13 design collaboration tools for a productive creative workflow

Imagine waking up in a world where you didn’t have to worry about email feedback or your design files being too big to attach to an email or send over Slack.

In this new world, you can simply ask colleagues for their opinion by sharing a link. The feedback is easy to understand. What’s more, you can exchange design files as is, work in the same design file as someone halfway around the world, and more.

The key to this magical alternate universe?

Design collaboration tools. We’ll tell you all about them in a jiffy.

GIF Source: Giphy

Table of Contents

What’s a design collaboration tool?

Let’s begin with a moment of silence for all the hours you’ve likely lost trying to add visual context to feedback. 🫡

It’s next to impossible to give accurate feedback on visual media when you can’t comment directly on it.

With design collaboration tools, those headaches will be a thing of the past. These software solutions are developed to help design teams collaboratively create, share, and review web and graphic design. 

Design collaboration tools streamline creative professionals’ workflows and involve multiple team members in different project stages — from brainstorming design ideas to publishing the final deliverable.

Why use design collaboration tools?

These design tools help designers:

  • Stay in sync with their peers
  • Ensure visual consistency
  • Simplify reviews
  • Minimize feedback loops 
  • Get on the same page as clients
  • Boost productivity
  • Collaborate with team members more efficiently

You can reap these benefits with the help of three types of design tools, which we get into below.

3 types of design collaboration tools

Whether you’re in the office or working remotely, design collaboration tools are for everybody. Let’s get deeper into the top three most common tool types.

Type #1: Design collaboration tools for collecting feedback

Imagine you sent a deliverable to your team for review by email. Soon, you’re receiving their input via a disparate chain of emails, direct messages, and the like, which is almost impossible to understand and keep organized. 

If you had used a design collaboration tool for feedback, you would have been able to collect contextual comments from clients and other stakeholders, meaning all feedback would have taken place on the asset itself.

Generally, these tool types enable designers to share deliverables via a link. They can then collect clients’ input through comments placed directly on the asset, pinning comments to a video, annotating a website, or reviewing a supported file type.

To sum it all up, design feedback tools take the guesswork out of the review and approval process by making feedback easier to provide for clients and easier to implement for designers. 🫶

Type #2: Design collaboration tools for co-creation

As the name suggests, design collaboration tools for co-creation enable users to participate equally in the design process within a shared digital workspace.

These tools encourage teamwork and improve remote collaboration while having the potential to streamline production and help users deliver projects faster.

Type #3: Design collaboration tools for productivity

When referring to design collaboration tools for productivity, we mean task and project management platforms that can accommodate the organizational needs of design teams.

Think tools that enable users to upload files, share links, add comments, and other deliverable-friendly actions.

Let’s start from the top with our list of feedback tools. 😁

Tool #1: MarkUp.io

MarkUp.io is a cloud-based, visual feedback and collaboration tool for creative professionals. 

Homepage of MarkUp.io, a design collaboration tool

The platform offers users a centralized workspace where feedback can be easily collected and organized in one place rather than scattered between millions of different channels. 😉

MarkUp.io makes the review and approval process seamless. It enables users to drag and drop designs onto their workspace and create digital copies (called MarkUps) that can be effortlessly shared with stakeholders via link or email invites.

The invitees can click ANYWHERE on the shared MarkUp to add pixel-perfect feedback, which cuts back on the back-and-forth clarifications needed for reviews that happen over email or Slack.

Useful MarkUp.io features

MarkUp.io’s design-relevant features include:

  • Contextual feedback and mark-up tools for a wide range of file formats (including live websites, images, design files, and even videos)
  • Comment threads and @mentions 
  • Version control
  • Chrome extension for creating website markups right from your browser
  • Folders for organizing your MarkUps efficiently

Pricing

MarkUp.io’s pricing starts at $49 per month for the Pro plan, which gets you the best value for its cost. It provides one Workspace, supports unlimited MarkUps and users, has 500GB of storage, and offers premiere features like Folders and custom link sharing.

Design collaboration tool MarkUp.io offers three user plans.

A custom-priced Enterprise plan is available upon request. Finally, for users with small monthly output, MarkUp.io offers a free version that includes the platform’s core functionalities.

Tool #2: Filestage

With Filestage, users can create custom workflows, keep track of and compare design versions, and ultimately streamline the feedback process.

