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TECHNOLOGY

Best Practices And Tools For Effective Remote Collaboration (UX/UI Designers)

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Since the pandemic, many teams have started working remotely.

Today, distributed teams have become common. However, many still struggle to collaborate effectively while working remotely with product designers, developers, and other stakeholders. The key to effective remote collaboration for UI/UX designers is to keep their team short, follow the best practices, and choose the right remote collaboration tools. But before getting to that, let’s learn what you should avoid when working with a remote team.

Things to Avoid for Effective Remote Collaboration

When To Redesign Your Website

1. Never Specify the Entire Design

Avoid sharing the whole product design at once and ask for feedback. If you work on the design solely and present it at once, that’s not collaborative. It’s a process, and every member involved must get a say and approve of what goes in the design.

2. Prioritizing Business Objectives

You will get nothing out of prioritizing your business objectives over the users’ needs. Your goal should be to help users solve the problem they’re facing. Help them with the right solutions, and you’ll hit your business goals eventually.

3. Putting Thought into The Product After Design

This is the worst practice for designing and developing a product. You can’t simply decide to build a product called X, make it look pretty and simple to use, leaving the thought behind it for later. A lot of research and planning goes into a product design to make it successful.

4. Neglect or Downgrade The Role of Design

Design should be equal to product, marketing, and engineering, rather than report into any of those functions.

5. Binding Conversations

Always make room for frequent healthy discussions, brainstorming sessions, or rituals where all the members get an opportunity to think outside of the box and share their ideas. You’ll be glad about what those discussions bring to the table.

6. Dismissing Challenging Questions

Don’t ignore designers or other team members when they ask great questions about an initiative. It’s best to take the time to clarify what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Help them discover the answers to the challenging questions to avoid mistakes and inferior results later.

Best Practices for Effective Remote Collaboration for UI/UX Designers

Why Redesigning your Business Structure will Help you Scale

Now that you know what to avoid to collaborate effectively with your distributed team, let’s look at some of the best practices you must follow.

1. Keep Your Team Small

Small teams with up to 8 to 10 members are easy to manage, communicate and work with. It makes the process slicker, easy to assign roles, track who is working on what, and everyone knows when and where to get more involved.

2. Choose a Central Collaboration Hub

Often, there are members in a distributed UX team that work across different geographies and time zones. Plus, within an enterprise organization, you must also communicate with other stakeholders. Therefore, UI/UX teams must utilize remote collaboration tools at their disposal effectively. You must choose a collaboration platform like Slack or Trello to communicate, store files, assign roles and track progress. If everything related to the project stays on one central platform, it will be easier to get it done.

Think of it as your virtual desk. Everything work-related stays there, even when you’re not available. If another member has to deliver a message or share any files with you, they leave it on your desk, and you respond to it when you return. Nothing goes missing, you don’t have to use multiple platforms to communicate with your team, and you can get things done on time.

3. Conduct Workshops

UI/UX workshops have always been an effective way to collaborate and better understand the product. They help you to get to know your team members in a fun and informative manner. You can conduct various types of workshops depending on the product you’re working on and the requirements at hand. Some common workshops regarding product design are organized to develop solutions, decide features, create customer journey maps, wireframing, design, navigation, etc.

4. Virtual Whiteboard Activities

You can also consider conducting frequent virtual-whiteboard activities. These are really effective in democratizing the process somewhat and making all team members feel included. Moreover, visual board activities make it easy to brainstorm, create flowcharts, take screenshots, model and wireframing. They’re also helpful in creating processes, maps, journeys, and sketches. These activities make all the material accessible to every team member even when they’re not present in person. Best of all, you won’t run out of space because you can zoom in and out on the whiteboard canvas.

In an in-person setting, there can be a tendency for some people to be more vocal and active—others not as much. Collaborating in a virtual setting doesn’t change the vocal dynamic much, but it does offer a level of comfort and ease that doesn’t always exist in person. Some of the best online whiteboards or best remote collaboration tools for design teams are:

  • Mural for big remote meetings

  • Miro for turning tasks into ideas

  • Stormboard for creating multiple whiteboards in a single brainstorming session.

