ConceptShare: Online Design Collaboration Made Easy

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We’ve all been there: a typical task web-developers permanently have to deal with: how to communicate with clients in an effective and convenient way? How to make sure that the best compromise between designers’ professional decisions and clients’ personal interests is indeed found? The more organized and convenient you handle the communication issue, the more conflicts and additional work you can avoid.

The answer is actually quite simple: you need to listen to your clients, although you shouldn’t follow their wishes blindly. Clients don’t always know what they really want and even more often they don’t know, whether the changes they’d like to introduce are effective in some way. You also need to make sure that your clients are listening to you, which is why you also have to build up the trust and respect for your professionalism and your work.

To achieve both goals, you need to discuss your concepts, ideas and sketches in a simple, descriptive and convenient way. You also need to receive a precise feedback on what details your clients would like to change or improve, and – more importantly – why they’d like to do that. Sending screenshots via e-mail often causes conflicts and misunderstandings, particularly because clients can’t articulate directly and have to describe with words what they actually mean.

Good news: there is an effective all-in-one-solution which can make the communication process much easier. ConceptShare1 is an optimal web-based idea and design sharing and collaboration tool you can use for virtual workgroups with clients, customers and colleagues.

ConceptShare: Online Design Collaboration made easy

ConceptShare2

As a design collaboration tool ConceptShare3 can be used for a number of different tasks. For instance, for business card or idenitity design and review, logo design review, interactive and multimedia design, photo retouching and art direction, GUI design, architecture, retail packaging or industrial design. Advisory or focus groups can use this tool to view advertising concepts and accurately describe any changes, and allow others to see feedback and help select the best concept.

ConceptShare4

In the web design process clients can be involved in the design, quality assurance and selection process before a line of code is written. Screens can be uploaded by a designer and shared with the development team who can use tools such as the Eyedropper to get HEX colors or the Ruler tool which can be used to measure DIV areas for CSS. Users, clients and designers can comment upon different areas of the sketch; they can markup and indicate changes the same way they would with a printout.

ConceptShare5

ConceptShare6

The tool provides the so-called “workspaces” which are implemented in Flash. Workspace is a virtual online room that can contain multiple visuals related to a design project to be reviewed by others. Any site and design elements can be placed within a workspace – a website layout, logo, video, sketch or a marketing-campaign – whatever.

Once this data – whether html-pages or graphics – is uploaded by the designer, members of the workspace can review and comment upon it. ConceptShare allows you to have a number of workspaces. Each of them can have its own set of designs, members, roles as well as their own chat room. Members can choose to be notified via e-mail when new visuals are awaiting their review. “Outside” members see only the workspaces they belong to.

Screenshot7
File-management and members of a workspace. You can click on the image for a higher resolution (600 kb)

Additional tools are supposed to help designers to apply the changes immediately on the sketch – online; for instance, you can use also some visual markup (draw, crop, erase) and present them to your clients immediately. All sketches can be zoomed and a real-time-chat is supposed to enable design discussions online.

Screenshot8
A part of the Workspace (top right)

You can also use a console to get an access to all changes which have been made since the sketch was uploaded. The history is stored permanently and it includes the information about new comments, uploads and members. The desktop is well thought-out and keeps the amount of tools to a minimum. A full screen mode is supposed to give workspace members an optimal view of the designs.

Conceptshare is a hosted service. Nothing has to be installed, the tool is loaded in the browser – of course, if Flash is supported. This has a particular advantage – using Flash, you can be sure that both clients and designers are talking about the same issue – even if they don’t use the same operating system, the same browser and the same screen resolution.

Screenshot9
Ruler and options

Conceptshare10 allows you a personal branding with your own name, colors, subdomain and logo when you subscribe or upgrade to the business package. Prices range between 19$,- and 199$,- per month. This depends on how many projects you’d like to manage, how many workspaces you’d like to be able to create and how much storage you need. You can also use a free trial version with 1 account manager, 1 project and 5 Mb storage.

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://conceptshare.com/
  2. 2 http://conceptshare.com/
  3. 3 http://www.conceptshare.com/
  4. 4 http://conceptshare.com/
  5. 5 http://conceptshare.com/
  6. 6 http://conceptshare.com/
  7. 7 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/images/conceptshare.png
  8. 8 http://www.conceptshare.com/
  9. 9 http://www.conceptshare.com/
  10. 10 http://www.conceptshare.com/

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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  1. 1

    nice tool..I think we should give it a try..

  2. 2

    Exactly what I was looking for.

  3. 3

    You shoulda posted this yesterday, *BEFORE* I started writing my own custom version of a thing like this…

  4. 4

    looks like an excellent tool, one i shall investigate!

  5. 5

    It’s very good, but I like to talk to my clients on im’s or even face to face if possible, otherwise, tools like this make the work and communication much easier.

  6. 6

    I love ConceptShare. I’ve written about it often and think it’s just excellently executed. Also, the CS boys (Bernie, Scott, Chris) are just swell.

  7. 7

    WOW! This looks so awesome. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. 8

    Hmmm, disappointed in you smashing magazine!! Ive never ever posted a negative comment before now because you guys are amazing at what you do! but. . .

    When doing a feature for a sponsor you should say!! There are a few web apps that do the same kind of thing and to be balanced you should have featured a few. At its most basic file maker, who started this whole concept!!

    i know you guys have to pay the bills, so keep up the good work!

  9. 9

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    August 31, 2007 6:33 pm

    wez, we would never offer you a “sponsored” content. We have beeing using the tool for several weeks now and it is definitely one of the tools we would recommend to our users. Taskee is another tool you can use for design collaboration and usability testing, but it isn’t that powerful.

    You are talking about “few web apps that do the same kind of thing”. Could you point us to some of them?

    • 10

      The premise of the article is that it’s collaboration made easy, not ‘powerful’ collaboration.

      And frankly there are far easier options out there, Cage App to name one. ConceptShare is the most comprehensive, not the simplest to use.

      TBH I call BS, this is obviously a sponsored post; as wez says though, no harm in it, just polite to say!

  10. 11

    This looks great to use with other developers and some of my clients, but other clients that aren’t so computer savvy would be confused. I suspect it would create extra work just explaining how to use Concept Share to them.

  11. 12

    uhm… this could help

  12. 13

    Great tool, but a little expensive to freelance designers

  13. 14

    Oscar Guindzberg

    March 8, 2009 8:00 pm

    We just lunched a service that competes with ConceptShare.
    The main difference is Creationflow also offers project management features.

    You can sign for a free trial on http://www.creationflow.com

  14. 15

    We have recently launched an online application similar to this called colaab – colaab, which offers design collaboration in real-time.

    Thanks,

    Bob

  15. 16

    You can’t beat conceptshare’s collaborations features, but it was a bit overkill for my freelance business and clients.

    I have been using Link for both storage and collaboration. It is kinda like a combination of visual ftp and conceptshare.

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