Top 5 Collaborative Tools for Building a Website

Here at Heave Design, we pride ourselves on having a versatile team capable of handling a wide array of projects. We’re located in Los Angeles, but many of our team members don’t often (or ever) work from our office. We think the beauty of the internet is its ability to connect us from far-flung points and allow us to build something together, but it requires a certain level of organization to keep things going smoothly. Below are a few of our favorite tools to keep everyone happy during the course of a project, whether you are a designer, developer, or stakeholder. Take a look, and let us know what you think!




1. Google Drive (Part of Google Apps for Work)

Gone are the days of emailing countless versions of files back and forth! You’ll (probably) never again be 30 minutes into a conference call, only to realize that you’ve been referencing an obsolete draft! With Google Drive, it’s possible to always have access to the right document, spreadsheet, folder, or image, in real time. Being able to keep your team on the same page is crucial to a cohesive, efficient workflow.

When your whole team is plugged in to Google Drive, they can update, create, or download current versions of all Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Google Slides. Simple sharing permissions grant the project manager the ability to control who can do what (which is very exciting), which helps streamline processes by keeping things focused.

  • Gathering content and getting client approvals more simply with select Google Docs shared with stakeholders
  • Syncing all client assets (project files, contracts, etc.) so that they are centrally collected and organized using folders, which can be shared as needed
  • Built in version control allows you to revert to older versions, or know when something has been changed, and by whom
  • Google Apps for Work includes the whole suite of Google tools, like Gmail, Drive, etcetera

Google Apps for Work costs around $5 per user per month

2. InVision

Like Google Drive, InVision is a wonderful tool for connecting various members involved in a project. InVision’s primary aim is to make the design approval process much more simple and efficient. Now, you can test out how a design feels, whether desktop, tablet, or mobile, before committing any time to code. Clients benefit from interactive presentations using LiveShare, or even static comps that they can click through to get the feeling of the user flow. By sharing designs and utilizing the interactive chat functions, notes and feedback are more clear than ever, and less likely to get lost in email chains or phone calls.

By syncing your design files using Invision Sync, you can take your design comps right out of Illustrator, Photoshop, or Sketch and instantly create new screens in existing InVision projects. Oh, and the freshest versions will automatically update on the app when you save your source files, enabling your team or your clients and stakeholders to see what you’ve been up to. We swear by InVisionSync,and you will too!

  • Enabling designers to sync design files from a variety of sources, such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch
  • Commenting on designs in progress, so that the updates can be more thorough and progressive
  • Previewing a user interface easily, so that developers can provide feedback before designs are locked in
  • Stakeholder previews and presentations using LiveShare

We use their Professional Plan offering unlimited projects for $25/month


3. Asana

Asana is the task-master you’ve always needed. It extends across your entire enterprise, from managing work that designers and developers are handling, to your support staff and marketing teams – and, as needed, stakeholders can tap into certain tasks with limited access on specific projects. Asana also plays nicely with others. Among a host of other add-ons, it integrates time-keeping apps like Harvest, so that tracking hours and budgets fits seamlessly into other aspects of your team’s functionality.

It’s the best when something else thinks of things so that you don’t have to – due dates, tasks, progress reports, file managements – the nitty gritty. Asana can be a lifesaver at work, but all work and no play makes you a pretty dull person. At Templana, you can find project templates that will help you with everything from planning an awesome vacation, to organizing that flash mob you’ve always wanted.

  • Asana integrates with time-keeping apps like Harvest to track tasks and budgets
  • Task management across your entire enterprise (Designers, developers, support staff, marketing, stakeholders can all be given limited task access using projects)
  • Not just limited to building websites, follow this link for project templates to everything from planning your next vacation to organizing a flash mob

Asana Premium is as cheap as $21/month for teams of 5 people

4. Skype

Working with a remote group means that you may have talented team members (or clients) all over the world. Now, there’s nothing that can really help you navigate that time difference, but Skype certainly takes the stress out of paying for long-distance phone, video, and chat connection. You can set up a phone number for your business for extremely low rates, or brave the camera and set up video chats, including screen-sharing to discuss animations or other work.

A common thread through all of the best collaborative tools is communication. Skype has been around for a while, and shows no signs of disappearing. Why? It’s functional, easy to use, cheap, and gets people connected. It has built-in functions like chat and video conferencing, but can be pared down to simply serve as your company’s phone line.

  • Real-time chatting via text or voice
  • Screen-sharing to discuss animations, etc

Free and paid plans available

5. Trello

Sticky notes are awesome. Until they blow away, or someone sets a coffee cup on one and it becomes illegible, or you run out of the right colors and it totally messes up your sticky-note chi. With Trello, you can have your sticky notes, without all the problems. Creating task lists in an organized, clear fashion is a great way to see what lies ahead, and Trello does a great job at keeping it simple. You can customize your note “cards” by using labels, uploading file attachments, writing commentary that can be shared with others using the same board, and assigning due dates to your tasks.

Trello won’t overwhelm you with options, which can be great when you’re just trying to get your to-do lists made. You can size up or down on features depending on the scope of the project, and rest assured that you won’t lose your notes, since Trello’s built-in search functionality helps you track down items in a flash. We use it as a quick way to list project bugs and get them squashed pronto!

  • Task management – Get as detailed as you like with individual cards, or create to-do lists
  • Bug-tracking
  • Easy to manage lots of small tasks with less distractions

Trello Business Class $3.75/user/month

Do you have a project management tool that we didn’t list here? Tell us about it on Twitter!