Going through a web design project or creating mockups for mobile apps can be very challenging if your teams are not communicating, siloed, or if they are using you as the hub for all communications. The collaborative design software on this list will help you bridge those connections between the team, whether that is through a kanban board, shared to-do lists, or in-app chats.
What is collaborative design software?
Collaborative design software allows designers and other stakeholders to work together on design projects in real time. These platforms often include features like version control, feedback management, and team collaboration tools, making it easier for teams to work together efficiently.
Figma is all-in-one design software that offers robust real-time collaboration features. It works well for both individual designers and teams.
Why I picked Figma: The real-time editing feature helps designers work on the same design file, regardless of their location. When a designer makes a change to the file, it is automatically updated for all other team members. Also, it eliminates the need for designers to save and share files manually.
Figma's real-time editing feature includes a robust commenting system, which allows team members to add comments, annotations, and feedback to designs in real-time. It ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards a shared goal.
Figma also provides the version history of designs, allowing designers to track changes and revert to previous versions if needed. Users also get access to thousands of third-party plugins.
Figma Standout Features and Integrations
Features include multiplayer, unlimited viewers, shareable links, on-canvas commenting, observation mode, private projects, prototype sharing permissions, audio conversations, team and project transfer, unlimited teams, branching and merging, mobile app for iOS and Android, and custom workspaces.
Integrations include Asana, Dropbox, Flinto, Maze, Microsoft Teams, Notion, Slack, Sprig, Trello, Zeplin, and others.
- Good developer handoff
- Easy to collaborate on multiple files
- Easy to share designs
- Learning curve for new users
- Version control needs improvement
Picmaker is an online graphic design platform that offers AI-powered design assistance to businesses, marketers, and individuals looking to create professional and eye-catching visuals. Their advanced AI technology helps users create high-quality designs quickly and easily, even with little to no design experience.
Why I picked Picmaker: One cool feature of Picmaker is its AI-powered design assistant, which helps users create designs in a matter of minutes. With this feature, users can input their design requirements, and the AI will generate various design options.
The AI considers design principles such as color theory, typography, and layout to create visually appealing designs that meet the user's requirements. This feature saves time and ensures that the designs are of high quality, even for users with little to no design experience.
Picmaker offers a variety of collaboration features that allow teams to work together efficiently and effectively. These features include real-time collaboration, commenting, sharing, design templates, revision history, exporting, and sharing designs in various formats. With these collaboration tools, Picmaker makes it easy for teams to create high-quality designs, whether working in the same location or remotely.
Picmaker Standout Features and Integrations
Features include brand kits, icons and illustrations, sharing and collaboration tools, background remover, MAD button, templates, fonts, file formats, shapes and frames, photo effects, sticker maker, and a one-click resizing tool.
- Simple user interface
- Easy design file sharing
- Suitable for small teams and freelancers
- Limited real-time collaboration features
- No integration with communication tools
InVision is a digital product design platform with tools to help teams create, prototype, and collaborate on design projects.
Why I picked InVision: With the design handoff feature of InVision, developers can access design specs, assets, and code snippets directly within the software, reducing the need for manual handoff. Developers don't have to spend time recreating designs or deciphering design specifications and can instead focus on building the product.
InVision is a good solution for product design teams that need a comprehensive suite of tools to help optimize the entire design process, from ideation to handoff. Additionally, it integrates with other popular design and project management tools. Finally, the drag-and-drop features and easy-to-use interface ensure team members can easily offer design feedback.
InVision Standout Features and Integrations
Features include commenting, public share links, guest permissions, custom freehand templates, prototypes, design management, digital canvas, feedback management, mind maps, multiple user accounts, planning tools, and presentation tools.
Integrations include Asana, Basecamp, Dropbox Business, Google Drive, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Notion, Rippling, Slack, Trello, and others.
- Easy to use
- Good support team
- Sometimes pages load slowly
- Occasional glitches
Balsamiq is a popular wireframing tool that can help you generate mockups of software and websites. Its simple interface makes it an ideal choice for those who are new to the process of wireframing.
Why I picked Balsamiq: One of the notable features of Balsamiq is its built-in presentation tools that allow users to showcase their mockups in a visually appealing way. With Balsamiq, users can easily create interactive prototypes, add annotations, and create custom presentations that can be viewed on any device.
One of the main advantages of Balsamiq's presentation tools is that they make it easy to share mockups and ideas with stakeholders, clients, and team members. Users can share their presentations through a variety of channels, such as email, social media, or embedded links, and receive feedback in real-time.
