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“Visual collaboration”. Sounds like serious business, doesn’t it?

But it doesn’t have to be.

Online collaboration tools are no longer reserved for programmers 8 of the Best Free Collaborative Tools For Programmers 8 of the Best Free Collaborative Tools For Programmers If you're a programmer and you aren't yet sharing or collaborating, you're behind the curve. Reap the benefits of collaboration with the right web apps. Read More and designers. As more and more people choose to work from home, apps catering to all types of users are now in the spotlight. Some of them don’t even require sign-up 10+ No-Signup Collaboration Tools You Can Use in 10 Seconds 10+ No-Signup Collaboration Tools You Can Use in 10 Seconds Collaborating online can save you and your team both time and money. Collaborating quickly can save a bit more. These tools are ready to go when you are. No registration required. Read More , so you and your peers can jump into visual collaboration immediately — and for free.

You can participate in collaborative writing How Collaborative Writing Tools Make Your Life Easier How Collaborative Writing Tools Make Your Life Easier Thanks to the Internet, collaborating on a writing project should be a breeze. If you have ever co-produced one, you know this can be difficult. It shouldn't be with the right tool. Read More activities, plan a vacation together, collect ideas for a birthday party, or work on a school project. Certain tools are more suited for planning and brainstorming than others, which is why we’ve collected a sampling of websites for various purposes. Take a look at our suggestions, pick your favorites, and start collaborating!

Netboard.me (Free)

Platforms: Web, Chrome, Firefox

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Netboard is much like your personal Pinterest, but with a twist: you can make it into anything you want. Use it as a website, turn it into a portfolio, or write blog posts—Netboard puts no limits on your creativity. Unlimited is also the amount of boards you can create.

Each board can have a different layout, and you can organize your posts into tabs. New content is added either by inserting links or by uploading local files. It’s also possible to import videos from a number of services (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Twitch…) including Google Docs, and create new posts via browser extensions.

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You’ll need to register to use Netboard, but there’s a demo page you can play with. Once you have an account, you can modify the theme (change colors and fonts), follow other users, and upvote their boards.

How you can collaborate?

Your boards can be private or public, and the latter can be shared with anyone by simply linking to it. However, if you want other users to modify and add content to your boards, you have to give them co-authoring access. Netboard.me is best suited for activities that require content curation and collection Top Tools for Curating Knowledge & Publishing Shareable Content Top Tools for Curating Knowledge & Publishing Shareable Content Content curation can enhance your professional reputation. For many people it's still a mystery. So, what is content curation and how can you do it properly? Read More , such as gathering visual inspiration for a wedding or compiling research sources.

You might also like: Marqueed (our Marqueed review Marqueed: Share Images as Collections to Collaborate With Others Marqueed: Share Images as Collections to Collaborate With Others Read More )

Design Drop (Free)

Platforms: Web

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Design Drop is drop-dead simple, and its purpose is to help you get feedback on visual content, whether it’s photography, sketches, or website mockups. You can try out Design Drop before creating a profile. Currently it accepts PNG and JPG files up to 20 MB in size.

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How you can collaborate?

Upload a file, then share the link or send an email invitation to your colleagues. They will be able to annotate your work, draw directly on the uploaded image(s), and write comments which will appear in the sidebar. The ability to comment on selected parts of an image makes Design Drop perfect for building website designs together, as everyone can quickly chime in with their ideas.

You might also like: Notism.io

Ziteboard (Free, Pro $12 per user/month)

Platforms: Web, Chrome

Ziteboard works on the principle of a shared whiteboard. Although it requires an account, you can test Ziteboard before you sign up. The free version lets you create three boards, and you can only use three colors to emphasize your content. If you want to highlight text, fill shapes with more than three colors, create unlimited boards, and get rid of Ziteboard branding, you’ll have to pay $12 per user per month.

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Still, the free version should be enough for a small team, especially if you don’t need multiple boards at once. A cool thing about Ziteboard is that it can recognize the shape you’re trying to draw, so if your hands are shaky, it will “autocomplete” circles and squares for you. Apart from sketching, you can use it to draw over photos or type textual comments on the board.

