Useful Collaboration Tools for Design Teams and Freelancers

Individual team members generally bring to the table diverse sets of skills and levels of experience. This, at times, can make working together a difficult proposition.

The job of a team leader is thus to get these diverse individuals working toward a common goal. This is where a judicious choice of collaboration tool can help.

Freelancers are not faced with issues of a diversity of skills and levels of experience. Freelancers can still benefit greatly, by selecting the appropriate task management and collaboration tools and platforms.

With respect to design teams, team leaders can get teams working together smoothly and effectively in the following ways:

  1. Team member roles need to be established; and that having been done, they need to be constantly clarified.
  2. Individual responsibilities need to be explicitly stated. Saying “We’ll do it together as a team” doesn’t work.
  3. Decision-making responsibilities also need to be made clear. Wwhether the responsibility lies with an individual or a group. If this isn’t done, confusion is a likely outcome.
  4. Team and project goals should be reviewed on a constant basis. Doing so helps keep everything in focus.
  5. Specific tools need to be applied to specific functions. Doing so makes workflow and collaboration activities (and nearly everything else) all that much easier to carry out. Given the right tools, team members (and freelancers) are far more inclined to make good use of them.

The following tools can help smooth your team’s or your workflow.


Wake is the fastest way for designers to share work with their team. By allowing designers to upload sketches and screenshots directly from their design tools, their workflow is simplified and more transparent. Plus, work and ideas can be shared without ever having to leave Sketch, Illustrator, or Photoshop.


All Wake user connections are encrypted using HTTPS. There are also Wake apps for Mac and iPhone, so you can communicate with team members and stay current on project happenings while you’re on the go.

Wake’s Starter Plan at $22/mo. includes the Mac and iOS apps. There is also a Pro Custom Plan is for large teams who insist on having all the bells and whistles. Your best bet would be sign up for the 30-day free trial to see if Wake is right for you.


With InVision, your product design, workflow, and collaboration needs are managed from a single, easy to access platform. InVision’s many features can be brought into play without any need for development or coding. Teams (and individual freelancers) can prototype, review, refine, and user test their web and mobile products on a single design-driven project management platform.


With InVision, you can quickly review status and feedback on multiple projects, or select a specific project and drill down to view the status of individual tasks, or see how specific team members are progressing on their assigned tasks.

InVision’s clientele includes brands like Apple, GM, Sony, Adobe, and Lyft. More than 2 million users have come to rely on this award-winning design collaboration platform. Sign up today and you can work with one prototype as long as you need for free!

Active Collab

You don’t have to use separate apps for task management, invoicing, and time tracking.Active Collab does it all. This simple, yet powerful, project management tool runs on the cloud, where no setup is required. For a one-time fee, you have the option to run Active Collab on your own server.

Active Collab

Active Collab is highly customizable. You can modify Gantt and Kanban charts to exactly match your workflow. Reports you need the most will always be close at hand, collaboration among team members is easy, and you can invite clients to view project status so they can provide feedback.


Paymo is an excellent choice for a small business app if your team is working for a small to medium business. Its list of features is impressive.


Project management capabilities include task management, visual Kanban boards, Gantt charts and project templates. Time management features include automatic time tracking and timesheet reporting.

Paymo supports real-time collaboration and file sharing, and all its features and capabilities can be accessed from its iOS and Android apps. Take the 15-day unlimited free trial to see if Paymo is the right choice for you and for your team.


Pinnery is aptly named. Sharing whatever information you choose, is as easy as sticking memos on a pin board! Naturally, Pinnery goes about this information-sharing activity in a much more organized fashion. It provides perfect overviews of projects large and small, encourages collaboration, keeps everyone current on what’s happening, and even checks to see if you’re keeping within budget.


Pinnery uses Burndown charts to track project progress. These charts allow you to see when tasks are assigned, and when they have been completed. Pinnery is free to try. A Pro Version is available.


These five products give you a lot to choose from. Wake will be an excellent choice if sharing work information and collecting feedback is a priority of yours. If you are looking for a single platform that manages multiple design, collaboration, and task management needs, InVision comes highly recommended.

Paymo and Active Collab both feature powerful project management capabilities. Active Collab resides on the cloud, but you do have an option of running it from your own server.

Pinnery, somewhat like Wake, allows everyone to share everything. Also like Wake, does so in a highly organized fashion; plus, if you are a small user, you can use it for free. All these tools support and encourage team collaboration


  • Sharon Thomson

    Great list. I’d like to add ProofHub in your list. ProofHub helps you to manage your projects and collaborate with your team. Highly effective and useful tool.