Balsamiq caters to designers, developers, and product managers who need to create quick mockups of their software and web applications.
Balsamiq Standout Features and Integrations
Features include commenting, exporting and importing, feedback management, multiple user accounts, synchronous editing, version control, presentation tools, UI prototyping, whiteboard, user management, image library, and multiple projects.
Integrations include Bubbles, Confluence, Google Drive, Google Workspace, Jira, Shift, and Trello.
- Good real-time collaboration features
- Simple and easy interface
- Affordable pricing plans
- Limited export options
- Limited animation features
Avocode is a design collaboration software that facilitates cross-functional collaboration between graphic designers, web developers, and other creative professionals.
Why I picked Avocode: The best part about Avocode is that it automatically tracks changes to design files and allows team members to compare and revert to previous versions of the design easily. This feature is particularly useful when multiple team members are collaborating on a project and need to keep track of changes and revisions made to the design.
Avocode helps generate code snippets directly from design files and supports a wide range of design file types, including Sketch, Adobe XD, and Photoshop.
Avocode Standout Features and Integrations
Features include synchronous editing, group calendars, discussion boards, chat, brainstorming, content management, task management, project management, contact management, document management, and version control.
Integrations include Atom, Behance, Confluence, Dropbox, HTML iframe, Jira, Medium, Notion, Slack, Visual Studio Code, and others.
- Responsive customer support
- Easy to export files
- Easy to convert designs into code snippets
- The interface is difficult to navigate
- Performance issues with large files
Simplified is design software that caters to businesses and creative professionals who need to streamline the design approval process. With its user-friendly interface and powerful collaboration tools, Simplified is the go-to solution for teams looking to speed up the design review process.
Why I picked Simplified: The unlimited workspaces feature allows users to create and manage multiple workspaces, each with its own team members and design projects. This feature is handy for agencies, design studios, or in-house creative teams that need to work on multiple projects simultaneously. With unlimited workspaces, users can collaborate with more clients and stakeholders and take on a higher volume of projects without sacrificing organization or productivity.
Other standout features of the software are an intuitive interface, unlimited workspaces, real-time collaboration tools, and the ability to get instant approvals on designs. These features will help you minimize team communication errors and deliver high-quality designs on time.
Simplified Standout Features and Integrations
Features include unlimited workspaces, real-time comments, workflow folders, content import/export, content library, content management, and reporting or analytics.
Integrations include Facebook, Google Docs, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Shopify, Twitter, and WordPress.
- User-friendly interface
- Folders help keep designs organized
- Limited advanced design features
- Limited customization options
Zeplin provides a platform for designers to share design specifications, assets, and resources with developers in a structured and organized manner.
Why I picked Zeplin: One cool feature of Zeplin is its ability to automatically generate CSS snippets for developers based on the design specifications. This feature saves developers a lot of time and effort in translating the design specs into CSS code, as they can simply copy and paste the generated code snippets into their code editor. Additionally, this ensures consistency between the design and development stages of the product.
Zeplin is primarily for digital product teams, designers, developers, and project managers looking for a collaborative platform to facilitate the design-to-development handoff process. The essential features of the software are the ability to generate code snippets for developers and its integration with popular design tools like Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD.
Zeplin also offers features like commenting, versioning, and project management, making it a comprehensive solution for digital product teams.
Zeplin Standout Features and Integrations
Features include user flows, design version control, design operations, global style guides, connected components, design tokens, extensions, version tracking, data archiving, and documentation management.
Integrations include Adobe XD, Figma, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Sketch, Slack, Storybook, Trello, Visual Studio Code, and Zapier.
- Helps designers and developers collaborate in real-time
- Supports a wide range of file formats
- The style guide feature helps ensure consistency
- Some users report issues with speed
- Relatively expensive for small teams
Bluescape is a virtual workspace that offers a highly collaborative platform for creative design, project management, and virtual events.
Why I picked Bluescape: Bluescape comes with advanced security features to ensure that all data and information shared within the platform is safe and secure. All data transfers between the user's device and the Bluescape server are encrypted using industry-standard SSL/TLS protocols.
It also offers a multi-factor authentication system that includes password protection, SSO, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) options to ensure that only authorized users can access the platform.
The tool is ideal for businesses and organizations of all sizes. It also offers an unlimited canvas, interactive whiteboard, video conferencing, and chat features. In addition, the co-browsing feature lets team members navigate web pages together in real-time, which is helpful during research.
