Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Conduct meetings online with Bench

The corporate world is moving from physical to virtual offices. The days of going to office and attending important meetings are becoming fewer by the number. And why shouldn’t they be? With the increase in transport and logistics problems, everybody prefers to stay at home and finish their work from there. In the bargain, they save some precious travelling time. With this increasing trend, we hear more terms like work from home, freelancing, and so on.

While the problem of staying connected to the network is increasingly solved by better remote network solutions, the challenge lies in connecting with your clients. The audio/video toll-free bridges did solve the problem to some extent, but that was all they could do: share voice and video. The need urgently arose for more. Organizations were looking for not just interaction, but collaboration. People needed to not just see and hear but also share more data in real time.

The online market cottoned on to this need of the hour and a huge surge in the number of online collaboration tools and applications was witnessed. In the last few years, many such applications have been launched with their number still increasing.

With so many competent tools out there, how do you pick one? Well, we’re here to help! Today we bring to you the complete, tried-and-tested review of Bench. Read on to know if this online meeting platform can actually do what it claims: get shit done!

Benching with Bench

The highest selling point of Bench is that it works on a browser. That means you don’t have to worry about downloading the program, checking if it is compatible with your system, installing it, and encourage other people to download it. Just log on to your account in Bench and share the browser link with your meeting participants. It’s really that simple!

Think of the Bench as a physical work table that is used by all parties to work on and share what they are working on in real time. With Bench you can send text messages, make notes, share files, and even work on the files together as a team. And the best part of it all is that everything you do on the bench stays there unless you wish otherwise.

Let us take a look at some of the best features of Bench:

  • No more dialing-in business. With Bench, all you need to do is share your browser link with your team and you are set to collaborate.
  • Sending agendas on emails is in the past. You can make a note of things you wish to discuss with your team and share it with them before the meeting.
  • Bench comes with a whiteboard, so if during the meeting you need to sketch something out or just showcase your creativity, you can use the whiteboard to shine. Of course, everybody can work on the whiteboard simultaneously; that’s what collaboration is, isn’t it?
  • It allows you to share screenshots of single tabs, the whole desktop, whatever you need.
  • The files you want to share with the rest of the team can be saved before the meeting starts. The tool gives you the facility of creating folders and saving all your files in them. The folder is accessible by all participants.

The audio quality of Bench is out of this world. Give it a try, you will really feel like you are all working on a single work bench. The tool is a fun to work with and ensures full participation of all parties in the conference.

How to work with Bench

There’s no installer program that comes with Bench; just a light-weight extension that can be installed on your browser. It takes no more than a few seconds. There is a demo available on the tool’s website that you can check out to learn about it quickly. It doesn’t need to sign up too!

To start using the tool you need to create an account. Click on “sign up” on the top right corner and punch in your credentials to do that. Once you create an account, Bench gives you a dashboard with your benches listed on it. You can click the New Bench button in the right navigation pane to create a new bench. The bench you create will be displayed within your dashboard. Click on it to open it.

After you open the bench, click the Invite to talk button in the left navigation pane to share the link of your meeting with everybody else. To share files with your team, click the Add files button in the right navigation pane. You can drag-and-drop files into the tool’s interface, click to browse, or upload them via online platforms like Dropbox.

To create notes that you need to focus on in your next meetings or just points you need to remember, click the Note button. Clicking the Whiteboard button opens a drawing space with all the required drawing tools you might need. They’re pretty basic but then, to present more complex ideas you’d be using a proper presentation tool, right? Other options include New Folder creation and Streaming and Screenshot that allow you to show your browser and desktop to the other participants LIVE.

To go back to your dashboard, click on “My Benches” on the top left.

Pros VS Cons

Key benefits of the tool include:

  • The tool is free of cost so it’s ideal for freelancers and non-profit organizations. They have reasonably priced packages for teams as well as organizations.
  • Bench really does a good job at making remote working stress-free since everything is done in real-time.
  • The tool is completely collaboration-friendly; doesn’t need any installations.

Drawbacks include:

  • The first time you use Bench, you might get a little confused with so many things happening at once. But since the learning curve is pretty low, everything starts to make sense really soon.
  • We really wish it could work with mobile phones. While it does work on tablets, we are hoping mobile integration is somewhere on the roadmap.
  • Make online collaboration fun, with Bench usebench.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Take

Other than the few obvious limitations, we absolutely love Bench. And we totally encourage you to give it a chance. In our opinion, Bench could be better than any other collaborating app there exists today in the market.

Ace user experience design with UXPin

Modern products and services are all about excelling in the field of customer satisfaction. The organizations that have user experience, popularly known as UX, as their primary objective are the ones that have the highest chances of success as compared to others. That’s the reason modern day UX designers are some of the highest paid professionals in the technology field. But when the costs go high, the road gets steep for small organizations. What they need is killer UX design skills at a price they can afford. Enter – UXPin.

UXPin – Collaborative UX design tool

UXPin is an online tool that lets you and your team work collectively on wire-framing, prototyping, user testing and more without the need of writing code. It lets you create user flows, static / interactive designs, prototypes with advanced states, and interactive wire-frames within minutes and share them with your team in different formats (PDF, PNG, HTML, etc). Other team-mates can monitor the designs shared with them, leave their feedback in the form of comments and notify the people the comments are meant for. You can even get manager approvals for your UX designs directly through the tool. With its state-of-the-art features and easy working interface, UXPin is one tool that helps save teams hundreds of hours by simplifying product development and collaboration through elimination of coding.