5. Focus on Team Communications

As UI/UX professionals, you must communicate well. Your team may be distributed across different geographies and time zones, probably including designers, architects, managers, researchers, and analysts. As a result, you may have diverse communication needs and must deal with the latest complications effectively. In order to do that, you must follow these best practices for clear communication with your team:

  1. Make your goals clear: Ensure that all team members know their responsibilities and where they need to align in the process.

  2. Leave no details to chance: As UI/UX designers, you might often face receiving ever-evolving requirements from stakeholders. Plus, you must be sure to create solutions for users based on specific research findings. Whenever you receive new requirements, whether from a stakeholder or research findings, reach out and communicate with the right people to gain the clarity you need.

  3. Organize design breakout sessions: Be it once or twice a week; meet with three or more UX designers in your breakout session. Discuss their experience with evolving design standards, ever-changing user needs, and multiple, simultaneous research efforts. It is imperative to make time to talk through your ideas, design directions, user journeys and share updates before any design and development implementations. This approach helps facilitate meaningful critiques during the exploration and other phases throughout the process before you go too far down the line.

6. Milestone Reviews

Milestones are significant events that occur or goals you meet during the product design process. A milestone can be completing a visual design, a journey map, a particular feature, etc. Milestone reviews are more about product strategy and collaborative work than individual design decisions.

In order to have excellent remote collaboration, it’s essential to have regular milestone reviews with your entire team to illustrate how your design is evolving and to make sure each member feels valuable to the team.

Best Tools for Effective Remote Collaboration

 Providing Project Management Tools

Here’s a list of the 6 best remote working platforms that can help you achieve effective remote collaboration:

1. Miro

Formerly known as a real-time board, Miro brings teams together, anytime and anywhere. Developers, designers, and project managers can run engaging, productive remote meetings and workshops to share ideas or solve problems without hassle. The comprehensive ideation platform offers templates and agile workflows with research, strategy, planning, mapping, and diagramming resources.

2. Sketch

Praised for excellent prototyping capabilities and lightweight interface, Sketch is one of the best remote work collaboration tools. It’s intuitive enough for those with low levels of design experience to pick up. The digital tool kit also offers its own cloud service allowing remote teams to upload and collaborate on projects.

3. Abstract

If you’re looking for a comprehensive version control solution for your UI/UX design team, look no further than Abstract. The Git-inspired real-time collaboration tool integrates with Sketch and Adobe XD. It enables multiple designers to centralize decisions and share feedback and files. You can also create ‘collections’ that allow external teams to preview designs.

4. UserZoom

Need to test ideas and keep pace with agile sprints quickly? Then UserZoom is one of the best remote working platforms and an ideal solution. It is an all-in-one, cloud-based UX research tool that provides you with intuitive study builders to enable rapid user testing. The platform offers research methods, including usability, card sorting, and click testing. You can instantly share studies with remote users. What’s more? You can measure behavioral and attitudinal insight within hours to inform fast, confident decision-making.

5. Optimal Workshop

Optimal Workshop is a cost-effective UX research toolkit you can try for free! After a quick signup, you can access plenty of studies, including card sorting, tree testing, online surveys, and first impressions. Once the results are in, you can share them with your team members to help validate essential design decisions.

6. Microsoft Teams

Remote working always needs a reliable collaboration hub. While there are plenty of video conferencing and calling tools on the market, Microsoft Teams is perhaps one of the most reliable, practical remote work collaboration tools. You can collaborate without compromising privacy and security while seamlessly engaging in chat conversations, 1:1 video meetings, and sharing files with entire teams.

Conclusion

Now that you’re familiar with the best practices and effective collaborative tools for remote working, you can definitely nail every project you work on with a distributed team. If you have more valuable suggestions or something more to add, we’d be glad to read them in the comment section below.


