Five obstacles to collaboration on design projects, and how to overcome them
When you're building a website for clients, you need to juggle a lot of things. It needs to be robust and adapt perfectly to all devices and screen sizes. It needs to be future-proof. It needs to be user-friendly. And from the client's point of view, it needs to be finished and ready to go as soon asap.
Getting everything done within the client's timeframe while still creating a quality website you can be proud of can be quite the challenge. Because however hard you work, and however great a designer you are, every website built for a client depends on good collaboration with others. And many common obstacles lie in your path.
Don't worry, though: there are solutions: you just have to plan ahead and think outside the box a little. To help you out, we've teamed up with Editor X to explore ways that you can overcome the biggest obstacles to productive and efficient collaboration on websites.
Editor X is a web platform with advanced design features crafted specifically for those who build websites for others. It's based around a polished drag and drop interface with exceptional responsive capabilities. And best of all, it's got some brilliant collaboration features baked into its systems, which can truly transform the process of working on a website with others.
Read on as we consider five of the most common obstacles to website collaboration and how Editor X can help you smooth a path to completing your project on time and to the highest standards.
1. Too much back and forth
Collaboration is all about individuals acting together to achieve a common purpose. But too often, it feels less like a group activity and more like a game of tennis, where a particular task goes back and forth between different designers, teams, or departments, in a never-ending chain of comments, queries and debates that seem to go on forever.
It's a bit like one of those interminable email conversations, where the thread goes on for pages, points get lost among the blizzard of one-line messages, and it takes forever to reach a conclusion. When that happens, you often think: "Why didn't we just jump on a quick phone call or Zoom meeting? We could have got there a lot faster!" And the same principle applies to collaborating on a website.
Editor X provides the equivalent of "jumping on a Zoom call" in the form of concurrent editing. This groundbreaking feature, quite simply, allows you to create websites side-by-side in real-time with collaborators.
Anyone you invite can come inside the editing interface with you and see the page they're working on. This allows others to see exactly how you're designing the site, demystifying the whole process for them and helping them see exactly how and why you've reached the design decisions you've made.
As well as a Read-Only mode, collaborators who write code can enter Dev Mode, and you can work on the site together. Only one person can edit the site code at one time to make the process smooth and structured. And overall, this brilliant feature means that collaboration can be a true collaboration and lead to results that everyone's onboard within the minimum of time.
2. Confusion over responsibilities
Sometimes, a collaborative design process can be slowed down because people aren't entirely clear who's responsible for what. That might mean that certain tasks don't get progressed because everyone assumes they're someone else's problem. Alternatively, it could mean that people waste time trying to solve the same issues concurrently, leading to duplication of effort.
Obviously, you'd want to avoid this by carefully outlining everyone's roles and responsibilities from the start. But sticking to this can be a challenge, especially if your website build evolves and develops as the project progresses. So this is a clear example of where a robust and flexible website building platform can help steer your course more smoothly.
Editor X comes in trumps in this area. The interface allows you to assign every teammate and collaborator a custom role on each site, and you can set and manage granular permissions for each role. That means everyone, from designers to developers and SEO specialists, can have a tailored editing experience.
Controlling specific permissions means some actions on the dashboard and inside the editor are disabled. This allows everyone to focus on only those tasks that are authorised by their role. Equally importantly, it prevents team members from making unintended changes to a project when those responsibilities fall outside of their role.
3. People keep changing their minds
When you're trying to complete a project on time, superiors, managers, teammates, and other collaborators can sometimes seem like they're actively trying to disrupt things rather than playing on the same team.
Every time you complete a step in your website build, they push back and say: "Can we try something different?" Every time you ask for sign-off, they say, "Have you thought about doing it this way instead?" Worse still, you might be mid-task and suddenly get the call to drop everything - "We're thinking about going in a different direction… can we have a meeting to discuss?"
So what's the answer? It usually involves making each collaborator feel more involved in the process every step of the way. That way, everyone feels a sense of ownership over shared design decisions and will be less likely to backtrack or disrupt things further down the line.
Editor X makes this easy by allowing anyone you invite into the interface to make live comments. But that's only one part of it. The genius is that you can create element-specific comments to make it easy for everyone to find the comments that are relevant to them.
How does this work in practice? Comments are page specific, so you'll see a separate list of comments depending on the page you're on. Above each comment, you'll see the name of the element it relates to. And when you click on a comment, the relevant element will be highlighted on the canvas.
This means that rather than an avalanche of general comments that no one can keep up with, each comment can be seen by the right people, at the right time, in a way that they can be effectively acted upon. And that really is pretty revolutionary.
4. Approvals take too long
It's typical. You've worked silly hours, at a frantic pace, to get your project task completed on schedule. You breathe a sigh of relief and send it off to the client for approval. And then, you wait. And wait. And wait.
It's so frustrating, wasting time like this when you could be spending that time progressing your next task. But in the real world, your managers have busy working lives too. And sometimes, through no fault of their own, there just aren't enough hours in the day to spend carefully considering what you've sent them.
So what's the solution? Ultimately, it lies in cutting down the amount of time your manager has to spend on each approval. And again, that means getting them more involved earlier on.
The way live comments works in Editor X makes this super-easy. That's because, as well as making comments element-specific, you can assign them to specific people. In turn, everyone can filter comments to see what's relevant to them.
It's a great way to make sure everyone's engaged in the design process throughout, rather than waiting for them to get (laboriously) up to speed at each approvals stage.
5. Inefficient workflows
One of the biggest reasons website builds don't progress as fast as they should is down to pure inefficiency. For instance, it's wasteful to have multiple designers separately create design assets (icons, colour palettes or typography themes) for each site built for a single client. Instead, a modern web design agency will typically set up design libraries of assets you can reuse on any site in the same account.
Editor X makes it easy to create a design library and allow anyone else in your team to access it for their work. Sharing, renaming and deleting assets is a cinch, too. That way, you can avoid "reinventing the wheel" every time you start a new site build, and speed up everything along the way, from creating elements to getting approvals.