Some of the most interesting features of UXPin include:

  • Thousands of built-in elements for UX designing on mobile, web, and desktop
  • Editor for building static / interactive designs and advanced prototypes with interactions
  • Facility to import designs from Sketch and Photoshop
  • Custom libraries to help you standardize your designs
  • Auto-update that reflects changes you make to one element in all other elements of your design
  • Lets you assign roles and permissions to team members
  • Enables tracking project status in the dashboard
  • Eliminates lengthy redlining of mockups with spec mode

UXPin can play a pivotal role in bringing distributed UX design teams together through its platform. With this one tool, people sitting across different continents can work together in real-time. It lets teams quickly test their UX designs across platforms and allows people to actually go into a design and cut and paste components where needed. It is a tool that lets you go beyond the traditional limits of designing.

Here’s how you can use UXPin

You can jump right into the action by starting with UXPin’s free trial. It is simple to register. All you have to do is enter your company email address where required and hit on the big blue button that says “Start using it now!” on the tool’s homepage. You could also let the experts at UXPin give you and your team a helpful demo. For now, let’s stick to the free trial.

Once you’ve entered your email id, the tool will ask you for a few more details before proceeding. It’s the usual process most tools follow to customize themselves to suit your needs better. Typically, the details you’d need to provide would include the size of your design team, information as to how you got to know about UXPin, and what role you play in your project. A short and sweet tour later, you will arrive at your dashboard.

In the dashboard you’ll see a dummy project, options to add new members or manage your team, options to upgrade, and most importantly, the option to create a new project. We suggest to start with new project creation as that will give you the most exposure to UXPin’s features. Click on “Create new project” and give it a name. Save and proceed.

The next screen will ask you to choose between using the UXPin editor to create designs from scratch or import them from Photoshop or Sketch. We chose to start from scratch and arrived at the handsome UXPin editor. The UXPin editor has a gray colored work area in the center of the screen with drag-and-droppable elements on the left. By default, the “Basic Elements” library is selected but you can change that through a convenient drop-down. You can create pages and layers in your design and name it whatever you wish to. The top margin of the work area is lined with more editing options, a play button that says “Preview”, and a button that lets you “Share” your prototype or wire-frame with your team.

When you’re done, click on the “More” button at the top right of the screen and then click on “Log out”.

Pluses VS Minuses

The pluses are many and can be easily gathered from the features section. The tool isn’t very costly either.

As far as the minuses are concerned, we think there are a few minor ones:

  • The tool does have a slight learning curve associated with it. It might take some time for getting used to.
  • A good catch suggested by one of the designers is the lack of an “Offline” mode in the tool. You’d always need to be connected to the Internet to work on UXPin.
  • The tool could benefit from more design options like fonts and customizations.
  • The tool #UX designers across the world are loving: @uxpin uxpin.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Verdict

Overall, UXPin is one tool no UX designer should miss. Despite the tiny drawbacks, it is awesomely useful owing to the advanced editor and integrated collaboration features.

Present your ideas better, with Symu

When working in an organization, brainstorming and coming up with innovative ideas is considered quite a big deal. That’s how the wizards of technology develop cool stuff for users. But as a designer or developer, thinking of something great and explaining that idea to teammates are two different tasks. It is essential that the purpose you’re trying to achieve doesn’t get lost in describing the functionality to others. And that’s precisely why so often, practical examples, or more correctly, mockups are used to demonstrate ideas.

Interested yet? If you are, we’ve got a brilliant tool for you this time that will not only help you present your ideas in an awesome way, but will also act as an online collaboration and project monitoring tool where you can share your ideas with teammates through links, accept their feedback, and apply changes accordingly. Plus, you could do a lot more. Get ready to checkout Symu!

Symu – Present Practically & Professionally

Symu is an online tool that enables you to present your projects in a browser. Projects here mean website designing projects with actual working button clicks, links, animations and targets. The tool lets you prepare dynamic presentations for your websites with features such as fixed headers, clickable hotspots, etc. Moreover, you can create dedicated folders for each of your projects in the Symu portal where you can add teammates and give them permissions and accesses to upload work collectively. It even lets you upload video files and accept feedback on them as comments.

It lets you work through a 6 step process:

  • Upload your project (as an image file or a design file)
  • Create clickable mockups (buttons, links, targets)
  • Save the changes
  • Share the project with your team via email
  • Get feedback on the project in the form of comments (each comment is made into a task automatically so that it can be tracked easily)
  • Work on the feedback, share again

It’s as simple as that. Additionally, the tool also lets you manage your workflow by arranging your tasks in progress, ready for review, on hold, approved through a convenient drag-and-drop feature.

Enough with the talk, let’s get some hands-on experience.

Tool Usage

To get in the action, sign up for free with the “Sign up free” button on the homepage. The tool requests for your name and email address, or you can sign up with your Facebook or Google credentials. Thereafter, you’ll be asked to activate your account by confirming that you received an email from Symu.

When your account has been activated, you’ll be directed to your Symu dashboard. You’ll see the option to upload your project. You can upload files of JPG, PNG, or PSD formats. Once the picture has been uploaded, you can begin working with it. You’ll find a “More” option on the upper right corner of the uploaded picture. Click on it to see various options like Copy URL, Share Project, Assets, Versions, Duplicate, etc. By default the image you upload will be kept in the outer-most directory level, but you can move it to any folder that you create. Check the box on the upper left corner of the image and a file menu of sorts will appear on the top of the screen with the options to Share, set project Status, Move, Duplicate, or Delete.