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TECHNOLOGY

Next-gen chips, Amazon Q, and speedy S3

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AWS re:Invent, which has been taking place from November 27 and runs to December 1, has had its usual plethora of announcements: a total of 21 at time of print.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the huge potential impact of generative AI – ChatGPT officially turns one year old today – a lot of focus has been on the AI side for AWS’ announcements, including a major partnership inked with NVIDIA across infrastructure, software, and services.

Yet there has been plenty more announced at the Las Vegas jamboree besides. Here, CloudTech rounds up the best of the rest:

Next-generation chips

This was the other major AI-focused announcement at re:Invent: the launch of two new chips, AWS Graviton4 and AWS Trainium2, for training and running AI and machine learning (ML) models, among other customer workloads. Graviton4 shapes up against its predecessor with 30% better compute performance, 50% more cores and 75% more memory bandwidth, while Trainium2 delivers up to four times faster training than before and will be able to be deployed in EC2 UltraClusters of up to 100,000 chips.

The EC2 UltraClusters are designed to ‘deliver the highest performance, most energy efficient AI model training infrastructure in the cloud’, as AWS puts it. With it, customers will be able to train large language models in ‘a fraction of the time’, as well as double energy efficiency.

As ever, AWS offers customers who are already utilising these tools. Databricks, Epic and SAP are among the companies cited as using the new AWS-designed chips.

Zero-ETL integrations

AWS announced new Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Relational Database Services (Amazon RDS) for MySQL integrations with Amazon Redshift, AWS’ cloud data warehouse. The zero-ETL integrations – eliminating the need to build ETL (extract, transform, load) data pipelines – make it easier to connect and analyse transactional data across various relational and non-relational databases in Amazon Redshift.

A simple example of how zero-ETL functions can be seen is in a hypothetical company which stores transactional data – time of transaction, items bought, where the transaction occurred – in a relational database, but use another analytics tool to analyse data in a non-relational database. To connect it all up, companies would previously have to construct ETL data pipelines which are a time and money sink.

The latest integrations “build on AWS’s zero-ETL foundation… so customers can quickly and easily connect all of their data, no matter where it lives,” the company said.

Amazon S3 Express One Zone

AWS announced the general availability of Amazon S3 Express One Zone, a new storage class purpose-built for customers’ most frequently-accessed data. Data access speed is up to 10 times faster and request costs up to 50% lower than standard S3. Companies can also opt to collocate their Amazon S3 Express One Zone data in the same availability zone as their compute resources.  

Companies and partners who are using Amazon S3 Express One Zone include ChaosSearch, Cloudera, and Pinterest.

Amazon Q

A new product, and an interesting pivot, again with generative AI at its core. Amazon Q was announced as a ‘new type of generative AI-powered assistant’ which can be tailored to a customer’s business. “Customers can get fast, relevant answers to pressing questions, generate content, and take actions – all informed by a customer’s information repositories, code, and enterprise systems,” AWS added. The service also can assist companies building on AWS, as well as companies using AWS applications for business intelligence, contact centres, and supply chain management.

Customers cited as early adopters include Accenture, BMW and Wunderkind.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

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TECHNOLOGY

HCLTech and Cisco create collaborative hybrid workplaces

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Digital comms specialist Cisco and global tech firm HCLTech have teamed up to launch Meeting-Rooms-as-a-Service (MRaaS).

Available on a subscription model, this solution modernises legacy meeting rooms and enables users to join meetings from any meeting solution provider using Webex devices.

The MRaaS solution helps enterprises simplify the design, implementation and maintenance of integrated meeting rooms, enabling seamless collaboration for their globally distributed hybrid workforces.

Rakshit Ghura, senior VP and Global head of digital workplace services, HCLTech, said: “MRaaS combines our consulting and managed services expertise with Cisco’s proficiency in Webex devices to change the way employees conceptualise, organise and interact in a collaborative environment for a modern hybrid work model.

“The common vision of our partnership is to elevate the collaboration experience at work and drive productivity through modern meeting rooms.”