How you can collaborate?

Create a board and choose the “Publish to Web” option to get a link to share with your teammates. You can either give them read-only access, or if you want them to participate in brainstorming, choose the “Live Teamwork” option. Ziteboard is great for explaining concepts and online tutoring, and you can also use it to draw mind maps and diagrams 8 Diagramming Apps for Better Brainstorming on the Go 8 Diagramming Apps for Better Brainstorming on the Go Life can be busy and chaotic. These mind mapping and brainstorming apps can help you keep track of your inspirations and ideas for a better thought process. All just a screen tap away. Read More .

You might also like: Realtimeboard (Our Realtimeboard review RealtimeBoard: Easy-to-Use Browser-Based White Board RealtimeBoard: Easy-to-Use Browser-Based White Board Read More )

Flockmod (Free)

Platforms: Web, Windows

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Simply put, Flockmod is an online collaborative drawing The Google Docs Drawing Tool Makes Collaborative Drawing Easier The Google Docs Drawing Tool Makes Collaborative Drawing Easier Read More app. There’s a Windows-only desktop version, but it’s more convenient to run it in the browser, especially if you plan to work with Linux or OS X users. Flockmod doesn’t require an account, but you should create one if you want to register a permanent URL for your drawing board.

These boards are officially called “rooms” on Flockmod, and each room comes furnished with a drop-down chat area and a bunch of drawing tools. From layers, text, and various shapes to color management and brushes, Flockmod has it all. If you’ve ever used an online photo editing Don't Install An Image Editor: Try These Cloud-Based Photo Editors Instead Don't Install An Image Editor: Try These Cloud-Based Photo Editors Instead If you want to get really good results, you need to download some kind of graphics software or other editing app, and put it through its paces. But now, you can do most of your... Read More tool, you’ll be instantly familiar with Flockmod.

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How you can collaborate?

Create a room and give the link to your friends. When they join Flockmod, their names will show up in the user list. You can interact via chat, save finished drawings, and share them on social media. The beauty of Flockmod is that you can use it for many different things: as a whiteboard, for brainstorming, or just to doodle silly comics together. The chat feature makes it particularly practical for exchanging feedback and ideas in real-time.

You might also like: WhiteboardFox

MindSky (Free)

Platforms: Web, Chrome, Android

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Although you can use MindSky in many different ways (for example, as a blog or a website), its main goal is to be a free Evernote alternative Time To Ditch Evernote? Letterspace & Fetch Are Compelling Alternatives Time To Ditch Evernote? Letterspace & Fetch Are Compelling Alternatives If you're looking for a supplement or an alternative to Evernote, let me — a notebook junkie — suggest Letterspace or Fetchnotes for pure simplicity and ease of use. Read More of sorts. You use it to collect various items—articles and snippets from the Web, to-do lists, reminders, sketches, notes, YouTube videos, audio files—that you can later organize into pages.

However, MindSky is best used as a mind-mapping tool Memofon: Easily Create Online Mind Maps Through Textual Notes Memofon: Easily Create Online Mind Maps Through Textual Notes Read More thanks to its free-form interface that lets you rearrange items in any way you please. Your notes can be encrypted and geotagged, and there’s also a general tagging system in place to make categorization and searching easier.

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How you can collaborate?

Sign up and add some items to your MindSky. The people you collaborate with also have to create accounts, and you can give them read-only or full editing access. As I already mentioned, MindSky is fantastic for mind maps, but you can use it to visually plan group projects, share tasks, and collect online resources that you can annotate together.

You might also like: Mindmeister (featured on MUO 8 Free Mind Map Tools & How to Best Use Them 8 Free Mind Map Tools & How to Best Use Them For an office worker, a mind map can be a solo brainstorming tool or a collaborative idea collection. In the right hands, a simple mind map can help make better decisions. Read More )

Codesign (Free, Pro $15 or $25/month)

Platforms: Web

Codesign is a time-saver with a simple yet attractive interface. The premise is simple, too — you share a screenshot, a mockup, or any visual content you’re working on, and your peers comment on it by clicking and annotating particular parts of the image. Their suggestions can be turned into tasks, which you can tick off to mark conversation threads as complete. The images you upload are organized into folders, and each folder can have a custom name and a few descriptive tags.

