BackBoard – Feedback and Collaboration Tool
Follow up review
I reviewed Backboard way back in December, 2008, albeit a short and sweet one. It was project management app that I swore by, in terms of helping keep track of design revisions and feedback, Backboard just seemed to be best at doing it just right.
Not overly complicated with a steep learning curve, not too simple as to be useless.
Nothing much has changed with the way it works, so the few words I wrote about it back then are still relevant.
Sadly, during the late part of 2009 and 2010, the reliability took a bit of a nose dive. Various hangs, page freezes meant you could not totally rely on Backboard as a client facing option. I ended up loosing patience and found other, not so great ways, to manage logo idea presentation and comments. Part of this unreliability I feel was due to them being taken over by Box.net.
For their part, they responded quickly to my various emails of frustration and concern. A few times things seemed to get back on track, before nosediving. A few other people that I knew who also used it, also expressed frustration at it’s downtime.
What was frustrating is that after trying other solutions, none offered that crucial ‘this feels right’.
I didn’t give up
After a long BackBoard break, and my existing project management system straining under the frequency of project revisions, I decided to try BackBoard once again.
Over Christmas, 2010, I uploaded my first logo design.
So far so good, no hangs or crashes. The image displayed quickly, my thoughts on the design were left and a email was sent to the client. From this moment, BackBoard seemed to be back to it’s old self. Huzzah.
I uploaded more projects, clients left their feedback, I uploaded more and more revisions successfully.
BackBoard is back to being an essential part of my project management process.
Why it is so good
It’s simple and quick. To upload one image and notify your client, just do this: (also shown by image below)
- Create image, screenshot, photo etc.
- Go to ‘New BlackBoard’.
- Upload File.
- Add details, title, comments etc.
- Invite Reviewers, ie, client email addresses etc.
Once you have published the image for review, you then sit back and wait for the client to reply. During this time you can still upload other images and leave other thoughts and comments.
The client receieves an email saying there is a image to review. Once they visit the URL they can leave a reply to your initial comments. The discussion is threaded so you can leave direct replies to each seperate discussion topic. Very easy to see what is going on.
In addition to leaving comments, you can use the virtual Red Pen to draw on the actual image. The client can indicate areas of interest or concern and leave appropriate ‘Sticky Note’ comments.
As the designer you will be notified when comments have been left, or if you are still at the URL, the updates are shown live.
You can reply and make changes in real time.
There are 100’s of project management applicaitons out there, some are simple and some are complex, each fullfulling different takes on the area of Project Management, collaboration and feedback control.
But if you are a freelancer, with a handful of projects on at any one time, something like BackBoard could really make your life easier. Clients love it when they get that email as it’s so straightforward and intuitive to get going. You can send low security URL’s or you can set up more secure URL’s, all depends on your needs at the time.
It is one of the very few web applications that actually make a huge difference to my life. I know where everything else, all the revisions are named and viewable, as are the comments for each one and it’s easy to reference an older version.
My only hope is that the few weeks of concurrent uptime is here to stay. It turns out that around September 2010, Increo managed to get on top of the instability issues with some significant server and software upgrades. In this time they have witnessed significant and continuous performance improvements, so all looks good.
If you are keen to try it out, please please give it a shot, I am sure you will love it. You can do so with a free trial.
Should you decided to subscribe just make sure you take full advantage of the free trial period to make sure it is the right solution for you.
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