How to Use Miro for Remote Collaboration
RealtimeBoard (now Miro) is a remote whiteboard tool for distributed teams. It’s designed for lean and agile software development, UX design, research, and mind mapping, just to name a few.
Collaboration with Miro is realtime and asynchronous. Miro offers templates for everything from kanban boards to user flow maps, and it also integrates with an impressive amount of other apps and tools. In this article, I’ll show you how it massively improves my product design workflow, specifically when it comes to collaborating with clients and presenting work-in-progress.
1. User Flow Maps
A user flow map is a diagram that represents all of the different interactions that a user could make as they use an app or website.
User flow maps can be created as a way of brainstorming how users might navigate an app or website (in which case the map would be nothing more than a flowchart), or they can be made to include the actual screens from an already-designed app or website, in which case the flows would originate from the interactive ‘tap targets’ themselves.
User flow maps can be useful at almost every stage of the product design workflow, for planning and for design handoff, so I recently switched from InVision to Miro to leverage this better.
Switching to Miro From InVision
Although InVision offers a tool that facilitates digital sketching (Freehand), and of course InVision’s UI design tool (InVision Studio) enables high-fidelity design, at this moment in time InVision doesn’t offer any native functionality that allows for the diagramming of user flows.
I’d have to create makeshift user flows using clickable prototypes, which isn’t ideal because developers usually prefer seeing a visual representation of the entire flow at once; it helps them understand the actions users would take a whole lot better.
So I switched to Miro.
As an added bonus Miro integrates with Sketch via plug-in, and this integration allows me to drop the artboards with wireframes or high-fidelity designs straight into Miro, where I can then create user flow maps with ease and connect independent boards into a cohesive visualized user flow.
Miro does have a bunch of ready-made templates, though, including a user flow map template, and these are really handy for rougher, early-stage experimentations (solo, or as a team).
Also, since I’m not interested in breaking up the design workflow too much (i.e. switching to Miro, then switching back to InVision, and so on), I made the decision to commit to Miro completely, especially since most of the developers with whom I work love the connected user flows. These user flow maps in combination with Zeplin (which I use for design handoff) is the optimal setup for them.
But it begs the question, why create user flows anyway?
Why create user flows? 🤔
I’ve found that the visual layout of user flows is super helpful when showing off my work to clients and handing off designs to developers for implementation.
On the design side of things, diagramming user flows is an excellent way to reduce friction in the user’s experience, and I can do this before diving into UI design, or alongside it.
The main takeaway here is that user flow maps are really useful for exploring ideas relating to the user’s navigational experience, but also for communicating them to stakeholders.
2. Interactive Presentations
Although InVision facilitates communication using comments, their commenting functionality isn’t as interactive as Miro’s collaboration and presentation modes, so there’s much less of that exciting ‘we’re all working together right now’ vibe. As an example, if a client wanted to experiment with a quick edit to a user flow, I could make changes instantly (i.e. while the client watches and the lines of communication are still open). With InVision, I’d have to hand-off a new version with every edit and re-request feedback.
The main takeaway here is that collaboration in Miro is frictionless — faster, easier, and results in better feedback.
3. Everyone’s a Designer
What I really love about Miro is how it enables democratic decisions — everyone has the ability to be as much of a designer as they want to be using Miro’s collaborative functionalities.
Everybody has a say.
As an example, I use affinity mapping to consolidate user research acquired from user interviews, sticky notes for sharing HMW (How Might We) opportunities that arise from this research, and then we have a team vote on which solutions might be worth prototyping. Granted, prototyping may be out of bounds for the average non-designer, however, anybody can engage in a simple live sketching or wireframing session.
We often do this with product managers on the client-side.
Conclusion: Miro vs. InVision
While there are other tools (and integrations) that can facilitate the creation of user flows, collaborative whiteboard sessions, and whatever else, I chose Miro as our default brainstorming tool because it offers a combination of everything that I consider to be integral to an efficient product design workflow.
Ultimately, if you’re working within a highly-energetic team where there are are many conversations going on at once, Miro’s collaborative environment is the better choice, especially if you’d like to showcase your work with crystal-clear user flows during remote client presentations.
InVision, however, is better for slower-paced teams where feedback does not necessarily happen in realtime.