To edit the image, hover over the image. A button that says “View Screen” will appear in the center of the image. Click on it to open your uploaded image in full screen mode with a ton of editing options in the left hand panel. The options include:

  • Versions: A look at all the different versions of the uploaded image
  • Comments: Options to allow comments on the image or not. To add comments on the image, click on it anywhere. That should open up a comment dialog.
  • Build mode: Click and drag over the image to select an area. As you release the mouse, a pop-up will open with options to set the destination that will open when you click on the image next. This functionality lets you set target on clicks (beneficial for button clicks).
  • Desktop mode: Option to view the image as it would appear on desktop, mobile or tablet
  • Upload option
  • Settings: Image editing options
  • Share
  • Status: Option to put the image on hold, for review, mark as approved, archive

When you’re done with editing and wish to return to your dashboard, click on the Symu logo on the upper left corner of the screen. Another set of options you’ll find on your dashboard screen will be in the main menu on the top. Here you’ll find:

  • Projects
  • Workflow
  • Tasks
  • Activity
  • Shared
  • Teams

Pretty self-explanatory we guess!

Additional features include free templates, UI kits, etc. that you can access through the “Freebies” button on the upper right corner. To access many more of the awesome features of this tool, start your free trial and upgrade to one of the pricing plans later.

  • Present your projects dynamically within your browser with @SymuCo symu.co/ via @supermonitoring

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Concluding Lines

Symu is quite a promising tool that budding designers should definitely try out. It is gradually capturing the interest of field enthusiasts and hopefully will soon rise as one of the dynamic presentation tools having the most potential.

Collaborate Better with RealtimeBoard

People who work in teams understand the purpose and vitality of whiteboards. What looks like a simple, glossy, white surface actually solves the purpose of a thousand notebooks, scrap books, blueprints, maps, or any other term you might want to give to something that is used while planning and brainstorming for development. Today, you’d hardly find an organization that doesn’t use whiteboards in its discussion rooms. Even schools have made a switch from black and green boards to the more sleek white boards, and there’s a genuine reason behind the liking. Whiteboards are smoother, easier and quicker to clean, and can also be used as projector backgrounds. No wonder they’ve become so popular.

realtimeboard

With technology taking people places, project teams have become distributed. People often make use of online tools to collaborate and share ideas. Even meetings are conducted through video conferencing. But then, how can whiteboards be carried around? Does that mean teams no longer have a tangible place to brainstorm and depict their ideas through flow diagrams?

Well, that’s where RealtimeBoard comes into picture.

RealtimeBoard – collaboration made simple!

RealtimeBoard is an online tool that plays the role of an infinite whiteboard. Just as whiteboard can be reused over and over again by erasing and rewriting on it, RealtimeBoard lets distributed teams brainstorm seamlessly. The platform is laced with simple sharing options and powerful collaboration features to provide seamless communication and boost productivity. Moreover, it allows users to keep everything they need on a daily basis at one place including post-it notes, images, videos, documents, diagrams, spreadsheets, Google Drive files and more.’

The makers of the tool work with the mantra – “a picture paints a thousand words”. If you ask us, RealtimeBoard lives up to that mantra in every single aspect.

Here are some of its most remarkable features:

  • Easily customizable flexible workspace to jot down ideas, or build an entire project on the board
  • Facilitates remote collaboration with teams scattered all around the world
  • Uses an intuitive toolkit to create mockups and schemes, and leave feedback on your colleagues’ inputs
  • Enables easy addition of files, images and documents from your computer and Google Drive
  • Contains built-in collections and integrated libraries of icons, wireframes and other content ready to be used on your boards
  • Includes cool templates that you can refer to draw ideas for your projects
  • Allows you to share your whiteboard with your team and collaborate in real time
  • Easy conversion of whiteboard into presentations using the Frames tool

realtimeboard1

Here’s how you can use RealtimeBoard

Visit the tool’s homepage and click on the blue button that says, “Start Collaborating Now”. You’ll be asked to sign up. Just punch in your name, work email and a password. Next, you’ll be asked to provide your official details, as in, team name, company size and a work phone. You can also start adding teammates immediately or leave that to later. A few more details later, you’ll be all set. If you wish to, you can watch a 2 minute video about how to use RealtimeBoard on the next screen. That will save you a lot of time of exploring the platform.

Post signup, you’ll have access to all premium features of the tool for 14 days. Once the trial period expires, you’ll have the choice to either downgrade your account to a basic one or pay to keep your premium features.

Once you’ve reached your board, you’ll see a grid layout depicting your whiteboard. On the left hand panel you’ll see a toolbar including various editing options – Insert Tool, Selection, Text Box, Sticky Note, Shape Drawing Tool, Pencil, Comment Box, Undo / Redo Button, Frames Tool (to create presentations from whiteboard), Full screen Toggle, Zoom In / Out Button. Go ahead, give the whiteboard a try, it’s quite simple really.

Once you have some ideas drawn or inserted or pasted (sticky notes) on the board, you can choose to export it as an image, PDF, download as backup, save to Google Drive, or attach to JIRA. To do this, click on the up arrow on the top left side of the screen next to your board’s name. Alternatively, you can invite teammates to edit the ideas or leave their comments. This can be done by clicking on the message icon on the bottom right corner of the screen. You can also share the board with other people by emailing them the link of the board. For this, click on the “Share” button on the upper right corner of the screen.

If you click on the home icon on the upper left corner of the screen, you’ll be redirected to your dashboard. Here, you can view all your different whiteboards and also keep monitoring the whiteboards other people have shared with you. This screen also displays some helpful examples of whiteboards fitting to different scenarios.

realtimeboard2

Pros VS Cons

RealtimeBoard proves to be quite an interesting brainstorming platform for distributed teams. It has a lot of pros associated with it which are evident from its feature description and usage. But there are a few drawbacks too.

