ith design teams around the world adjusting to the reality of working from home, processes that felt common and natural in the office are needing adapting too. From all-virtual design reviews, to user testing and developer handoff, teams are modifying their workflows to be effective remotely. If you or your team are new to working remote full-time, you may be trying to piece together the routines and tools that are most effective for you.
If you’re already using Adobe XD as part of your design and prototyping process, we’ve compiled some ideas of how you can leverage XD and its catalogue of plugins and integrations to help your team collaborate in this new work environment.
User Flows, whiteboarding, & ideation
In the early stages of design, collaboration is important in gaining an understanding of a problem, and exploring possible directions for a solution. Doing this at a distance, without a physical space to whiteboard and ideate in real time can be challenging. Fire up your favourite video conference software, and leverage these tools to close the gap.
Leverage plugins like Overflow to sync your Adobe XD artboards into the Overflow tool and create shareable user-flow diagrams with ease.
Alternatively if you want to keep your flow diagrams within your XD file, the Adobe Design team built a custom built plugin to help your team whiteboard in Adobe XD. You can also leverage libraries like FlowKit to use pre-built components for quickly mapping out your user flow, directly on canvas.
XD’s Live Coediting (beta) feature is a great tool for interactive whiteboarding sessions with your team. Fire up a video conference, and share the cloud link to your teammates.
Design syncs & critiques
When you’re used to sharing your work in person, right in front of your team, transitioning to virtual design syncs and critiques can be challenging. Recording a video call can help, but often requires reviewing after the fact.
Use the ‘Design Review’ link in ‘Share’ mode, and send a link to your team before the call, or attach it to the calendar invite. While you present, have team members or a designated team member use the annotate feature to pin comments to the elements you’re receiving feedback on.
Presenting feature concepts to stakeholders
There may be times you need to present new concept ideas outside of the design and product management teams for feedback. With many people now working from home, taking care of their children at the same time and adjusting to a completely different schedule, getting everyone in a (virtual) room to do this can be a challenge. Asynchronous feedback can be valuable here.
Record your prototype walkthrough with voiceover to walk stakeholders through the concept. Share this in a specified slack channel so that team members can provide feedback asynchronously as time permits.
If using a video call, you can use a ‘Presentation’ link from Share mode to create a full-screen presentation view of your prototype, and either walk through it yourself, or have your audience follow along on their own devices.
Where normally you might have several teammates watching a user test onsite, that can be challenging, or intimidating to do with multiple people in a virtual environment.
Using the ‘User Testing’ share link is great in this situation as it hides the clickable hotspots, and opens the design as full size in your browser window, making it as realistic as possible.
Making use of component states to add hover interactions to your design can improve the fidelity of your test, and can provide valuable user-feedback as the tester navigates through the design.
Record your user test using built-in recording options in tools like Zoom, or using Quicktime or other tools, so that you can share the results with your team. Be sure to share your ‘User Testing’ links with the team so they can click along too.
If you’re looking to test with a large audience, Adobe XD connects to user testing plugins like usertesting.com and userlytics, so you can package up your prototype and build a test quickly and easily.
Working with copywriters remotely
Copy is an integral piece to an effective design. Having copywriters and designers work closely together is a good way to ensure design and language are thought of cohesively. If you’re used to working side by side with a copywriting team, and are trying to find tools to enable the same tight collaboration remotely, the following tools should help.
Use data plugins like Google Sheets or Data Populator for Adobe XD to populate your designs with copywriter-approved content. Copywriting teams can update a single Google sheet as copy changes, allowing the designer to simply update the content in Adobe XD with the click of a button.
If you’re designing for different geographies or languages, the World Ready plugin can help you quickly test copy in your designs in various languages.
Showcasing a future vision
It can be difficult to create excitement around new designs as teammates are adjusting to a new way of working. Creating a prototype to paint the vision of where your product is going, and sharing it across your team can help create that excitement and boost morale.
Component states help make the prototype feel like a real product by including hover states, selected states, and more.
Use Anchor Links to prototype navigation within a single page, or scrolling to a defined section, again adding realism to your prototype.
Use the share links to send this out to the company, or send to select invited teammates to keep your future vision within your team.
Prepare your projects for development handoff
Once your design is complete, communicating with development effectively is important to ensuring it is realized in the right way. Adobe XD has many tools to help ease this transition, and collaborate with your development team, when you can’t physically be in the same space and walk through a design side-by-side.
Record your prototype with a voiceover, paying extra attention to the details a development team might want to know: Interactions (what triggers a particular interaction); Empty states; Loading behaviors.
Mark assets for export in your design so development teams don’t need to search for them in shared folders.
Generate a ‘Developer’ link in share mode so that developers can navigate your design and inspect the elements for colors, assets, positioning, and code snippets.
Leverage Jira integrations to embed Adobe XD links directly into the developer workflow.
If you and your team are new to working from home, remember that you’re all learning together. Teams across the globe are taking steps to transition their workflows and adapting to a new way of work. It’s important to not be discouraged when getting started, as there may be times where productivity and creativity doesn’t feel as optimal as it should. That’s normal, and can be overcome. We’re all in this together, and you don’t have to look far to find inspiration if you get stuck. Follow along with the Daily Creative Challenge, check out awesome work on Behance or Dribbble, or set up a video call with fellow designers in the community to stay connected.
Make space in your day to breathe and find your new creative space, and find time to learn something new. We hope that the above tips and tricks can help ease your transition to working from home and creating amazing things with your distributed team.