Millions of enterprises, medium-sized businesses, small businesses, and startups around the world have been forced to switch to remote work for their employees because of the Coronavirus pandemic that is disrupting our current way of life. Since the move isn’t an optional one for most companies, large numbers of them aren’t ready to handle such a scenario. One of the reasons for this is the lack of awareness around the proper tools required to be fully functional in a work-from-home environment.
For that reason, we’ve curated a list of top 10 productivity tools for remote work, and this particular list is specifically aimed at web design teams working from the safety of their homes. What are the best tools to get the job done? What software applications are essential for efficient web design workflow management? And how do these tools help boost productivity in the web design arena? These are the questions we hope to answer in this piece.
#1: PDFelement Pro – Comprehensive PDF and Document Management System
This award-winning PDF editor should be one of the first tools for your web design needs. PDFs are universally accepted as the best format to share creative work because the layouts, fonts, images, and other content remain intact no matter what device you view it on. That’s why a PDF tool is a must-have in this instance. Whether it’s for sharing mockups, reviewing, commenting, and marking-up documents for other collaborators on the project, PDFelement Pro offers the tools needed to handle remote design workflows across multiple locations. What makes it truly collaborative is the fact that it lets you access cloud-based content from popular services like Box, G Suite, and Dropbox.
Why PDFelement Pro for Web Designers Doing Remote Work?
Web design work is typically executed on purpose-built apps like Adobe Dreamweaver or WordPress. However, the HTML output doesn’t allow for much manipulation for reviewers of that output or other stakeholders in the project. Therefore, it is better to export the data as a PDF document so it can be easily shared, edited, and commented on without altering the original data. This modified PDF can then go back to the designer as a starting point for changes, additions, corrections, and so on. There is no other file format in the world that is as flexible as PDF, but you need the right tool to handle these PDF documents.
If you want your web designers to have the best communication tool possible, PDFelement Pro is the right choice. Not only is it flexible enough to handle small and large web design workloads, but it also comes with a slick and user-friendly UI or user interface. That means virtually no learning curve, hundreds of training manhours saved for large teams. It can also be deployed to remote machines from a central location, with a robust user management module to monitor and manage globally distributed teams. With the introduction of a reimagined UI and a more powerful conversion engine, the new PDFelement 7 Pro can tremendously improve a web design team’s productivity, efficiency, and throughput.
Collaborative work, whether in a remote work scenario or for a team working in the same location, requires the right communication tools for stakeholders to discuss various stages of a web design project. Though labeled as a webinar application, ClickMeeting is essentially a web conferencing application with a load of useful tools for collaboration.
What ClickMeeting brings to the table is a comprehensive communication platform for video conference calls, file sharing, screen sharing, and other useful features for web design professionals. It can be used for online training, group video calls, chat messaging during a meeting, and various other purposes.
One of the best productivity aspects of ClickMeeting is its ability to accommodate 1000+ participants, so there’s virtually no limit on how many people can attend a call.
Why ClickMeeting for Web Designer Productivity?
The most compelling reason to use ClickMeeting is that it is a flexible tool for scheduling and hosting web conferences across multiple geographical locations. Participants can share their screens and files, chat with collaborators and team members, present their web designs for real-time review, and more. It works well with low-speed Internet connections, you can have breakaway meetings after the main conference, and you can even live-stream to YouTube or Facebook, allowing you to reach a large and widely dispersed audience.
Web design projects usually have to go through several stages of approval before a particular design is finalized for implementation. This requires several stakeholders to sign off on the various stages, and SignX allows you to add legally valid e-signatures to a variety of document types.
SignX is essentially a digital signature platform that gives you full control over document workflows, whether it’s for web design or other purposes. With this tool in hand, you won’t need to worry about physically sending documents for signatures from multiple parties. The secure online sharing features allow you to monitor everything from an admin dashboard, making collaboration a simpler affair than ever before.
Why SignX for Remote Work?
SignX offers powerful collaborative features like user management, bulk sending, templates that are reusable, signature tracking, etc., all of which are designed to help remote teams collaborate in a seamless and highly productive manner.
The ubiquitous WordPress is every web designer’s go-to application for developing stunning websites. There are other tools like Adobe Dreamweaver and such, but the plug-and-play template-based system allows you to borrow from virtually unlimited repositories of free themes and paid themes that you can further customize with your own branding elements such as logos, etc.
WordPress also offers a huge bank of plug-ins that extend its functionality. As a simple example, if you need to export your WordPress HTML web page as a PDF document for other collaborators to review, comment on, and provide feedback for, all you need to do is download and enabled an export tool for the job.
This open-source utility allows administrators to control user access to published and draft web pages in a granular manner. You can assign specific sets of permissions for collaborators based on their role, and you can easily monitor who’s making what changes to a particular post or page. That’s one of the main reasons it is recommended as a productivity booster for web design professionals.