  • Deleting stuff on the board is tricky. You have to select the object to be deleted through the selecting pointer (arrow on the upper left corner of the toolbar), then right click to open a pop-up menu and then select delete. A simple erase button would’ve been more convenient.
  • The tool is truly beneficial only for teams that have people located at different physical places. In house teams can be much quicker with actual whiteboards.
  • The tool isn’t free of cost unlike the good old physical whiteboards.
  • Take your whiteboard wherever you go, try @realtimeboard realtimeboard.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Verdict

Good tool, but only for those who wish to bring in a certain level of organization to their brainstorming sessions.

Smooth screen sharing & web conferencing with join.me

Collaboration is the key to success in the modern world. Be it technology, design, or business, teams need to share their ideas and brainstorm in order to come up with the perfect product or service. As such, there’s no dearth of great tools that can provide an optimum platform for the same. But in a market practically overloaded with online, free utilities for the purpose, picking a trustworthy and competent one could be difficult.

joinme

Not actually, if you’ve got us to help you out! As always, we’re reviewing another brilliant online platform in this article. The tool in focus today is join.me; quite a popular name among collaboration tools.

Join.me – Collaborate better, online!

If you work in a distributed team, a simple task such as a status meeting could mean having everyone connected through conference calls. Imagine the kind of technical aspects that would need to be taken care of if you needed to demonstrate a design or a POC (proof of concept) or functionality to your counterparts or clients sitting in another country. You’ll need equipment to establish a secure connection, voice and image sharing tools and often screen sharing tools too. What if you could have all of that through one platform that comes with two major advantages – it’s free of cost and it doesn’t need any installations.

Join.me makes this possible. It is an instant online meeting solution that makes team-work easier than ever before. Screen sharing, audio / video conferencing and collaboration in a few clicks; that’s how simple it really is. The success mantra behind this platform is that it is easy to start, join and manage. And if you’re a viewer (not an active participant) in the meeting, you don’t even need to install anything on your machine. Just log on to the portal and choose to “Join a meeting”.

Here’s a look at the most prominent features of join.me:

  • The tool offers a new take on video conferencing. Called video bubbles, join.me facilitates light, floating visual images of you and other members. You can view live bubbles of one-another during meetings. You can even play with them (grab and bounce) if you’re bored!
  • User provisioning, tight policy and permission control, single-sign on, and detailed reporting, join.me is one of the most secure online meeting solutions.
  • It facilitates unlimited audio services using VoIP and dedicated conference lines in more than 40 countries. Includes audio conferencing by phone and Internet audio (VoIP) to enable you to see and hear everything in real time.
  • Gives users the freedom to join meeting from any device (desktops, laptops, tablets, or Smartphone) thus empowering your workforce to be more productive while on the move.
  • Allows you to record meetings so that you can refer to them later or share the recording with participants who missed them. To store recorded videos you’ll need a Pro account (5GB cloud storage) or an Enterprise account (5TB cloud storage).
  • One-click scheduler lets you set up meetings in advance. You can also choose to setup join.me meetings directly in Outlook or Google Calendar.
  • Swapping screens between presenters is super smooth too. One presenter can simply make any other participant the presenter so they can broadcast their screen with full control.
  • Offers you the control to personalize the link to join a meeting.
  • With join.me Pro account, you can add team members to make the whole experience more effective.

joinme2

Ranked number 1 in speed and ease of use, join.me has up to 90% of the fortune 500 companies among its user base. The service is ideal for sales demos, idea generation, external presentations and ad hoc get-togethers.

Tool Usage

To start using join.me for free, click on “Log in” on the upper right corner of the screen. First time users can then sign up for an account with LogMeIn services (creators or join.me). Once your account is created, you’ll see a pop-up asking you to start your Pro account trial. If you’re not ready to start with that yet, there’s an option to “skip” this step for now. Following screens are related to the Pro account as well so you can just let them be.

To get a glimpse of the action, start hosting a meeting or join a meeting through a smaller pop-up window just below the Pro account one. If you host a meeting, you’ll get a one-time code that you can share via email with other participants. To join a meeting, enter the one-time code that someone else shared with you via email. If you choose to host a meeting, you’ll need to download and install the join.me app on your machine. The download will begin automatically and once it completes, open it and start sharing your screen.

Pros VS Cons

Do we really need to revisit the plus points? Well, if you insist!

  • Instant screen sharing & video conferencing with VoIP
  • Online meetings with unlimited audio conferencing and more features for less than $20 per user / month that’s billed annually
  • Premium meetings with advanced management capabilities for less than $25 per user / month that’s billed annually
  • Smooth working on a variety of devices
  • Facility to record and save meetings
  • One-click meeting scheduler
  • Allows file transfer and presenter swapping

When it comes to pointing out the negative points of join.me they’re quite difficult to find. Except of course the fact that despite the claims of the tool to be number 1 in speed, the quality of the video or screen sharing will depend upon your internet connection speed.

  • Communicate using instant screen sharing and web conferencing through @joinme join.me/ via @supermonitoring

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Summing it up

All in all, join.me is one of the best collaboration tools in the market today. It’s simple and straightforward; a tool that actually focuses more on work and less on talk. So get productive!

Present your designs in style with Prevue.it

Are you a designer? Do you make or review hundreds of designs each month? Is sharing your designs with clients mostly an email only job requiring heavy attachments that sometimes fail to attach? Do you wish there was an easier way?

Okay enough with the barrage of questions! But on a serious note, if for you, the answer to the questions above is ‘Yes’, you’ll be delighted with what we have in store for you. A brilliant online tool that allows designers to upload their designs as presentations (we did mention the style bit right?), share them with clients (gone are the days of PDF or email sharing) and get immediate client feedback (cool like social networking!). Excited yet?

prevue

Prevue – Design styling for pros

Could the name be any more appropriate? Prevue allows your clients to ‘preview’ your designs as presentations and leave their suggestions and feedback at one easy-to-understand-and-use online platform. This makes the design phase of the Project Lifecycle easier and much more fun. This unique tool gives the whole usually lengthy task a new feel and style thus making work better.