Filestage's homepage.
Image Source: Filestage

Useful features

The platform’s main functionality revolves around requesting and providing feedback on deliverables. Its main features include:

  • Click and comment to add feedback on design projects
  • File-sharing
  • Comment threads
  • Turning comments into to-do lists with items you can tick off as they’re completed

Pricing

Filestage’s pricing starts at $95 per month for the first five users. The cost for additional users starts at $19 per user per month.

Filestage offers three pricing plans.
Image Source: Filestage

Tool #3: ProofHub

ProofHub is a project management tool with collaboration and design feedback features.

ProofHub's homepage.
Image Source: ProofHub

The platform helps product teams optimize task management, communication, and collaboration to establish efficient workflows and deliver projects on time.

ProofHub’s design collaboration includes:

  • File sharing 
  • Approval workflows
  • Design feedback with comments and @mentions
  • Notifications

Pricing

ProofHub is offered across two pricing plans that vary between $45 and $89 per month.

ProofHub offers two pricing plans.
Image Source: ProofHub

Tool #4: Red Pen

Red Pen is a feedback tool for teams with a visual-based workload (like designers).

Red Pen's homepage.
Image Source: Red Pen

Its simple drag-and-drop and click-to-comment functionalities make the platform easy to use and implement across businesses.

Useful features

Red Pen’s features include:

  • Version tracking
  • File sharing
  • Point-and-click comments for contextual feedback

Pricing

RedPen’s pricing is based on a per-project model and starts at $20 per month for 5 projects.

Design collaboration tool Red Pen offers four pricing plans.
Image Source: Red Pen

Tool #5: zipBoard

This tool is geared toward both designers and developers. zipBoard is a bug-tracking and feedback platform.

Homepage of design collaboration tool Zipboard.
Image Source: zipBoard

It enables web design and web development teams to collaborate better through its task management and visual proofing features. Plus, the platform makes it easier for QA engineers to report and document bugs they encounter during testing.

Useful features

zipBoard’s features include:

  • Bug tracking and issue tracking
  • Annotation
  • Mark-up tools
  • Visual review and feedback

Pricing

zipBoard’s pricing is available only on demand.

Tool #6: ruttl

ruttl is a digital whiteboard visual that teams can use to share projects and collect contextual feedback on deliverables.

Homepage for design collaboration tool ruttl.
Image Source: ruttl

ruttl enables users to collaborate on live websites, web apps, PDF files, and images. This makes it an ideal tool for remote-first teams.

Useful features

ruttl supports features such as:

  • Integrations with tools like Zapier and Asana
  • Contextual comments
  • Edit mode that allows users to replace images, directly edit copy, and more

Pricing

ruttl’s pricing ranges between $13 and $33 per month. The tool is also offered for free as a basic version suitable for personal use.

Design collaboration tool ruttl offers four pricing plans.
Image Source: ruttl

***

That was the first section of our list, but don’t go anywhere! Now, we’re moving on from feedback to co-creation tools. Visme is first on the list.

Tool #7: Visme

Visme is an online design tool users can leverage to create, share, and edit professional-looking presentations, infographics, social media content, etc.

Visme's homepage.
Image Source: Visme

Visme offers designers an easy way to create visual content through templates and collaboration in real-time to provide feedback, brainstorm, or co-create.

Useful features

The most relevant design collaboration features supported by Visme include:

  • Digital workspaces to which you can invite team members
  • Tools for ensuring branding consistency for fonts, colors, logos, etc.
  • Real-time feedback and collaborative design editing 
  • Automatic notifications that are triggered as comments are added to designs 

Pricing

Visme’s pricing plans range from $12.25 to $24.75 per month, with the Team plan only available upon request.

Visme's pricing plans.
Image Source: Visme

Visme also allows users to create free accounts with limited functionality.

Tool #8: Mockplus Cloud

Mockplus Cloud is a design collaboration and handoff tool that designers and developers can use to streamline their workflow.

Mockplus' homepage.
Image Source: Mockplus Cloud

With Mockplus Cloud, users can create prototypes, screen flows, web page layouts, and everything in between.

