DIY Design Tools are hot, but what about Visual Design Tools for Teams? In this post I breakdown my top visual design tools for teams, that will skyrocket your visual content productivity and quality.
Whether you're working in a small team (or even working solo managing multiple tasks) OR part of a big team wanting to get better systems, these tools are perfect for non-designers.
BY DONNA MORITZ | 2 AUGUST, 2019
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DIY Design tools have changed. And I couldn't be happier to share these options with you – not just design tools, but visual design tools for teams. These tools could be the difference between hours and hours of freed-up-time with a huge library of visuals ready to go … and being stuck.
It's the difference between a team that has a well-oiled visual creation system and one that is haphazard, throwing out a quick design here and there but always feeling like you're behind the eight-ball and never keeping up.
In this post, I've shared three very different (and equally awesome) visual design tools for teams:
- the most-used DIY Design tool for teams on the market for non-designers, with millions of subscribers.
- a solid alternative DIY Design tool for teams that has some secret weapon team-features you'll be drooling over (I'm talking game-changing features that haven't been available before).
- a third mobile-based DIY Design tool for teams, perfect for those of you that like to do just about everything on your mobile device!
Excited? All 3 of these tools are killer, so if you're not already excited about your options for visual content team mastery, you will be by the end of this post.
Before I share the tools, here's a quick overview of my criteria for including visual design tools for teams in this post:
Criteria for Visual Design Tools for Teams
Here are the features that I am looking for in Visual Design Tools for Teams. I look for the ability to:
- Add Team Members over and above the main account owner.
- Assign Team Roles and team permission levels.
- Collaborate on Designs between team members.
- Add a Brand Kit or brand features that you and your team can use – including the ability to upload or allocate brand assets (logos, fonts, colors and images too).
- Create Team Templates that each team member can access.
- User-friendly for Designers and Non-Designers to work together.
- BONUS: to be able to Lock Down Designs so that team members can edit the design in the way you intend. Each team member has different levels of access to templates and the ability to edit and change them.
The visual design tools in this post have been selected because they include most of these features. Each has slightly different features, so be sure to check all of them out. You might gravitate towards just one of these design tools for teams. Or, you may find that 2 or 3 of them work together!
You'll notice that I haven't included the many (many) features you find across most DIY Design Tools that I love. This includes awesome templates, user-friendly features (you can create, edit, resize, publish awesome images, organise them in folders, and even create short GIFs, animations or videos) as well as access stock images or upload your own.
This post is not about the basic design functionality and features (although it goes without saying that these features have to be good for me to include these tools as a “team tool”). Rather, in this post, we are focusing purely on the features that elevate design tools to the “design tools for teams” status.
Let's take a look at what's available to your soon-to-be-killing-it team of non-designers for kicking the butt of visual content!
3 Visual Design Tools for Teams
Oh, and please know that all of these tools work exceptionally well if you have a designer on your team, too. Your designer just has to be a little open-minded about doing things in a more efficient and fun way for the entire team!
1. Canva Pro
If you have been living under a rock, you may have never heard of Canva. It's the most used DIY Design tool in the world and their Canva for Work system (now called “Canva Pro”) is their Plan for users who want to work in teams. It's perfect for solo users too.
I was one of Canva's earliest users – user #267 or thereabouts. I've been through every iteration of the tool and watched Canva grow to millions of users and climbing. Here are a few things that Canva Pro brings to the table – so that you can see if it's a good fit for you and your team:
Canva Pro Features
1. Assign Team Permissions
You can add team members under 3 levels of permissions:
- Administrators – can manage your team members and create design templates for your brand. They can also edit your brand kit.
- Template Designers – can create design templates for your brand and edit your brand kit. If you invite your designers to your team at this level, Canva will send them special tips to get started.
- Members – can create and share designs. This is perfect for anyone who needs to make branded designs on your team – especially your colleagues in marketing, social media and sales.
Here's an example of how that might look in your team:
2. Brand Kit
Canva Pro's Brand Kit lets you keep your colors, logos and fonts all in the one place for your team to access. Just set up your Brand Kit with all of your assets:
Then use those assets in your team designs – all added straight from your design dashboard. All of your team members can access them. You can upload your own fonts as long as you confirm you have licence rights to use them.
3. Collaborate and Comment on Designs
With Canva Pro you can stay consistent across your designs using team templates and design folders – for easy collaboration:
Team members can also add comments or like designs within a team:
4. Convert Designs to Team Templates
Canva Pro allows you to create designs and then convert them into team templates that other members of your team can access and edit:
Team members can then edit and use those templates to create their own designs.