Here’s what makes Prevue so irresistible:

  • Allows designers to upload their designs (as images) through simple drag-and-drop into their library from where they can view each image in full screen.
  • Allows creation of projects and client groups where all designs can be accumulated as work-in-progress thus making collaboration easier.
  • By way of adding comments to projects and images, clients can leave quick and direct feedback.
  • Stylized editing options like retina, auto-crop background, control positioning, color etc. enable you to make sure your designs catch the clients’ eyes at first glance.
  • Allows presenting designs from any browser, thus eliminating the need to install necessary software at client location.
  • Allows you to create branded designs by applying your agency logos on all your work.
  • Enables you to invite your team to the platform to manage feedback and images in your library or just see the work-in-progress in real time.

prevue1

Here’s how to use Prevue

To start using Prevue, create an account. The sign-up is free and easy and can be done by clicking on any of the large convenient buttons on the home page. Just punch in your email address and a password and hit enter. You’ll be welcomed to the platform with a pleasant pop-up and a message reminding you to drag your Prevue profile link to your bookmarks. Neat!

A free account entitles you to upload up to 30 images to your profile. Drag-and-drop images from your computer to the middle of the screen to upload them. You can also click on a ‘cloud with an upward arrow’ sign or on the ‘+’ sign next to the word ‘Images’ to browse and upload images. There is, however, a catch here. You can upload images only less than 5MB in size. Unfortunately, this is not mentioned anywhere on the website, not even on the Help page. We had to learn this through trial-and-error.

Once an image is uploaded, it can be edited / replaced, renamed or deleted. These options can be accessed through a settings icon beneath each image. Click on it and choose what you wish to do with the image. If you choose to edit the image, you’re redirected to a page with these editing options for the image:

  • Distance from top (e.g, Top or 10px)
  • Horizontal position (left, center, right)
  • Background color (choose from a palette or let the tool auto-detect)
  • Background image (none, use an image, Smart Crop)
  • Enable Retina

Once you’ve done the desired changes, click on Save (you’ll see an option to select ‘view after saving’ on hovering on the Save button) or simply hit enter. Another loophole here was the absence of an Undo button if you would like to reverse a change. Of course, exiting without saving reverses all changes, a convenient Undo button would eliminate the need to go back and enter edit mode again.

In addition to the above mentioned options, you can also choose to Share the image (through a copy-able URL or through Tweet), Move it to a project, Rename it or Delete it. Moreover, forward and backward arrows toward the upper right side of the screen allow you to smoothly switch between images and open them in the editor directly.

On the left hand side of the screen, you’ll always see the options to go back to the Home screen, upload more images, add images to projects (option visible from within a project), create a client, and view your timeline. Each term is self-explanatory and the associated operation easy to understand. Additionally, once you’ve created a project and added images to it, you can choose to:

  • Manage Project
  • Edit Images
  • View Project Stats
  • View Feedback
  • View / Edit Project Settings

All-in-all, there’s a lot to play around with once you’re inside.

prevue2

Pros VS Cons

Though they’re pretty evident by now, here are the plus points compared to the minus points at a glance:

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Affordable
  • Improves collaboration
  • Easy feedback process
  • Allows presenting designs from within browser
  • Allows you to brand your work by applying logos
  • Sufficient project management options appropriate for a design sharing platform

Cons

  • Image up to 5MB can be uploaded, so not much of an advantage over the email/PDF attachment size limit
  • No indication of the maximum size of image that can be uploaded
  • No Undo button within the editing area
  • More editing options can be added
  • Present your designs to clients from within the browser with @prevueit prevue.it/ via @supermonitoring

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To sum it up

Trust us. The simplicity, utility and affordability of the tool will blow you away, despite its minor drawbacks. Try it out for a free 14 days if you’re unsure. If you like it, shelling out $10 a month would be something you happily do for a tool that’s so cool!

Work better with Podio

There’s a new trend hitting the markets – Project Management Software. Though some of them have been around since quite some time, the last couple of years has seen a sudden growth in the launch of online software that are aimed at helping organizations better connect and structure their work. And since the competition in the field is growing, each new day we come across a new Project Management tool that has something different and additional as compared to its competitors.

podio

Take the example of Podio. On first look, Podio seems to be just another project management tool offering creation of projects, managing timesheets, sharing work details etc. However, as you begin exploring the tool and go through its features in detail, you discover, that it in fact has many layers packed inside it that give it albeit only a slight, yet noticeable edge over its competition. So let’s check out this online project management software today and see how much water it holds.

Podio – A fresh way to collaborate and organize

Podio works on a very simple methodology – everyone should know what they’re doing and should have the means to take responsibility for their job. So basically, its all about transparency, minimal hierarchy and peer recognition. Podio promises to promotes these beliefs to improve work, everyday. They follow the practice of collaboration and empowerment over command and control. With Podio, every member of the team has complete freedom to work they way he/she wants to. So if you’re a team leader or manager, you don’t have to bother with assigning tasks and letting people know what they’re supposed to do. Instead discuss the larger picture with them and allow them to work the way they want to. All the stuff you wish to put up somewhere for your team to see, you can put on Podio. That way, your team has more room for creativity and productivity to flow in. Well, the thought is nice actually!