Useful features

In addition to helping with developer handoff, Mockplus Cloud enables users to:

  • Review design work and pin feedback contextually
  • Track iterations of designs
  • Share specs and code snippets with developers via link

Pricing

Mockplus Cloud’s pricing starts at $4.95 per user per month. The platform features a free version with limited features, suitable for teams of under 10 users.

Mockplus' pricing plans.
Image Source: Mockplus Cloud

Tool #9: Figma

Figma is a collaborative platform for user interface (UI) design.

Figma's homepage.
Image Source: Figma

It allows designers and developers to create, edit, and comment on digital deliverables together. 

Teams can use Figma to create user flows, wireframes, and mock-ups for websites and mobile apps together, collaborating in real time.

Useful features

Figma offers features like:

  • Design tools (e.g., pen tool, arc designs, typography)
  • Design translated into web-ready code
  • Plugins and widgets for workflow optimization and automation
  • Link sharing for unlimited users

Pricing

Figma’s pricing ranges from $12 to $45 per editor, per month. Additionally, Figma is available as a free version for a limited number of projects and files.

Figma's pricing plans.
Image Source: Figma

Tool #10: InVision

InVision is an online whiteboard that helps boost productivity and creativity by enabling teams to align faster and collaborate better within a real-time workspace.

InVision's homepage.
Image Source: InVision

InVision is mainly used for prototyping, allowing designers to create interactive mock-ups using templates. 

The platform also enables professionals to share design mock-ups with stakeholders via link and make the review and approval process faster and easier.

Useful features

InVision includes:

  • Design prototyping
  • Project management
  • Real-time whiteboarding and design meetings 
  • User testing
  • Feedback and contextual commenting

Pricing

InVision’s pricing starts at $4 per user per month. The Enterprise plan is custom-priced and available upon request. A free version is also available. 

InVision's pricing plans.
Image Source: InVision

Tool #11: Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a vector-based experience design platform developed for UI and user experience (UX) design. 

Adobe XD's homepage.
Image Source: Adobe XD

The platform enables teams to design anything from websites to smartwatch applications collaboratively. 

Adobe XD is mainly used for whiteboarding, wireframing, prototyping, animation and interaction design, and developer handoff.

Useful features

Adobe XD’s features include:

  • Prototyping tools
  • Customizable share links that share only elements you choose (e.g., comments, variables, specs)
  • Comments and @mentions
  • Version history

Pricing

Adobe XD can be purchased as a standalone app for $9.99 per month or as part of Adobe’s creative stack that includes 20 other apps (e.g., Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, etc.) for $54.99 per month.

Adobe XD's pricing plans.
Image Source: Adobe XD

We’re almost to the finish line! Last but not least, let’s get into productivity and task-management platforms.

Tool #12: Asana

One of MarkUp.io’s most frequently-requested integrations, Asana is task-management software that helps teams create efficient digital workspaces with custom workflows, checklists, due dates, and calendars.

Asana's homepage.
Image Source: Asana

The platform helps teams break down massive projects into manageable tasks. Users can create and assign tasks to team members, add comments, set deadlines, and add files and links to individual projects. 

These capabilities make creative collaboration easier and more efficient.

Useful features

Asana’s features include:

Pricing

The basic version of Asana is free. The platform’s premium pricing plans range from $10.99 to $24.99 per user per month.

Asana offers three user plans.
Image Source: Asana

Tool #13: Trello

Another requested integration for MarkUp.io, Trello is a visual project-management tool based on the Kanban board model. 

Trello's homepage.
Image Source: Trello

With Trello, teams can manage and organize tasks collaboratively in a centralized workspace. 

Useful features

Trello supports features like:

  • Boards that document key steps in a team’s workflow
  • Labels for tasks
  • Due dates
  • Task assignment

Pricing

Trello is offered both as a free and a paid version with pricing ranging from $5 to $17.50 per user per month.

Trello's pricing plans.
Image Source: Trello

Our list has ended, but our friendship doesn’t have to. 🥹

GIF Source: Giphy

Over to You

Now that you have a comprehensive overview of all the design collaboration software types available in today’s market, you might feel overwhelmed.

It’s not easy to find three tools in one shot without getting lost in the wormholes of product comparison sites and buyer guides.

We’ll take some of the pressure off with a no-strings-attached test drive with MarkUp.io.

Make feedback something to look forward to with your MarkUp.io 14-day free trial!