The free plan allows only one active folder; if you want five, purchase the Team upgrade for $15 per month, or the Studio plan for $25 that gives you ten active folders.

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How you can collaborate?

Get an account (or log in with your Google, Facebook, or Github credentials). Create folders and upload images, then generate links for your coworkers. If you want them to edit folders and add their own images, give them full access; otherwise they’ll only be able to participate in discussions.

Codesign is suitable for quick, precise visual feedback on anything you’re working on. Screenshot your resume, upload a floor plan, or share several versions of a logo design. Codesign is also great for getting feedback from clients 8 Free Tools to Work & Collaborate Online from Your Home 8 Free Tools to Work & Collaborate Online from Your Home Working from home can be a convenient setup, thanks to its flexibility. But online collaboration with clients and teams can quickly become complicated and stressful. We show you free tools to build a reliable workflow. Read More , as they can clearly point out which elements of your product they like or dislike.

You might also like: Coggle.it

MapMe (Free)

Platforms: Web

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You’ve found tools for creating mind maps, but what about mapping the real world How You Could Make Your Own Google Maps Using A Drone How You Could Make Your Own Google Maps Using A Drone A new piece of software, combined with improved drone technology, means mapping with a drone is already cheaper than you may think. Read More ? This is where MapMe steps in. You can use it to mark important and interesting places around the Earth with custom icons, colors, and tags. Places can be categorized, and each one has its own page where you can write more information and details. Of course, you can make and manage multiple maps, embed them on other websites, and even add your branding and logos to every map.

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How you can collaborate?

Create an account and start building your first map. Make sure to enable “Crowdsourcing” and “Tag Suggestions” options to let other users add information to the map. All changes have to be approved by you. You can also update others via email about the latest changes to your maps. MapMe shines in activities like vacation planning Plan Future Vacations With These Pinterest-Style Websites For Locations Plan Future Vacations With These Pinterest-Style Websites For Locations Pinterest has inspired many websites to adopt its look and feel. Pinterest-for-location is a genre all of its own, populated by beautifully designed travel websites. Head towards five of the best. Read More or moving to a new city, but it’s also useful for anyone working in travel and tourism-related industries. It can even be used as a teaching tool.

You might also like: Wikia Maps

Conjure.io (Free while in beta)

Platforms: Web

Conjure could be described as a lightweight alternative to Pixelapse and similar tools Simplify Your Design Workflow With These 6 Collaboration Tools Simplify Your Design Workflow With These 6 Collaboration Tools Iterating through designs is a time-consuming process. These collaboration tools will help ease up those bottlenecks and get your work done in record time. Read More . The focus is on the feedback and the ability to track changes to your files, which is why version control and activity feed are among the strongest features of Conjure.

Apart from popular image file formats (JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD, EPS, SVG…), Conjure also supports Word documents, presentations and PDF files. You can organize files into groups, edit them in bulk, and download everything at once thanks to Archive and Export options.

visual-collaboration-conjure2

How you can collaborate?

Register an account and upload materials for your first project. You can invite others via email and give them guest access. They can leave feedback on your projects by directly selecting parts of a file and commenting on them. However, if you want them to upload files and manage projects, you’ll have to add them as users, which will cost you $10 per user per month once Conjure is out of the beta stage.

This practical app is great for collaborating on web design and development, or for any other creative process that requires quick decisions on file modifications and choosing between multiple file versions.