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Let’s take a brief overview of Podio’s features:

  • Everything related to one project on one page (called an Item); this includes all the work right from completing a design for the project to closing a sales lead. This makes collaboration easier and transparent.
  • All information on the project page is updated in real time; attaching files, viewing statuses and leaving feedback and suggestions through comments is as easy as clicking.
  • Variety of views supported for each project from simple tables to dynamic cardboards. You can choose the view that best visualizes your work.
  • Create reports that keep you updated on your progress as well as the project’s so you can focus on just your responsibilities or see the overall progress of your team.
  • Track your customers and organize your team with Podio as your customizable CRM.
  • Podio can integrate seamlessly with Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote and more to be the one platform that ties all your team’s work together.
  • Podio helps foster a more friendly team environment by making communication more streamlined and reducing internal emailing.
  • You can use Podio in your web browser or an Android or iOS device.
  • It offers a full, open API to allow you to extend Podio yourself.
  • It’s simple drag-and-drop interface gives users complete flexibility without the need of coding.

The best part about Podio is its collaboration with Citrix. Being a trusted name in project management and collaboration circles, joining hands with Citrix gives Podio a trusty feel.

How it works

To start working on Podio just sign up for free through the link given on the homepage. Once you’ve confirmed your email address, you’ll be taken straight to the Welcome page where you need to fill in details about your company and your team members (email addresses only). After this, you’ll be redirected to a page where you can create Workspaces according to different teams or departments or different locations in your company. The concept of Workspace is somewhat similar in scope to Java Eclipse IDE.

Podio creates 3 default workspaces for you to start with; these include “Project Management”, “Intranet” and “Sales Management”. Each workspace includes some Apps that Podio sets up for you. These Apps are nothing but templates for creating and structuring any work activity like meeting, deliverables etc. All such activities are called Items in Podio. Items are basically super-smart documents that organize your work and get things done.

Once you’re through with the introductions to everything, you can get straight to work. You’ll be taken to the Project Management page of the tool where you can start Creating Projects and associated Items. Create Reports and Views for the project or break up the workload into Deliverables. Setup meetings and create Activities – in short, just get straight to business.

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Pros VS Cons

Podio seems to be a fairly competent tool with quite a lot of features. So naturally, it has a lot of plus points associated with it:

  • Better project management
  • Collaboration and sharing work is easier
  • The concept of Workspaces is unique to a project management tool
  • Simple interface
  • Impressive feature set
  • Available online so omnipresent
  • Benefit of trust (the Citrix factor)

However, there are some areas where there could be improvements:

  • It seems like a lot to take in at first
  • The pricing could be a little steep for small organizations so it’s basically suited for large businesses.
  • Work, collaborate and manage projects better with @podio podio.com/ via @supermonitoring

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To sum it up

With room for Project Management, CRM, Social Intranet, Workflow Management, Event Management, Team and Email Management and lots more, Podio sure is one tool that’s worth checking out. So if you have the pocket for it, don’t think too much. Signup and you won’t be disappointed.

Make better Gantt charts with TeamGantt

If your organization uses Gantt charts for project planning, you know they’re horizontal bar charts used to bring about better project management through production planning and control. Such charts provide a graphical illustration of a schedule that helps to plan, coordinate, and track specific tasks in a project. When they play such crucial role for organizations, even slight errors in them could lead to huge losses. It thus becomes pivotal to spend quality and ample time into their making and studying. Additionally, since Gantt charts are used in project planning, coworkers within a team or across teams need to share them among themselves and use them for frequent discussions.

With the advent of technology, everything literally, is moving to the online space. Taking the case of Gantt charts for instance, creating such charts to manage projects and sharing them with coworkers has now become an online thing. And this article is focused on an online tool that excels in the task. Presenting – TeamGantt.

teamgantt

TeamGantt – Online Gantt chart software

TeamGantt is an online software that brings a new and easy feel to Gantt charts. The tool boasts of making the entire process so easy that you can create a project plan in minutes. Moreover, it enables inviting coworkers, teammates and friends to view and edit Gantt charts online thus making everything simpler. With a user-friendly approach, this online Gantt chart software helps you better understand your projects by helping you see what everyone is working on, check for tasks that are lagging behind schedule, better organize things and make comparisons between what was planned and what is actually achieved.

Key benefits that TeamGantt offers:

  • Quickly create and edit Gantt charts online through simple drag and drop approach.
  • File sharing becomes easy since the software is online. You can also receive comments on shared files to help you better collect information.
  • Particularly worthy for managers since they can easily see who is working on what on a daily basis
  • Makes tracking progress easier.
  • Eliminates the need to download or update software

 

Additional features that make TeamGantt stand apart from its competition include:

  • See the project taking shape in a step-wise fashion
  • Individual task management becomes a lot more enhanced. For example, Even if you only have one project open, you can still see if they are assigned a task in another project.
  • You can view multiple projects in one Gantt chart
  • A single TeamGantt screen lets you view all conversations, files, tasks, assignments, availability and more right in your Gantt chart.
  • Enables information filtering by person, due date, progress status and more to cut out the clutter.
  • Allows to print Gantt charts in PDF format
  • Allows you to create your own Gantt chart templates and use them within your team.

 

With features as awesome as these (and more), who wouldn’t want to try it out?

How it works

Sign up for free through a convenient link on the homepage. Once that’s done you’ll be asked to login with the credentials you just created. Thereafter you’ll be taken to your account’s homepage. Here you’ll see options to view your Active Projects, Task List, Week View etc. which will be empty initially.

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You can start adding projects by clicking the “+ New Project“ button. On doing so, you’ll be given the option to create a new project from scratch or import an existing one from a CSV. You can even choose to duplicate an earlier project if you have one.