Important: You will need to ask team members to copy the design to their own Canva Workspace first, or they will be editing the master template (which can go sideways very quickly!).
5. Organise Designs in Team Folders
With Canva Pro you can organise your designs into:
- your designs (view all designs or separate folders for design sets)
- designs shared with you by others
- your team templates
6. Access Designs via the Mobile App
Canva also has a mobile app, and with Canva Pro you can access the team templates on the mobile app with a caveat or two. As Canva states:
“Full access of Canva Pro features can only be done on a desktop or mobile browser. You may still access designs created with your account on your mobile apps but some special Canva Pro features and settings are not available”.
Even though you can't use full Canva Pro functionality on the app, the ability to edit your designs and access templates is a bonus, for sure.
How much does Canva Pro Cost?
Canva Pro Monthly starts at $12.95 USD per month or $9.95 USD if paid annually. Each team member must have their own separate Canva Pro subscription to be added to your team and access Canva Pro features.
Canva Pro has a lot of great functionality with its team features (including the other features you get with the tool on Canva Pro) and a lot of great features as a design tool in general. It ticks most of the boxes for my criteria for inclusion on this post, with the bonus of:
- Free Teams – if you don't have Canva Pro, you can still invite people into your Free Teams to share designs and folders. You can then upgrade to Canva Pro to unlock all team functionality and benefits (as listed above) as well as the extra features here.
- Functionality on the Mobile app – you can access and edit your team templates on the mobile app. Although you can't create them on theh app or use full Canva Pro features, being able to access and edit those templates is still super handy for your whole team.
- Ability to Schedule Posts – you can schedule your posts now on Canva which is handy if your team does not have a dedicated social media management tool.
Here are a couple of things that you won't find in Canva Pro that I'd add to the wishlist:
- Design Locking. There is no ability to lock down designs so that you can have team members edit a template without the risk of messing up the master copy. Currently, you need to rely on team members to copy the template and edit their own fresh version of the design. If they don't, and they inadvertently edit the master template, it messes it up for everyone.
- Brand Images – You can upload and organise brand images into your own folders, but there is no way for you to add them into the Brand Kit to allow the team to see your brand-approved images, icons, photos etc. The Brand Kit is restricted to logos, fonts and colors.
If you're looking for these missing features, then check out the next tool, which includes them. The brand locking in particular, is a game-changer:
2. Easil Plus
Just like Canva Pro, Easil is an exceptional design tool for teams that you may not have discovered yet. I've written about many of Easil's cool DIY Design features in this post.
As one of the Design Tools for Teams, it's definitely worth reviewing for your team. Especially when you consider that Easil includes the highly coveted Design Locking that so many creators and designers have been craving – and a couple of other features to love.
Easil Plus Features
1. Assign Team Permissions
With Easil, you can assign team members with several levels of user permissions – from 1 team member to unlimited team members. As long as each team member has a paid Easil Plus subscription, you're good to go.
Roles in Easil are also cumulative, in that more than one role can be assigned to a single team member.
Here's a breakdown of the team roles:
- Administrators – A user with Admin permissions can add, remove and manage team members in Easil Plus. This level of permission is suited to management or team members who are not required to be part of the production of your designs or marketing materials and assets.
- Brand Manager – Brand Managers can Import and manage brand assets including logos and fonts, as well as team color palettes and even brand imagery.
- Designer – Designers can create and edit template designs, add tags for search, and make designs available for fellow team members to create drafts (copies) from the designs. Designers can also apply design restrictions (locking) to a particular design that will be converted into a template.
- Member – A member can amend the editable areas on template designs that are set by Administrators or Designers (but cannot edit or unlock protected elements of a design). They can use Easil tools and Easil's Brand Kit to create on-brand graphics without worrying about choosing fonts, colors etc – all the brand assets are at their fingertips.
2. Brand Kit
Easil also has an awesome Brand Kit that allows you to upload your Fonts, Logos and Colors. Even Brand Images … which is a huge plus in Easil Plus!
You can set your fonts up according to heading, body copy or default brand fonts (or label them whatever makes sense to your team).
Here is how it looks when you then access your team brand fonts for a project in Easil:
You can choose from dozens of Easil fonts or upload your own fonts with Easil Plus – as long as you confirm you have licence rights to use them.
But as I mentioned, the Brand Kit in Easil has an additional element that I like – Brand Images.
Brand Images means that you can upload your approved Brand Images, icons and illustrations into the Brand Kit as well as the usual fonts, colors and logos. This means that the whole team can access your imagery. It also means that your team knows that they are using the most current, approved images for their projects – from current promotional images to trademarks.
