Twelve months into the pandemic, new discoveries are emerging on many levels. Lots of tools that were adopted out of necessity to make remote work possible, have revealed themselves to be brilliant solutions that stand to remain rooted in processes, long after life and work get back to normal and we are able to engage face-to-face with team members and clients.
For Solid Digital, InVision Freehand stands as a prime example. We’ve become experts with how to use Invision. This online brainstorming tool serves as a digital whiteboard that has enabled us to collaborate online, while providing a central hub of assets and a single, easily searchable source of truth throughout the entire web design and development process — from kickoff through QA.
Rapid Discovery Journey
Initially, we viewed the transition to this new tool as a “have to.” We loved the creative energy and relationship building that powered our client engagements when we were able to meet in person, and it was hard to imagine duplicating that digitally from multiple remote locations.
Leveraging InVision Freehand, though, we managed to not only overcome the perceived obstacles of remote collaboration, we discovered new possibilities for streamlining processes and working with greater efficiencies. With the addition of video conferencing this fully-remote approach is enabling our entire team to work together at the same time on the same platform, via their laptops.
Newfound infinite canvas capabilities have actually removed restrictions and roadblocks that resulted from the square footage limitations of a single whiteboard that got erased when we moved on to another topic. The content on a whiteboard that results from ideation or brainstorming can easily be preserved and remain part of the process documentation.
Directly within the InVision Freehand, we are laying out site architecture and wireframes, and continuing to build up from that base, with links off to prototypes.
This new way of working has created a framework for consistent and simplified documentation during every phase of the process. While we had previously been very diligent about documentation, ensuring for example that the whiteboard from any brainstorming session was photographed and stored, with Invision we have the assurance that documentation of every artifact is automatically integrated into processes, not a separate, time-consuming task. The entire process, encompassing discovery, UX, wireframing, visual design creation, reviews, and iterations, is automatically preserved and easily searchable within one tool. We can refer back at any time, make comments on digital “sticky notes,” and revise as needed. With this new way of working, the whole process is consolidated and easily searchable — both during and after the engagement.
InVision Freehand is not the only available option for remote collaboration to solve website challenges, we chose it and rank it as our top pick for online brainstorming tools for reasons that include:
- The shape-making tools make it easy for everyone on the team to visually add their input.
- The essential tools within Freehand help to sharpen our focus on the tasks at hand. For example when coming up with wireframes and layout concepts, we use the simple drawing and shape tools to quickly convey ideas, as we would with a “back-of-the-napkin” sketch, without getting into high-level visuals. This promotes focus and speed when brainstorming and problem solving.
- There’s unlimited space for users to zoom out or zoom in and focus on whatever element of the project they need to.
- Curation and documentation of the entire process is automatic and includes results of brainstorming activities, along with thumbnails, uploaded photos, wireframes, sitemaps, and prototypes.
- Clients now have the opportunity to comment on work in progress during weekly review meetings, and also to log back in during the week to register additional thoughts and considerations.
When we return to onsite meetings, it will be interesting to see how we will continue to leverage this tool. This is a topic currently under discussion within the creative team.
It’s possible that InVision Freehand will remain very much woven into our processes and that onsite meetings end up looking a lot different than they did pre-pandemic.
Out of the Former Comfort Zone
The potential of InVision Freehand and similar tools has been talked about in the design industry for a few years. We’ve been aware of the tool, but our existing processes have driven a lot of success. There did not appear to be a compelling reason to change.
Then came the pandemic. The reality of remote work for an indefinite period of time forced us to figure out a new way to collaborate and create. We stepped out of our comfort zones and ended up with a solution that was better and more robust. InVision Freehand is here to stay.
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