Bluescape Standout Features and Integrations
Features include an activity dashboard, activity tracking, annotation, approval workflow, archiving and retention, audio/video conferencing, brainstorming, calendar management, messaging, notes, diagramming, digital canvas, forums, document management, and storage.
Integrations include Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, and others.
- Good visualization tools
- Audio quality needs improvement
- Ideal for big companies
- Steep learning curve
- Clunky at times
Cage is a web-based collaboration platform for creative teams working on visual projects. The platform is ideal for creative agencies, design studios, and marketing teams who need to manage design projects and obtain client feedback.
Why I picked Cage: The best thing about Cage is that it supports a wide range of file formats, including PDF, images, audio, video, and so on. So regardless of the type of digital asset you work with, Cage likely can support it. Also, since Cage supports many file formats, you won't have to switch between multiple software applications.
Overall, Cage is for you if you require a solution to manage large volumes of digital assets efficiently. It provides a centralized platform for organizing, sharing, and collaborating on files, with powerful search and metadata features. It also integrates with popular design and project management tools.
Cage Standout Features and Integrations
Features include annotations, approvals, project messages, version history, task comments, dashboard and activity streams, file attachments, calendars, project milestones, flexible sharing, permissions and roles, automatic backups, and unlimited archiving.
Integrations include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD, Desktop, Dropbox, Google Chrome, Slack, and others.
- Extensive range of file formats
- Good visual collaboration features
- Provides task management features
- The auditing feature needs improvement
- Limited customizations
Conceptboard is a visual collaboration tool that helps creative teams, designers, and remote teams brainstorm ideas and plan strategies.
Why I picked Conceptboard: The tool offers a managed hosting feature that provides additional security, flexibility, and control for enterprise-level organizations. With managed hosting, organizations can host Conceptboard on their servers or private cloud infrastructure. This allows them to have complete control over their data, as it is not stored on Conceptboard's servers.
The infinite canvas and real-time collaboration feature make Conceptboard great for whiteboarding. With an infinite canvas, users have unlimited space to brainstorm and create ideas, making it an ideal tool for ideation and brainstorming sessions. In addition, users can add templates or various elements to their canvas, including text, images, shapes, and drawings.
Conceptboard also offers video and audio conferencing capabilities, which help users to gather feedback on designs in real time.
Conceptboard Standout Features and Integrations
Features include infinite canvas, moderation, live cursors, file import, board history, role management, template library, project management, managed hosting, screen sharing, chat, comment, and board approval workflow.
Integrations include Atlassian Confluence, Dropbox, Full Page Screenshot, Google Drive, and Microsoft Teams.
- Good interface
- Large library of templates
- Easy to create boards
- Limited customization
- Limited languages
Best collaborative design software for real-time collaboration
Free plan available
Best collaborative design software for AI-powered design assistance
Free forever plan available
|Plans start at $9.95/month||Website|
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Free plan available
Best collaborative design software for sharing design mockups
30-day free trial
Best collaborative design software for cross-functional collaboration between teams
Free trial available
|Plans start at $19/user/month||Website|
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Free forever version available
|Plans start at $24/month||Website|
Best collaborative design software for improving the design handoff process
Free plan available
|Plans start at $8/user/month||Website|
Best collaborative design software for advanced security and privacy features
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|Plans start at $12/user/month||Website|
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Best collaborative design software for non-designers
Best collaborative design software for graphic designers, marketing teams, and agencies
Best collaborative design software for teams that need to manage design feedback and approvals with clients and stakeholders in a single platform
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Best collaborative design software for teams that need a digital whiteboard to brainstorm, plan, and collaborate visually on design projects
Best collaborative design software for creating design briefs and project planning
How I Picked The Best Collaborative Design Software
If you’re curious about how I selected the best collaborative design software, then let me take you through the process. I compiled a list of collaborative design software with positive reviews and ratings and then refined the list against the following selection criteria.
Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best collaborative design software for this article.
I evaluated each tool's ease of use and overall user experience, ensuring that it was accessible and intuitive for both designers and non-designers alike.
I looked for software with standout features, such as real-time collaboration, version control, and easy feedback management.
I considered each tool's ability to integrate with other software and platforms that designers commonly use, such as Sketch, Adobe Creative Suite, and project management tools.
I also evaluated each platform's pricing model and overall value for the features. Finally, I prioritized tools with a free plan and various pricing options.
What are the benefits of collaborative design software?
Why is collaborative design important?
What other product management software should I use?
We have more articles that will help you know more about designers and their work. Check out the 5 design frameworks to run a killer ideation workshop and the basics of product design to build stickier experiences.
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