Alexandra Zagury, VP of partner managed and as-a-Service Sales at Cisco, said: “Our partnership with HCLTech helps our clients transform their offices through cost-effective managed services that support the ongoing evolution of workspaces.

“As we reimagine the modern office, we are making it easier to support collaboration and productivity among workers, whether they are in the office or elsewhere.”

Cisco’s Webex collaboration devices harness the power of artificial intelligence to offer intuitive, seamless collaboration experiences, enabling meeting rooms with smart features such as meeting zones, intelligent people framing, optimised attendee audio and background noise removal, among others.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

Tags: Cisco, collaboration, HCLTech, Hybrid, meetings

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TECHNOLOGY

Canonical releases low-touch private cloud MicroCloud

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Canonical has announced the general availability of MicroCloud, a low-touch, open source cloud solution. MicroCloud is part of Canonical’s growing cloud infrastructure portfolio.

It is purpose-built for scalable clusters and edge deployments for all types of enterprises. It is designed with simplicity, security and automation in mind, minimising the time and effort to both deploy and maintain it. Conveniently, enterprise support for MicroCloud is offered as part of Canonical’s Ubuntu Pro subscription, with several support tiers available, and priced per node.

MicroClouds are optimised for repeatable and reliable remote deployments. A single command initiates the orchestration and clustering of various components with minimal involvement by the user, resulting in a fully functional cloud within minutes. This simplified deployment process significantly reduces the barrier to entry, putting a production-grade cloud at everyone’s fingertips.

Juan Manuel Ventura, head of architectures & technologies at Spindox, said: “Cloud computing is not only about technology, it’s the beating heart of any modern industrial transformation, driving agility and innovation. Our mission is to provide our customers with the most effective ways to innovate and bring value; having a complexity-free cloud infrastructure is one important piece of that puzzle. With MicroCloud, the focus shifts away from struggling with cloud operations to solving real business challenges” says

In addition to seamless deployment, MicroCloud prioritises security and ease of maintenance. All MicroCloud components are built with strict confinement for increased security, with over-the-air transactional updates that preserve data and roll back on errors automatically. Upgrades to newer versions are handled automatically and without downtime, with the mechanisms to hold or schedule them as needed.

With this approach, MicroCloud caters to both on-premise clouds but also edge deployments at remote locations, allowing organisations to use the same infrastructure primitives and services wherever they are needed. It is suitable for business-in-branch office locations or industrial use inside a factory, as well as distributed locations where the focus is on replicability and unattended operations.

Cedric Gegout, VP of product at Canonical, said: “As data becomes more distributed, the infrastructure has to follow. Cloud computing is now distributed, spanning across data centres, far and near edge computing appliances. MicroCloud is our answer to that.

“By packaging known infrastructure primitives in a portable and unattended way, we are delivering a simpler, more prescriptive cloud experience that makes zero-ops a reality for many Industries.“

MicroCloud’s lightweight architecture makes it usable on both commodity and high-end hardware, with several ways to further reduce its footprint depending on your workload needs. In addition to the standard Ubuntu Server or Desktop, MicroClouds can be run on Ubuntu Core – a lightweight OS optimised for the edge. With Ubuntu Core, MicroClouds are a perfect solution for far-edge locations with limited computing capabilities. Users can choose to run their workloads using Kubernetes or via system containers. System containers based on LXD behave similarly to traditional VMs but consume fewer resources while providing bare-metal performance.

Coupled with Canonical’s Ubuntu Pro + Support subscription, MicroCloud users can benefit from an enterprise-grade open source cloud solution that is fully supported and with better economics. An Ubuntu Pro subscription offers security maintenance for the broadest collection of open-source software available from a single vendor today. It covers over 30k packages with a consistent security maintenance commitment, and additional features such as kernel livepatch, systems management at scale, certified compliance and hardening profiles enabling easy adoption for enterprises. With per-node pricing and no hidden fees, customers can rest assured that their environment is secure and supported without the expensive price tag typically associated with cloud solutions.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

Tags: automation, Canonical, MicroCloud, private cloud

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