Visual collaboration tools have vast potential for any team working online, and with more people moving to remote workspaces, they are gaining traction in many different sectors. Touted for their versatility, there are a ton of different visual collaboration applications that are relevant to any online workspace.

With an increasing number of teams transitioning to online environments and adopting visual collaboration tools, it’s important to understand how visual collaboration is most effectively applied and what scenarios it best fits into.

In this article, we will discuss those two things and we hope to give you a better sense of how you can get the best out of visual collaboration tools. If you are interested in learning more about the in’s and out’s of visual collaboration, check out our comprehensive guide, and check out our thought lab for all the latest updates on Fresco’s blog activity.

People working together on a shared, virtual board demonstrating the togetherness of visual collaboration applications.

Visual Collaboration Keys

In order to get the most out of your collaboration sessions, it’s important that you understand how it is best applied. Below we will briefly discuss two strategies to help you understand and execute your visual collaboration projects.

Prepare, Clarify, and Execute

One common mistake that happens when people use visual collaboration is expecting that the tool does all the work for you. This simply isn’t the case. Visual Collaboration does make collaborating and organizing your workspace much easier, but it only helps if you set the right foundation.

In order to get the most out of visual collaboration, you must properly prepare and execute your goals and structure. Getting this right is key to succeeding in your collaboration sessions. Visual collaboration elements improve your ability to organize and structure your collaboration but they still require you to be proactive in your effort to implement this structure. 

This could look like diagramming your workflow and next steps, clarifying and writing your objectives & goals, or doing preparation in order for your team to understand their individual roles within the collaboration session. There are many different ways you can look to prepare and implement a structured approach, and these methods might change depending on the specific work you’re trying to complete. Whatever that task may be, properly preparing and executing off that preparation is key to achieving your collaboration goals.

People working as a team through multiple mediums, demonstrating the teamwork present in visual collaboration applications.

Utilize visual structural elements

Visual collaboration has many different possibilities that engage the collaborative potential of teams, but they are only as useful as you allow them to be. One of the most common ways to collaborate is through whiteboarding, but often whiteboarding doesn’t use the full advantage that visual collaboration has to offer.

People are visual creatures by nature, and the way they learn follows the same pattern. Especially when learning online, it is extremely helpful for people to use visual elements and organization to properly understand the information in front of them. 

This structure of learning translates to visual collaboration in meaningful ways. When there are instances of collaboration, many people jump to a whiteboarding session because that is the most effective traditional method of collaboration. It is important, however, to resist this urge when using visual collaboration tools and opt for a more structured approach.

With these tools, you are able to pivot to multiple templates that are more visually engaging and structured purposefully to produce more streamlined outcomes. Visual collaboration tools are only great when you try and access their full potential, and this is achieved through utilizing their innovative visual and structural elements.

Multiple devices working together showing how online workspaces function together.

This could look like using a pre-made journey map, a kanban framework, or any other simple yet effective template in replacement of a whiteboarding session or collaboration simply over a video conference. Doing this allows you to access all the best that visual collaboration tools have to offer and helps engage all of your team with visual elements.

Visual Collaboration Applications

Not only are knowing strategies important, but it’s also critical to understand what sectors can best utilize visual collaboration. Below we outline three work sectors that benefit greatly from visual collaboration applications.

Customer Mapping

Customer-centric thinking is central to any business, and it’s important to prioritize your customers in the decisions you make as an organization. This doesn’t happen by chance, however, it takes serious commitment and prioritization from everyone involved. Visual collaboration tools make creating customer journey maps and customer personas incredibly easy and gives them the structure to make analysis easily accessible. Sometimes it can be hard to put yourself in the shoes of a customer, but with pre-made templates, it becomes much easier to structure them and personalize their experience. Visual collaboration tools are great catalysts for customer mapping and are a great tool for any team to use when working remotely. 

Design Sprints

Visual Collaboration allows for teams to easily integrate visual elements into their collaboration. This key value proposition of visual collaboration offers design teams a ton of versatility when planning sprints and doing brainstorming activities.

Design teams can benefit from using visual collaboration greatly because they can integrate visual elements directly into their work. This gives them a lot more freedom when working together because they can all work from a shared set of materials and references. This is important to all online teams but impacts design teams in specific because their content focuses directly on visual design elements. Having a shared online space where these elements can be visualized and analyzed is critical and a massive boost for any design or graphics-based teams and is one of many important visual collaboration applications.

Abstract design elements thrown together referencing the design sprint section.

Product Teams

Visual collaboration tools, as we know, are great at providing structure to teams that are working together online. This structure can be implemented in various different ways in individual scenarios, but can also be strung together to create an entire shared workflow.

Product managers and teams brainstorming new product features benefit greatly from the flexibility offered through visual collaboration. Whether you’re working on a customer-facing solution, engaging in sprint planning, creating retrospective analysis, or conducting a design-thinking brainstorming exercise, visual collaboration tools provide the flexibility and usability for product teams to handle all of these tasks and more. 

This versatility is demanded of product teams so they should be able to utilize a tool that gives them those capabilities. These visual collaboration applications are crucial to working efficiently in an online workspace and hopefully spark some ideas for your next collaboration session.

Conclusion

Visual collaboration has the versatility and usability to push forward online teams of any size and in any direction. It is difficult, however, to best utilize them without the proper guidance and understanding of where they best apply. Hopefully, this guide helped in understanding some common visual collaboration applications. If you’re looking to learn about how virtual whiteboards engage design thinking, check out our guest-written post on the TryMyUI Blog.


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