Once you’re through this step, you will be redirected to a page where you can add people or resources to the project. Once done, click on the “Done” button at the bottom of the screen to arrive at the main software screen.

Here you can actually get down to business. Create tasks, assign them to people, drag to mark deadlines; basically do what you need to do to get the ball rolling. If you’re into creating Gantt charts for some time, you’ll know what to do. And if you need help, watch a tutorial video by clicking on the link that says “Watch this quick video to learn how”.

In addition to this video, there are a lot of other tutorial videos that can be found on the TeamGantt “Learning Center”. They’re accompanied by Blog posts and articles on the topic to help newbies out. They also have a live chat option where a helpful assistant answers random queries you have and gives tips and pointers.

Strengths VS Weaknesses

The strengths of this tool are many and are basically evident from the list of features described above. Add to that the immensely powerful advantage of being omni-accessible owing to its web presence, and the tool is a clear winner.

The weakness of this tool lies in its pricing. For an account where you can create unlimited projects with unlimited users and 100 GB of file storage, you’ll need to fish out almost $250 per month. There are other plans too with lesser charges but they have lower storage, user and project numbers allowed. While large organizations may be able to afford a tool so pricy, it might be a little too steep for small teams looking to better manage their short-term projects.

  • Make project planning fun and interactive with online Gantt chart software @teamgantt teamgantt.com/ via @supermonitoring

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To sum it up

Overall, TeamGantt is a great online tool if you have the pocket for it. It anyways comes with a free 30 days trial so if the feature list is tempting you but you’re unsure, try it out first. If you really like it, buy one of their plans. If you decided against it, well, who’s stopping you from backing out?

Work, Talk & Share with your team in real time with Slack

If you’ve ever managed or been a part of a large team, you know how irritating it can be to wait for formalities like an approval to arrive in your mailbox before you can technically proceed. Similarly in the case of reports, even after you’ve just had a presentation or discussion within your team regarding results, you need to make it formal by typing a lengthy email with a report attached and send it to everyone on your mailing list; too cumbersome and frankly unnecessary if you ask us. It would all be much simpler if there could be something more informal and personalized that could be whipped up and shared quickly eliminating all time and technical constraints.

The good news is that a great app called Slack allows you to do just that!

slack

Slack – Real time messaging for corporate teams!

As much as it sounds like just another messaging app, it’s actually not. This app is designed specifically for professionals who wish to make inter-team communication better and simpler. With just the right mix of messaging-app glamour and corporate professionalism, this application is well on the track to become the next big thing.

Slack brings together so much in such a light look-and-feel that you’ll have a hard time initially to sink so much in. You can find something from most social platforms here – a little bit of WhatsApp (messaging groups, image sharing), pinch of Twitter (tag based topic search, referring people through @ tag) and more.

Some great features of Slack include:

1. Group conversations

Create channels (or more commonly called groups) within the team or with only a bunch of people specific to a task and communicate with them from anywhere at any time without having to be restricted to VPNs or emailing formalities. Add that personal touch through one-to-one private messages in case of sensitive matters. You can choose to create channels based on projects, teams or even a topic.

2. Share files

Get over traditional email attachments; drag-and-drop is the way to go with Slack. Just drag a document, screenshot or report in a group to share it with all participants instantly, without having to wait for them to check their email. You can even share presentations or videos through Slack and get immediate feedback and comments on it to start a discussion. Moreover, if you use services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box, just paste the link and that document is immediately in sync and searchable too.

3. Easy, extensive search

Slack makes searching for items easy. Just type in what you wish to search in the search box and whether it is a conversation, an item or a person, everything will be searched within milliseconds and you’ll see the results before you in a flash. Slack automatically indexes and archives stuff to make this possible.

4. Stay synced

If you frequently switch machines or platforms, you needn’t get into complications like exporting items or converting mailboxes. Slack being an online tool lets you stay in sync whether you work from your PC or your Smartphone so you can pick up exactly from where you left.

5. Custom notifications

Slack makes sure you never miss a thing or even be late in noticing. With custom notifications, you can make sure your phone or PC beeps every time you’re mentioned or an item is shared with you. Or if you prefer to not be disturbed, you can set that too.

6. Secure and safe

We’re sure that was the last item on your mind; well consider it checked too! All data within Slack is encrypted (256-bit AES and TLS 1.2) on the desktop or the phone. The makers perform security testing regularly to identify and resolve any loopholes so you can rest assured that your confidential data won’t be leaked online.
Aren’t you just dying to try it out?

slack1

So how does it work?

To start using Slack immediately just signup for free through the tool’s website. You’ll need to supply your email address, pick a name for the channel you wish to create, pick a URL, choose a username for yourself and you’re done!

Click on ‘Explore Slack’ and you’ll be directed to the main chat-share screen where you can get hands-on action done. You can start by inviting people to join Slack or join an existing team that you know of. Thereafter, create as many channels as you need to. All your channels and people in your network will be listed in a panel on the left hand side of the window. And if you get confused about things, there’s a handy helpful tutorial to help you out.

Drag-and-drop items from your PC or phone into the chat window’s text box to share instantly. If you want to browse through the files shared with you or that you’ve shared, click on a small 3-dot icon on the upper right corner of the window. This corner of the window also has a search box, an ‘@’ sign to search for conversations where you’ve been mentioned and a star icon indicating items that you’ve marked as favorite.

