All projects begin with brainstorming. And the most successful projects are those with a strong start out of the gate. So what's the best way to collaborate, share ideas, and inspire colleagues? Below are five free sites that are worth checking out.
From the makers of Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar, Google Wave is designed to “help you get stuff done with groups of people.” The online application lets groups of users work together on plans while sharing live chats, images, maps, and video. One of the best parts is the stored history, which lets newbies review what’s been posted and catch up on current planning.
Back in the days of analog, when you found a photo of interest, you’d clip it out and pin it to a corkboard. Hence the modern web name Pinterest.com. This digital bulletin board lets you save images that move you, photos you’ll need for the future, and all those pretty little things you find while surfing. Other users can comment on what you’ve posted and you can follow other users whose style you admire. Warning to graphic and interior designers: “a quick glance” can easily steal half your work day!
It may not be built specifically for this purpose, but as a designer Flickr is often the first place I start when I need ideas or inspiration. Users from around the globe upload and tag their own photographs making the pool you're searching through unbelievably wide and deep. Search the photo groups for even more good finds. However a strong word of warning, never use an image on your project without getting permission from the owner first.
There are a lot of sites out there that let you create "mind maps," but we like Bubbl.us because it's free, collaborative, and very easy to use. The color coding lets you stay organized when multiple users are building onto the same chart. Once you’ve got your mind map where you want it, you can save it as an image, email it to colleagues, print it, or even post it to your own site.
This word-based system called Edistorm uses "tile" images that have the feel of the Mac Stickies program. It lets you collaborate with others and also has computer-generated suggestions, making it great for naming new projects or products. Users can vote, group, and color code the tiles. Sign up for a free account, or upgrade to a paid subscription to create "private storms" viewable only to yourself and invited users.