It's a simple as adding them from the Brand selection panel in Easil:
I like how Easil is referred to as a “Digital Asset Management System” and it really is! Allowing you to manage all brand imagery within a team, is an awesome part of the Brand Kit. It saves SO much time.
Another side-feature that I love in Easil is that you not only get access to your brand colors in the Color tab, but you can also pull in colors from the image itself with the Color Palette Generator:
You can find out more about dozens of other design features in Easil here. But now to Brand Locking… the game changer:
3. Brand Restrictions and Brand Locking
With Brand Restrictions, Easil has literally changed the game when it comes to DIY Design tools for teams. You can create and control how your entire team accesses and edits team templates and designs.
Can I hear a gasp of excitement? No more butchered team templates! Because your team members can only edit what you want them to edit – so your brand assets are controlled every time
This includes being able to set controls over whether somebody on the team can edit layers, elements, fonts, images and colors. And it's super easy to control – just toggle off – or on – the brand locking permissions. There are no special tech skills required! Then your team can be super happy, like this:
No more “whoops” changes or edits. With Brand Restrictions, you have complete control over which part of the template can or can’t be edited.
You can toggle elements like fonts, images, color, angle, opacity, filters, text and more! Your Designer or Brand Manager can get very granular about how each template can be edited and used.
Not only is the Brand Manager and Designer happy because the rest of us non-designers can't muck up the designers. But the non-designers are happy too, because we don't need to make decisions about what we can and can't edit, move and change. Reducing decision-time saves time for everyone. Everyone knows what fonts, colors, images and changes can be used and how they can edit.
Like I said, game changer…
4. Collaborate on Designs
In Easil Plus your team can collaborate and work on designs via permission roles (ie multiple people with Designer-level permission can create and edit templates). And even have Members edit sections of a template (ie a client changing text for approval). However, you can't currently add comments to designs.
5. Convert Designs to Team Templates
I've made it no secret that I love Easil's huge library of templates for just about every type of marketing project. They have some of the most professional templates around – for everything from Instagram Stories to Posters and Facebook Ads.
But as a Tool for Teams, your own Designer or Brand Manager can convert any design into a Template for your team. They can create them from scratch using team brand assets in the Brand Kit or modify one of Easil's templates:
And remember, once those templates are added, they can be protected with Brand Locking and Restrictions (see above). It really is a great system.
Bonus: Design in Layers
And if your Designer is feeling a little uncertain about creating in Easil instead of Photoshop or Illustrator, there are many designer-friendly features in Easil that help them to do so – like the ability to design in layers. In fact, it's more like Photoshop than just about any other DIY design tool out there. I like to say that it's like Photoshop and Canva had a baby.
And the best part is that non-designers don't have to dive into the advanced features in Easil if they don't need them. Designers can use those features to create templates, lock-down templates and make it super easy for the non-designer team members to use them for their projects.
6. Organise Designs in Team Folders + Tag Designs
Easil Plus allows you to organise designs in folders and add design tagging, so you can easily find your designs whenever you need them.
How much does Easil Plus Cost?
Easil Plus is $7.50 USD per user per month. As such, it's one of the most affordable visual design tools for teams. Find out more about pricing here and do a 30 day trial on Plus on me!
Easil Plus has awesome team features (including the other features you get with the tool on Easil Plus) and a lot of great features as a design tool in general. It definitely ticks my boxes for inclusion on this post, with the bonus of:
- Brand Locking – Brand Locking and Permissions on designs and templates for your team is seriously a game-changer. Especially when it comes to protecting your brand and ensuring efficient use of designs within your team. I haven't used any other DIY Visual Design tool that allows this level of control and functionality so this alone makes the tool worth the investment.
- Brand Imagery – Having brand images as part of the Brand Kit is a huge bonus and saves so much time. It's also super important to make sure your team only uses approved brand images, licensed stock photos for certain purposes and the latest trademarked content.
- More Designer-Friendly – Designers can design from scratch more easily with Adobe-like features like Layers. It makes it way easier to design templates. The team at Easil are also more than happy to provide Design assistance for custom elements that will work optimally in Easil in templates and designs.
Here are a couple of things that you won't find in Easil's Plus Plan that I'd add to the wishlist:
- Commenting – although you can easily collaborate on designs, it would be great to allow commenting on designs like the other tools mentioned in this post. This can be really helpful in the early stages of any project before designs are signed-off on and added as templates.