Read More: 5 Advantages of WordPress
#5: Adobe Photoshop
Another must-have tool for web designer productivity is Adobe Photoshop. For visually rich web content, there’s no better tool than this. It is an excellent utility to create wireframes and design mockups for websites because of the level of control you have over the various elements of your creative work.
This premium tool makes it possible to quickly and painlessly import components for your final design, edit them anyway you want, change layouts, alignment, texturing, and numerous other tasks.
Most web designers are already familiar with Photoshop in one form or another. Even if you’re company typically uses other web design tools, it’s relatively easy to migrate them to Adobe Photoshop for remote work. The introduction of CC, or Creative Cloud, makes collaboration on UI design that much easier, boosting your web design team’s productivity by orders of magnitude.
Another great tool for web designer productivity enhancement is Figma, a design program intended to allow real-time collaboration by multiple designers. According to professional reviewers, the software offers a gentle learning curve, which is essential when transitioning from one utility to another. What makes it truly appealing as a remote work application is that it is web-based but also offers OS-specific installation.
Figma also makes it easier to design web pages for different device types, ensuring that your published content is responsive and that your content is disseminated to various platforms in the appropriate manner.
Figma for Remote Web Design Work – Why?
The main USP of Figma is that it is a cross-platform utility, unlike its rival, Sketch, which is basically a Mac application. That means no matter what operating systems your web design team members are using at home, Figma will support it. The added web interface for real-time collaboration makes it even more attractive as a remote work software application for small and large web design teams.
Although this free web design application is often compared to Adobe Photoshop, it doesn’t have as many granular features as the latter. Nonetheless, if you’re bootstrapping your projects and don’t have the budget to deploy Photoshop for all your web designers, this is the perfect tool.
GIMP is an excellent image-based utility that allows you to create stunning web page designs, templates, mockups, and other artwork. The interface is fairly user-friendly so, even if you don’t have a lot of experience working with this program, it’s not hard to learn to use. Moreover, as an open-source image editor with a large community of users, GIMP gives you access to a whole range of third-party plugins and tools.
Why GIMP is Great for Work-from-Home (WFH) Web Designers
The strongest selling point for GIMP is that it can be deployed on the cloud, on platforms like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure. This makes it universally accessible and device-agnostic, which helps avoid compatibility and other issues no matter where your teams or team members are physically located.
#8: Google Web Designer
Google Web Designer is another utility that is well-integrated with cloud platforms, and the main advantage is that it meshes well with other Google applications. It is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, and offers options to work offline (locally), on the cloud (G Suite integration), or in a remote server.
In essence, Google Web Designer is a front-end web design application that lets you edit code directly, even giving you the option of toggling between Code and Design views so you know what your web page looks like visually as well as the code level.
Why Google Web Designer for Remote Collaboration?
One of its most compelling features is the deep integration with the rest of the Google ecosystem of tools that come with a G Suite account. As such, the cloud component will play a great part in making collaboration easier, thereby dramatically improving the productivity of your remotely working web design team.
#9: Office 365 – Ubiquitous Cloud-based Office Productivity Suite
Although not strictly a web design utility, Office 365 makes it possible to move your entire workflow to the cloud. This facilitates better collaboration through the use of communications tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Microsoft Office tools, Outlook, and so on.
The key component here is the cloud environment. Although it doesn’t offer real-time collaboration like Google’s G Suite, the integration with Microsoft’s OneDrive offers a common platform for multiple users from different locations to work on the same project.
The Case for Office 365 in the Remote Work Scenario
Collaborative work always requires a robust platform where files can be shared, team members can talk to each other, and so on. An Office 365 subscription not only gives you such a collaborative environment but it also provides the tools necessary for documentation, presentations, reporting, and other backend stuff that web designers are required to do based on their role definition.
In many cases, a web design workflow doesn’t require sending an entire document or web page for review. If you only need to send a simple screenshot with notes and other annotations, a screengrab tool like Snagit is extremely helpful. Although Mac and Windows do have their own screenshot tools, they’re not as effective and they don’t offer much flexibility, such as taking a screengrab of an entire web page or being able to selectively capture screenshots.
How Snagit Can Help Web Designers Be More Productive?
One of the key features of Snagit that makes it a must-have tool for designers is the ability to share your screenshots from within the software. There are options to share screencast links, send to Google Drive, upload to FTP, save to Evernote, and several other mediums. These features allow easy sharing between collaborators, making SnagIt, and similar tools an essential part of the design workflow.
Read More: A Complete Guide To Microsoft Office
There are numerous tools specific to web design that will tremendously boost your productivity whether you’re working in the same location or remotely from home. The key to choosing the right tools requires you to ask yourself several important questions, such as whether a tool is easy to learn to use, how effectively it can close the distance between team members, how flexible it is for your specific requirements, and so on. Answering these questions will help you narrow down your list to the most productivity-enhancing web design tools possible.