works for the long term. Great tools are out there. But remember, they are just the punctuation! A strong team is the core of any effective project.
If you’re on the lookout for a team you can trust, be sure to reach out. I’m always happy for a conversation!