Pros VS Cons

In addition to the list of awesome features it has, the practical plus points of Slack include quick image transfer, no VPN requirement, availability in both forms – client installation as well as web tool, freedom to create as many channels as you want depending on the requirements of your team, notifications if someone on the team is online and lots and lots more. The best part of this tool is that its basic version is free for as long as you want; meaning you don’t have to pay a penny if you just wish to use its basic version. For standard, premium and enterprise (launching in 2015) versions however, you need to pay a nominal fee. But then you get a lot of additional features too so it’s a win-win deal.
The only con with this tool seems to be slight connection issues on some mobile networks or client machines. But this issue too seems to be temporary so you shouldn’t really be worried.

  • Get over emailing formalities. Make work and sharing simpler and informal with @SlackHQ slack.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Verdict

All-in-all, Slack is a great tool for collaborating with your team and inculcating a bit of informal, happy work environment setting. You actually don’t have anything to lose so try it out with a couple of teammates just for fun and experience it for yourself.

Usersnap – A Platform for Bug-free Online Projects

Are you employed online? Do you have your business online? Is your computer your God father? If so then all your web projects need Usersnap. A visual bug tracker for all your web projects.
Most of us don’t know, don’t realize that there might be glitches in the regular online methods we use and the glitches are nothing but software bugs. Usersnap is an excellent solution for a problem like this.

usersnap

How does it work?

Usersnap.com enables you to create bug reports and collect website feedback without complex feedback forms and endless emails. The Usersnap feedback widget adds in-page reporting to your web site and web project meaning you can co-relate the problems your users are facing and find the exact problem running through your page. The process not only gets simpler but gets smarter and efficient too. The only step you have to take is click on the button to send a bug report or give website feedback with an attached screenshot. No plugins required. It’s not only a generic approach to problem solving but it also allows you the functionality on every browser, even on mobile covering all interfaces.

The Usersnap dashboard is a unique feature that collects all bug reports and helps you to fix them faster whilst organizing your feedback & bug reports, easily. The dashboard has prominently three major features –The Viewer, Search and Team collaboration.

The Viewer

The viewer allows you to see the browser screenshot and every information you need to represent the issue: Meta Data, Comments, JS errors and more. You can access bug reports and browser screenshots with the Viewer with an exact visual glimpse of different issues and front-end bugs immediately. The Additional meta-information feature allows you to create website screenshots directly in your browser with the bug tracking and feedback widget. It also lets you assign bugs to your web developers in charge and discuss change requests in the Usersnap dashboard.

It is a wonder how a single feature in the dashboard provides you an easy-to-use toolkit for working on bug reports. With the zooming feature you can zoom in and out on every created browser screenshot. You can give feedback, or make a comment in whatever language you choose. The platform realizes that designers and developers or project managers are people with very different approaches; but still manages to put it all on one page. It also offers a great tool for customer support and helps you to understand your clients better creating clear communication.

No one can know your browser better, Viewer gets quicker access to the needed information to reproduce bugs faster while providing information about installed browser plugins and browser versions. It also helps you to view and solve browser-specific issues inside.

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The Search

Search – as the name suggests – helps you find and track for a certain prioritized information on immediate basis. Search makes it all simple by exactly giving you the required information, screenshot or any bug report in an instant. You can look up by name, date or issue definitely upgrading your web experience.

The Usersnap Search is more than just searching. It literally gives your memory a break by offering you different options – such as Labels, Assignees and Reporters – in order to access the needed information faster. The Meta information or certain filters – can be easily accessed. It’s a productive feature as it can look up info with the user’s name or members name who have created or tested those files. Just type in the tester’s name or scroll down to “reporter” and you can select one of your bug reporters and see all the files in similar concern. You can also type full text versions for example just type “Chrome” in the search and all screens will appear. You can even add labels to your full text search (label: bug) which have been reported with Chrome and they will all magically appear. Making hours of work done in seconds.

Team work is the spirit of every task, working with a team gives you more options suggestions and faster solutions, considering the same Usersnap allows you to invite your team members and co-workers to start working together on issues and front-end bugs. You can also assign bugs to your web developers in charge and discuss change requests directly in the Usersnap dashboard.

With the bug tracking management tool provided by Usersnap you can manage your bug tracking team and work together on solving bugs. You can give feedback, create browser screenshots or make a comment in whatever language you choose. The Usersnap dashboard is available 24/7 and functionality works for every team member, in every location; even the Moon. It’s user-friendly and gives your website testing team all the quality assurance it needs.

Super power for Web developers

Usersnap has a beautiful beneficial edge for web developers. It allows them to get visual bug reports with advanced client-side JavaScript error recording making their work extremely simple and reducing thousands of possible scenarios to one.

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XMLHttpRequest logging comes with every report, allowing your development team to know what actually happens when a user clicks on a button and it doesn’t work. It’s like giving your developers direct access to the Matrix. The feature also records JavaScript errors as they happen, along with a host of other information needed for super-faster bug reproduction and debugging. It is great to provide data as to which file and on which line the problem is along with even more information.
It also helps in recording user actions to submit with the bug report. In some cases the local time of the user is incorrect, so it’s harmonized with server time as well.

Website Interface

The interface is well laid out, visually attractive and very user friendly. There are familiar tools like highlight, pen, note etc. to help you to express yourself & provide feedback. The speed and function are not affected by the websites loading time. You can choose your look and themes as per your corporate identity. Custom made forms for easy information exchange.

  • Never ask for a screenshot again. Get it from the visual bug tracker @usersnap usersnap.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Pricing

Usersnap gives you 15 days free unlimited access, so you can take some time to find the best plan for you. There are three major plans starting at a minimum of $19, $49 and $99. The plans are focused on the no. of projects you are associated with for starters 1 Project with Dashboard and e-mail integration is available at $19 only. There are team and agency packages as well as per your use. Easy and affordable so start now.

Sticky notes, a pen, the pixel ruler will no longer be required as now everything is simple with Usersnap

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