5 Lessons We Learned on How the World Collaborates on Digital Content

Over the last year, we’ve seen thousands of teams collaborate on their digital projects inside of MarkUp.

These are design, product, marketing, and sales teams in addition to countless others who are looking for easier ways to work together remotely. Through hundreds of conversations with our users, we identified five core themes that efficient teams have in their collaborative process. But before we dive in, let’s first take a look at what leads up to the point of collaboration.

You are a web designer, developer, or product lead. You are a marketing or sales professional, or any other role in which delivering or presenting digital content is a crucial part of your day-to-day. Your team has just built the perfect landing page, sales collateral, or marketing material for your customer base or prospects. This is going to get shared internally in front of your company or externally in a LinkedIn ad or live demo. Before setting that content live, your entire team and possibly C-level execs need to get eyes on it. Wherever you’re reviewing and leaving comments on that content (we’re biased but MarkUp is a great place for that!), here are five lessons that some of the best teams in the world have said are important to keep in mind:

Establish Project Roles

At MarkUp we see three main roles across digital collaboration projects. There are 1) Creators, 2) Collaborators, and 3) Reviewers. The Creator is responsible for setting up the project and establishing roles for the rest of the team. This can be easily done via open communication in Slack, Microsoft Teams or email. 

Depending on your project, certain platforms like Figma and Miro allow you to establish these roles once you’ve upgraded your account.

Collaborators are the people you want to access your content and make edits or comments. Reviewers will typically be in charge of resolving comments across the entire project or approving them in some fashion. Be sure that roles are clearly established across the project as this lays the groundwork for the rest of your efforts.

At MarkUp, Creators typically like to share project links with many collaborators, letting them tackle commenting. At final sign-off, Creators will either assume the role of Reviewer themselves (if you’re an agency this works well) or escalate the project to a VP or executive level to pop in for final review, which brings us to our second point.

Guest Access Is Key

One thing we’ve learned time and again from teams who want to get people in projects quickly is that guest access is a must. Just as establishing roles is important, it’s important to also know who should be a guest vs who needs full access to the software your team is using. As we’ve mentioned, maybe your content will ultimately need the eyes of a VP. Teams don’t want to force those users to sign up for another software product. Letting them join as guests lets you get the feedback you need in a seamless, frictionless way. For other users, perhaps you want them to have consistent access to their own projects and workspaces. Make sure that wherever you decide to collaborate that guest access or signing up in full is simple. It’s one of the features we’re most proud of at MarkUp.

Agile vs Waterfall Process

Beyond roles, it’s crucial to establish your workflow for reviewing content. We typically see teams divide into two camps: agile vs waterfall. 

With agile, they typically use one project from start to scratch inside of MarkUp. Teams upload their landing page, website, or image and send it out to stakeholders for feedback. As comments come in, the project creator and/or the design team makes changes to that content which updates inside of MarkUp in real-time. All comments are stored in a running tally of amends and the entire team can see what has been updated over time. The real-time engine between building and editing content inside of Ceros (other design tools are available too) and collaborating in MarkUp is a thing of beauty. No matter where you’re creating content and collaborating, agile can be super effective as long as all comments are properly seen and stored throughout the project lifecycle.

The waterfall approach works for teams that want to keep versions of each project separate. We’ll see teams establish a number of “review rounds” and create copies of their content (living inside their CMS or a platform like Ceros) after each round. All new comments for each round are applied to the newly created copy of content and a new MarkUp project is created. MarkUp keeps each project unique and separates comments from each round, giving the team clear visibility into how each round fares and how many comments pertained to each revision. 

Both approaches are great, it just depends on your team structure, timeline, and the number of stakeholders involved.

Establish Task Management

Collaboration platforms like MarkUp keep all tasks in one centralized place, though some teams prefer to tie comments back to their project management software. This should be communicated upfront with how you want to organize final sign-offs for content reviews. MarkUp allows you to resolve all comments and have them serve as proof of completion. However, JIRA, Asana, ClickUp, Trello, and Monday.com are some of the most popular platforms where users will look to create tickets based on MarkUp comments. Wherever you collaborate, be sure to identify where the final sign-off will ultimately take place.

Build the Collaboration Muscle

We’ve received quite a few messages in the last year from users saying “where have you been all my life!”. Teams who previously never thought twice about collaborating online are now doing it every day. The consistent theme we’re hearing from them: you have to build the muscle and you’ll never look back.

Change is hard. While digital transformation is probably an overused term at this point, it’s here to stay and it’s important to establish new and better ways of collaborating with your team and external stakeholders. Build your organization’s collaboration muscle as soon as possible. Be consistent in your approach. Trust us, no amount of feedback kept inside of spreadsheets and email chains is going to make you happier or more productive. The better you nail your process now, the faster your feedback loops, and the more prolific your content.

Happy collaborating all!