You might also like: Dropmark (our Dropmark review Dropmark - The Easiest Way To Share Files And Collaborate With Anyone [Web & Mac] Dropmark - The Easiest Way To Share Files And Collaborate With Anyone [Web & Mac] How do you typically collaborate with others on projects? By email? Or do you try to get everyone to sign up for the latest cloud file sharing service that you use? Neither of those options... Read More )

Feedbag.io (Free)

Platforms: Web

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Feedbag is similar to Conjure, but it’s even more lightweight; you could say it’s minimalist. This is good news for users who don’t want to spend too much time learning to use a new tool. Simply upload files in currently supported formats (JPG, GIF, PDF, PNG, PSD, AI), sort them by drag-and-dropping, and share the link with your friends. You can check out the demo to see what it looks like.

Feedbag will keep your uploaded files for 28 days and warn you about their impending deletion after 21 days. Obviously, this makes Feedbag unsuitable for big, long-term projects, but it’s enough if you want some room redecoration feedback from your friends.

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How you can collaborate?

Upload files to Feedbag and share the link with your collaborators. They can leave feedback by clicking on any part of the image and typing their comments. An email address is required so that Feedbag can notify the participants about new comments. Feedbag is best for temporary, on-the-fly activities like getting a last-minute review of a cover letter, but you can also use it for spontaneous brainstorming How to Brainstorm the Right Way with Simple Mood Boards How to Brainstorm the Right Way with Simple Mood Boards A beautiful mood board is one of the best tools for visual brainstorming. Use this brief guide to convey your ideas or just try solo brainstorming with a collage of inspiring images. Read More , app and website mockups, or when you need help deciding which Instagram filter to use for that selfie.

You might also like: ProofMini

Stormboard (Free, Pro $5 or $10 per user/month)

Platforms: Web

If you combined several tools from this list, you’d get Stormboard. It’s a versatile app that facilitates constructive brainstorming sessions. Your ideas can be organized into Storms and presented as sticky notes, sketches, images, or even videos. Other users can comment and vote on them, draw directly on top of uploaded images, and contribute their own ideas. The free version lets you create unlimited Storms, but only with up to five users per Storm.

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How you can collaborate?

After creating an account and your first Storm, you have to invite others, and they will need to register, too. Your Storms will only be visible to invited users, and they will be notified of changes via email. Stormboard is suitable for group planning 5 Insanely Useful Collaboration Tools Your Team Needs to Know About 5 Insanely Useful Collaboration Tools Your Team Needs to Know About Many people are stuck using the email-and-collect-revisions method of collaboration. Today Cool Websites and Apps looks at five tools that fix that for you. Read More , whether it’s an office Christmas party or the launch of a new app.

Newsrooms and bloggers can also use it to discuss article ideas and pitches. However, it’s quite limited by the amount of people you can invite in the free version, so it might not be the best solution for large teams and companies.

You might also like: Symphonical (Our Symphonical review Symphonical: Collaborate With People In Real Time On A Wall With Sticky Notes Symphonical: Collaborate With People In Real Time On A Wall With Sticky Notes Read More )

Visual Collaboration Is for Everyone

As you’ve seen, visual collaboration isn’t just strictly business. Most tools on this list are simple enough for your parents to understand, so you can use them to plan family events and discuss holiday ideas, especially if you live far away from them. Explaining things visually is much easier (and probably cheaper) than endless phone conversations and email chains that veer off-topic.

Of course, there are plenty more tools for visual collaboration, and we’d like to hear about them from you.

What do you use to share your ideas and get feedback? Have you used any tools from this list, and did you like them? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Steve
    August 9, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Great article Ivana! Love this list. Have you checked out Blrt (www.blrt.com) ? Awesome tool for online visual collaboration that myself and my team have been using for a number of months. It allows you to talk, point and draw over images, documents and web projects and send them as a video like recording for your team to view and respond to in their own time :)

  2. Károly Németh
    December 23, 2015 at 1:21 am

    I used Trello for suggestion for developing (and tracking their status) at my last workplace. This is a really multiplatform tool. There is web, Android and iOS version.

  3. Yodi Collins
    December 22, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I've been on Pearltrees since 2013, when I discovered the app (bloatware) on my newly-received Android tablet. I have essentially archived everything I've ever found to be significant on the web to that thing. The site is transparent by design unless you sign up for premium. Then your bookmarks can be private.

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