Reg Tait Hull Web Designer[ + Menu]


What do designers want from collaboration software?

(Answer—The same stuff designers always need.)

Microsoft Teams has made a big splash since its launch in March 2017. It’s set to be the second biggest workplace chat app by 2020. It’s a mix of group chat, notes and file sharing. Channels and groups mean the software can be useful for managing projects—like the offspring of Basecamp and Slack.

I’ve used Teams a little throughout 2018. It’s fast and responsive, with a simple interface. It’s perhaps a little unwieldy with a dozen or more teams—confusing name—on the go, but I reckon Microsoft will address that as adoption grows. It’s promising.

Is it useful? Well, as a designer, here’s what I need and want.

  • Design brief — What problem are we solving? Constraints, timelines, scope and deliverables
  • Background info — reports and other reference materials
  • Assets — Everything else. For example, branding assets, style guides, website copy and images. What’s missing and what needs to be produced?

From effective collaboration, I need all that stored in a convenient and secure location. All version controlled. In an environment that encourages discussion. Teams can do that.

The chat feature in Teams is great—but people only have so many hours in the day for focussed work. Half an hour chatting is the same amount of time not spent doing something else.

Generating specs is hard, regardless of the tooling. It’s often the role of the designer to take control of this stuff, and create it. It’s process. But users of all flavours can be drawn into taking easier options for something that looks and feels like work—a sort of subconscious plausible deniability.

I hope that Teams can provide a way of guiding time and attention in a way that best serves the intention of the project.

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