- Mobile App – This is apparently on the roadmap for Easil but at the moment it's desktop only. Personally, I like to design on a desktop. I only really finish off or access posts for sites like Instagram via mobile. However, I know that many people in my community like to do a lot of design on mobile, so the choice of a mobile app functionality would be a wishlist item.
- Invite Free Team Members – I like the idea of being able to invite free team members so this would be handy. Of course, they wouldn't get the full “Plus” experience of locking, Brand Kit etc, but it is handy for sharing designs with clients and co-workers on projects that are not in your team. You can currently add Free Team Members on to your trial but I recommend you reach out to the Easil team if you need assistance with trialling and adding a team, as they are quite responsive.
Easil is a solid tool that keeps getting better. If you're looking at Design Tools for Teams you'd be crazy not to check out Easil Plus.
3. Over Teams
Over has just hit my radar as one of these Visual Design Tools for Teams. I wrote about Over here in this post and I have loved their mobile app for many years now. Over's templates and artwork (design assets) are stunning.
Over is a mobile-only design tool (though I hear a desktop version is coming). But the kicker is this Teams feature:
I haven't had a chance to have a play with this for very long so I will update here as I do, but I wanted to add this as an extra option for you to check out. Especially if you are a gun-ho, card-carrying mobile devotee working with other mobile devotees. Over Teams could be for you!
Here are a few of the Over Teams features that I like in Over:
1. Add Team Members (Unlimited)
One bonus of Over is that it's just one plan for your entire team – you don't have to pay for each individual seat. Team Subscriptions cost $59.99 per month with the ability to add as many team members as you like to your one team.
Once you have a few members, this is quite economical. And all team members get access to Over Pro, which is usually $99.99 per user per year – so you get access to all the Over templates, artist packs (designs, icons and illustrations) and full feature set.
2. Keep Branding Consistent with Brand Assets
With Over Teams you can keep all your brand assets in one shareable folder – so they are easy to access and you can be more efficient.
Like its desktop cousins above, you can also upload your own logos, import custom fonts, and save color palettes in Over Teams. This gives your whole team access to the correct branding … on the go!
3. Collaborate and Comment on Designs
As with Canva, you can collaborate and comment on your designs as a team. You can make comments and edits in real-time!
Team members can collaborate on projects, make comments and get instant feedback – all on mobile. It's also handy for working with multiple clients through one central mobile workspace.
4. Convert Designs to Team Templates
With Over Teams you can create shareable branded templates that your whole team can use. You can tap into the full library of Over's templates to edit and make your own, using brand assets that you load up into Over.
5. It's Mobile!
If you love working on mobile then Over is the bees-knees of mobile design tools. It allows you to work from anywhere and communicate from your team on the go. Your team also gets access to the full functionality of Over Pro:
6. Create and Share in One Place
With Over Teams you can create and share in one place. You can organise your projects, brand assets and ideas into shareable folders and then plan your posts in advance as a team, using Over's Scheduling tool.
How much does Over Teams Cost?
Over Teams is one payment for your entire team – $59.99 and then you can add as many team members as you want. All team members get access to Over Pro (usually $99.99 per user per year) which gives you access to all Over templates, artist packs (designs, icons and illustrations) and the full Over feature set.
Over Teams has a lot of great functionality with its team features for dedicated mobile users (including the other features you get with the tool on Over Pro) – and a lot of great features as a design tool in general. I'm still checking it out, but so far it's looking like a small but mighty contender if you work mainly on mobile as a team. Some Pros for Over Teams:
- It's Mobile – it's the only one of the three tools I have listed that is mobile from the ground up – designed for mobile and that is definitely a Pro if you work mainly on mobile devices.
- Ability to Schedule Posts – you can schedule your posts which is handy if your team does not have a dedicated social media management tool.
- Ability to Comment on Designs – this is huge for collaboration with team members or clients on the go.
Here are a couple of things for the Over Teams Wishlist:
- Design Locking. From what I can see there isn't any design locking functionality (not that I expected it at mobile-level, but a girl can dream).
- Desktop Version – I'm probably stating the obvious here but some of us like designing on desktop too, so I would love to see the awesome templates and designs of Over to come to desktop too. I hear that it may be on the roadmap so I am watching closely!
Wow! That's a lot of AWESOME for teams right there. We've come a long way from pixellated Clip-Art being the only option for non-designers. These three visual design tools for teams should make any designer working with teams (and non-designers working in teams) super happy!
Love these Visual Design Tools for Teams?
Are you using Visual Design Tools for Teams yet? What feature would you look for in a tool for a team working on visual content?
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