What digital tools can be used to enhance collaboration and communication?


As a graphic designer, you will not be working alone. At the very least, you will be collaborating with a client. More often than not, you'll also need to collaborate with writers, photographers, illustrators, project managers, creative directors, assistants, account executives and other designers. This is why you'll often see "excellent communication skills required" in help wanted ads for designers. Fortunately, there are many digital tools available to enhance and collaboration and communication. Learning to use these tools is just as important as learning how to use tools like Photoshop.

E-mail

E-mail is perhaps the primary digital tool for collaboration and communication. E-mail is almost instaneous and free. E-mail also has many "extras": you can attach files and forward one or more e-mails to large groups of people at one time. E-mail messages can be used to track and record conversations. E-mail is also becoming an accepted form of a legal signature. (Also see "Benefits of Gmail")

IM and Chatrooms
Instant messaging is often used more for entertainment and catching up with your friends, but they can be very useful for free long-distance conversations. Most times, Instant Messaging is even quicker than e-mail. Chat rooms serve the same purpose but are designed for conversations with groups of people. In both cases, conversations can be saved and archived for later reference.

Discussion Boards
Discussion boards are similar to a chatrooms but the users do not need to be present at the same time to converse online. Conversations are grouped into threads that contain a main posting and all the related replies. Many discussion boards are searchable and can become an archive of useful information. (Also see "About Google Groups")

Wikis

Wikis are websites that are authored by many people. Essentially a content management system, wikis track edits by multiples users who are collaboratively creating content. A record of each draft is saved and one can always revert to older versions. Many corporations are making use of wiki technology as an engine to manage content and power their web sites. (Also see "How to start a Wiki")

Cell Phones and Palm Pilots

Cell phones and palm pilots are another way for people to communicate. With a cell phone you can text message, e-mail, call people, and with some newer phones you can even talk to more than one person at once. Palm pilots also have the ability to send and receive e-mail and browse the web.

Shared Calendars
Google and other web application developers are beginning to create browser-based applications that allow further collaboration. Google Calendars is one such example where you can share your calendar events and invite others to to events. Google has also developed shared spreadsheets and word processing applications that can be authored by multiple people. Access to these tools requires a Gmail account (also see "Benefits of Gmail").