For over 10 years we’ve specialised in collaborating remotely and running online design processes. This page details the tools and software we turn to time and time again.

Survey tools

Online surveys are an easy and efficient way to create surveys and gather user opinions. Compared to traditional methods, online surveys take less time to create and even less time to respond to, providing real-time results and analytics.

SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is a market leader in the online survey tool space. You can also access a panel of more than 175 million respondents from across the globe with SurveyMonkey Audience.

Typeform

Typeform is best known for its conversational approach to form design.

Google Forms

Google Forms is incredibly simple to get started with and is entirely free.

Slide and presentation creation tools

When selecting tools for online workshops, it is essential to consider how your slide and presentation format can be used and interacted with. While there are a variety of slide and presentation creation tools, below are our preferred tools that provide a wide range of features and functionality to engage participants and deliver impactful presentations in a virtual setting.

PowerPoint

PowerPoint is the de facto presentation software used for most academic, business, or corporate presentations. Easy to use and share and, as such, makes for easy collaboration. There are also thousands of templates and design tools to get you started.

Keynote

Keynote is for those who are deeply integrated into the Apple ecosystem and is free on all Apple devices. It is great alternative for those who do not have a Microsoft 365 license. You can also import of export keynote files to PowerPoint.

Slido

Slido is an audience interaction tool with live polling and Q&A features that let the audience vote and submit questions during hybrid, remote, or live meetings. You can use Slido within PowerPoint, Teams and Webex presentations.

Mentimeter

Mentimeter can provide valuable insights for your presentation with Word Clouds, Polls, and Quizzes. Similar to Slido’s with its interaction tools, Mentimeter can also provide templates for building interactive presentations.

Video conferencing tools

When selecting video conferencing tools for online workshops, it is important to consider features such as screen sharing, participant management, and ease of use. Popular options like Zoom, Teams, and Google Hangouts provide robust functionalities that can enhance the interactive and collaborative nature of virtual workshops.

Microsoft Teams

Ideal for those already using Microsoft 365 for other purposes, Microsoft Teams allows for seamless integration with other Microsoft products like Outlook and Office. Microsoft Teams has an intuitive interface, which makes things simple when collaborating with a large group. Microsoft Teams is bundled with Microsoft 365, but there is also a freemium version available, which gives you unlimited chats and video calls and 10 GB of team file storage.

Zoom

Zoom quickly rose to popularity during the pandemic and doesn’t require sign up. It enables users to communicate via private or group chat and to exchange files. You can also record your meeting and make it available for those who couldn’t attend the live session. Zoom Meetings Basic is free to use for up to 100 participants and 40-minute sessions, but you will need to upgrade to Zoom Pro if you wish to have longer meetings.

Google Meet

Our preferred option to use when it comes to basic video calls, Google Meet (formerly Hangouts) is super intuitive and easily integrates with Google and Microsoft Office Calendars. There is no need for any software installation and it is free and easy to use. However, participants will need a Google account to join meetings, which could be a limitation to some.

Group chat and instant messaging tools

The key to a great workshop lies in effective and ongoing communication. In order to increase collaboration and enable asynchronous discussion before, during, and after your workshop, it’s important to consider tools that allow for back-and-forth communications. In addition to the video conferencing tools above, we like to use the following to create communities and channels:

Slack

Slack is a messaging app that can be used across devices and platforms, making it the ideal tool to improve communications between facilitators and participants of hybrid events or extended sessions that last several days. The free version of Slack offers great features but does have a 5GB file storage limit. It’s extremely easy to use and stands out from all other communication tools with its ecosystem of app integrations (such as Zoom, Trello, and Google Drive).

Discord

Discord is an instant messaging voice, video, and text chat app and is one of the most feature-rich alternatives to Slack. It is very popular with gamers (its original intended audience), streamers and developers, but can be used to host any kind of discussion for a group of people with a shared interest, such as project management or UX. Discord’s key difference from Slack is its superior voice messaging capability and unlimited message history – making it ideal for longer training courses and ongoing facilitation.

