Collecting and sharing design ideas using digital tools

using-mobile-apps

Back in the day, we spent an easy $150 at Barnes & Noble each visit to purchase anything that caught our eye. Page designers collected professional examples as inspiration for headline design, graphic unity, photo arrangement and just about everything — which was great for discussion and the first stages of adaptation.

But now we can do the same thing digitally. And it’s free.

Here are a few ways to store and share design ideas using digital media:

 1. Dropbox: Any user can create a folder and share access with others. Create one folder per section or an overall idea file for the publication. Students can upload various file types, including photos shot on-the-go from their phones.

With Dropbox, any number of collaborators can be shared on the folder to upload, view, download files.
With Dropbox, any number of collaborators can be shared on the folder to upload, view, download files.

2. Facebook group: Although students aren’t using the social utility of Facebook much these days, they can still collaborate within a closed group. A key benefit is the ability to comment on posts, so students can give feedback on a design idea or discuss visuals without being in class. Someone working from home can tag group members; notifications alert others to respond.

One possible use for a closed Facebook group is to have editors offer feedback on designs in progress while working from home.
One possible use for a closed Facebook group is to have editors offer feedback on designs in progress while working from home.

3. Pinterest: With a shared publication account, students can pin design inspiration and follow other boards as they search for ideas. The drawback here is that unless they’re using a secret board, other followers can see all of the content and discussion. Sometimes designers are pretty private about the evolution of their work and/or want readers to experience the element of surprise.

Pinterest users can upload their own pins or follow other boards to collect inspiration.
Pinterest users can upload their own pins or follow other boards to collect inspiration.

4. Trello: For staffs already using this project management tool, it just makes sense to upload design ideas here or paste links into the cards. The “attach a file” option is easy. It helps to have everything in one place, from the brainstorming and to-do lists to the design planning. Trello also has options for mentions and ways to assign users to various cards and boards, which helps ensure that all key players are seeing the posts and have the ability to comment.

The ability to attach a file combined with the checklist and commenting aspects makes this a great tool for tracking the entire process or a page or spread.
The ability to attach a file combined with the checklist and commenting aspects makes this a great tool for tracking the entire process or a page or spread.

These are just four tools; tons of others exist. In each situation, going the digital route makes more sense than a bulletin board, binder, mood wall or crate full of magazines in the classroom. Here are the benefits:

• Accessible from anywhere.

• Web-based and/or free mobile apps.

• Easy to share links or upload from smartphone camera roll.

• Nothing gets lost.

• Free.

 The true benefit is that using these digital methods for sharing exposes students to tools they might use outside their participation in student media. They learn how to be more efficient, how to think about the publication outside of the newsroom and how to be productive virtually, collaboratively, creatively — all of which matter much more than the designs they create.

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