No more Feedback Loops: Testing the Invision Collaboration Tool

Torben Simon Meier Last updated 17.09.2020
6 Min.
collaboration tool

Collaboration tools can save web designers, agencies and their customers a lot of time and money. Because, among other things, they eliminate the unloved feedback emails. Our colleague Dominik from Weslink took a closer look at one of them. His conclusion: Freelancers and solo preneurs should also think about such a tool, because the entry-level rates are usually free.

We know the pain ourselves from our agency days: feedback loops eat up time, can lead to misunderstandings and mean unnecessary effort for both sites . So a good chunk of the time budget is spent only on feedback. The collaboration tool that Dominik is presenting today is therefore something we could have imagined ourselves using in our agency business. Especially the comment function and prototyping bring a lot of advantages. Our conclusion: You don't have to use InVision, of course, but it's definitely worth taking a look at the possibilities of collaboration tools. In this sense: Death to the feedback loop!

A few months ago, we discovered the collaboration tool InVision. And to make a long story short: we are very enthusiastic about it. It improves the collaboration between designers, developers and customers enormously. With features like real-time synchronization and commenting, we were able to shorten the project duration and deliver better results to our customers. Because it was easier for us to understand the needs of our customers. Above all, the annoying and sometimes interpretative email agreements and approvals are now a thing of the past for us. No wonder that big players like Netflix, Twitter, Sony or Evernote also rely on the software.

The most important advantages of InVision are:

  • Reduction of the need for consultation, thanks to comment and synchronization functions
  • Seamless connection to Google Drive and Dropbox
  • Easy evaluation and tracking thanks to versioning
  • Interactive mockups with live synchronization to Photoshop
  • Free trial version

InVision Improves Customer Communication and Cooperation in UI/UXWordPress Projects

InVision is, roughly speaking, an app that runs in the browser as well as on mobile devices. It simplifies customer communication and cooperation in WordPress projects such as Theme or website development. Especially when the participants or the customer are not on site, the collaboration tool can show its full potential.

So we in Muensterland can upload a layout or a draft and our customer in Munich has the possibility to examine the layout and comment it directly. Most of our customers do this in a so-called live sharing session directly via InVision. Thanks to the integrated video and telephone function, the whole thing then works similar to Skype. Of course, the customer can also review and comment on a project on their own.

This remote communication is InVision's greatest strength. Thanks to the collaboration functions, there is no longer any need for long feedback emails, which may also require a lot of interpretation and lead to further communication. With us, the customer can now "write his wishes directly into the product".

Collaboration Tool InVision - Screenshot from the user interface
The customer can now place his comments and remarks exactly on the objects in question. This saves time and makes customer requests easier to understand.

Collaboration tool allows real-time work thanks to Dropbox and Google Drive connection

Another strength of InVision is the ability to work in real time. InVision is seamlessly connected via Dropbox, Google Drive or the InVision Sync tool and syncs files continuously. As a designer or developer, you have the option to upload PSD or SketchApp files. InVision uses them to create screens that can be displayed on the desktop as well as on tablets or smartphones. For example, if you change the color of a button in the source file, it will also change directly in InVision. The customer or team members can thus track changes directly via the collaboration tool.

InVision also offers the option to be notified by e-mail when a comment has been left or a change has been made to the layout. Depending on the project, you can also set whether you want to be notified immediately or at a predefined time.

For teams that rely on Slack there is the possibility to link InVision and Slack and have changes to prototypes posted directly to a channel.

Versioning allows easy evaluation of WordPress projects

In addition, InVision automatically creates a history of the file so that all changes can be viewed again and old versions can be compared with the customer. This function is also useful for evaluating WordPress projects. This way, we can not only optimize our development process, but also our interaction with the customer.

Another screenshot from the collaboration tool invision
See all the changes at a glance and weigh up which version is best.

Click prototypes enable interactive mockups

In most cases, we get a static layout from the client, which we then implement in WordPress . In the past, these static drafts were submitted to the customer for review after each milestone, adjusted and, under certain circumstances, fed back again for checking - still as a static draft. Especially with larger WordPress projects, these reviews could take up a lot of time.

InVision offers a solution for this called "prototyping". Roughly speaking, the program connects several static screens and allows you to simulate a menu navigation, for example. This is an ingenious feature, because it allows you to show your customers directly how their new Theme or shop will behave later on. The look and feel of the product can be conveyed much better than with static mockups.

This also makes it easier for developers to understand how the designer envisions the end product. In addition, the collaboration tool helps to find and eliminate bottlenecks or usability traps already in the development process.

And the prototypes have another advantage: even before the actual development, the customer can experience what the product will look like. This saves the need for consultation afterwards and thus time and money.

However, you have to set up this prototyping first. This requires some training on the part of the designers, but is worthwhile in the later course of the project.

Screenshot number 3 from the collaboration tool Invision
Prototyping not only helps the designer find mistakes, but also the customer and developer. They can more easily understand how the final product should look and behave.

The installation takes only a few minutes – plus you get a detailed tutorial

Setting up InVision is very easy. To register with InVision, all you need is an email address and a password of your choice. After that, you'll receive a confirmation email and you're ready to go. InVision will then guide you through a comprehensive tutorial.

In addition, InVision offers a wide range of tutorial videos that explain how to work with retina images, transparent navigations or overlays, for example. If you still have questions afterwards, there is a FAQ section that covers many specific questions.

Thanks to the free entry package, the collaboration tool is also worthwhile for freelancers.

InVision is free of charge. With restrictions, of course. The so-called "Free Plan" is limited to one project. Of course, once you finish a project, you can just delete everything in it and start over. If you want to keep your old WordPress projects, then the pay plans start at $15 a month. If you're willing to pay a little more, you can get the "Professional Plan" for $25 a month. With this plan, you can create a variety of WordPress projects and download the prototypes for offline use. In our case, the cost of the tool quickly paid for itself. The calculation is relatively simple: If you save just one hour of work (and a lot of nerves) per month, InVision has already paid for itself.

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Conclusion: Regardless of whether InVision or not, we can only recommend Collaborationtools as a solution for customer-oriented development and design work.

With InVision, we have the opportunity to involve the customer more in the design and development process. Reviews of the "look and feel" by mail are a thing of the past. It's about time, because neither for us as a service provider nor for our customers was this a really productive solution. Our customers agree and welcome the use of the tool across the board. Especially important for us: The customers get the feeling of being more involved in the process.

As designers and developers, we also like InVision's high compatibility with our existing tools, such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Photoshop, as well as the regular updates and new features. It has noticeably accelerated and streamlined our workflow. We can therefore recommend InVision without reservation.

Have you had any experience with similar tools? Can you recommend one in particular? We look forward to your feedback!

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