Online whiteboard solutions

Online whiteboards are web-based collaboration tools that allow participants to brainstorm, collaborate, and share their ideas online. They can help participants visualise their ideas in real-time, foster creativity, vote on ideas, and ultimately boost the efficiency of online meetings. When considering which tool is right for your team, it is also important to consider the learning curve of each tool and whether it will hinder the contribution of participants who are not as familiar with the tool.

Mural

Mural makes it easy to create visually pleasing and intuitive whiteboards. It is a great option for teams to use as it allows for different rooms for the board with differing access rights across the board. Mural offers custom templates, flexible permissions, sticky notes, images, timers, and easy visualisation of flows, maps, journeys. Mural also offers a feature called ‘Summon’ where the facilitator can force all the participants to the same view that they are looking at.

Miro

Miro offers a free, easy-to-use virtual whiteboard. Timers, voting, a specific meeting mode with screen sharing, and chat features mean that Miro is more than capable of running collaborative meetings in person and online. Brainstorming sessions are where Miro really takes the cake as its polished slide-less meetings and presentations become a streamlined and creative experience.

Note-taking tools

Note-taking is a vital process for workshops to ensure you capture action points, useful links, and agreed-upon decisions. While pen and paper is a timeless way to jot down notes, digital tools make it easy to organise, search through and share notes. While there are hundreds of note-taking apps online, we have found these to be the most effective and easy to use:

Google Docs

Google Docs offers an easy way to take notes, collaborate, and sync across devices. Simple and reliable, Google Docs allows you to quickly format and search for the information you need, using the formatting options you are used to, with the added benefit of offline doc support. It also allows for easy sharing, with access permissions that allow participants to contribute and comment as you see fit.

Evernote

Evernote offers a variety of features that will take your notes to the next level, such as the ability to take screenshots or highlight text on the web. It’s easy to use on a desktop, mobile or tablet and allows users to tag, share and assign tasks within notes. Evernote also integrates with external apps such as Google Drive, Slack, Outlook, MS Teams, and Gmail.

Prototyping and design tools

By using prototyping and design tools in your workshops, you can gain a valuable advantage by developing visual assets for products or initiatives at an early stage, facilitating brainstorming and prototyping activities. These tools foster alignment among participants, enabling them to provide comments and suggestions on designs before final approval, ensuring a smoother workflow.

Balsamiq Wireframes

Balsamiq Wireframes is a valuable tool for online workshops and is easy for all to use. It offers extensive UI components and drag-and-drop simplicity to share ideas and work together effectively.

Marvel App

The Marvel App can help quickly transform design concepts from your workshop into interactive prototypes, enabling participants to engage in hands-on user testing and gather valuable feedback.

Figma

Figma can be used to facilitate collaborative design activities, allowing participants to ideate, wireframe, and prototype user interfaces in real time, fostering a hands-on and interactive experience. Being cloud-based, Figma ensures that designs and prototypes are instantly updated and accessible to all stakeholders.

Running an offline workshop?

Find out more about the tools and stationery we use for offline workshops.

Our thoughts

Read the latest thoughts and advice from the team at Border Crossing UX:

Developing a truly collaborative and responsive design system in Figma

As Visual Designers, User Experience Designers, User Interface Designers, Product Designers, we naturally become comfortable with the tools that we use. My recent experience testing whether I could create a design system library that is fully functional and responsive in a new tool, has made me think differently about prototyping and prompted me to make the switch to Figma from Adobe XD.

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People don’t care about your digital transformation – they just want their $#!T to work!

It might seem like a bold choice to give a talk about how people don’t care about digital transformation at a Digital Transformation Summit, but as an expert in User Research, Esther Stringer knows the importance of ensuring stakeholder buy in and giving users what they really want and need – something that works. This post gives an overview of the talk and its key takeawys.

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Designing in an interconnected world

The way the design thinking process embraces uncertainty and creatively works through problems makes it very effective in tackling complexity and creating new possibilities. This was the sentiment held by many speakers at the UX Scotland conference and is what we try to remember through every project at Border Crossing UX.

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