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Friday, January 24, 2014

Useful Design Tools: Google Drive

'What?' You might say. 'Design tool? Google Drive doesn't have anything to do with design as we know it!'. And in a way, you'd be right. Drive has a drawing tool but I haven't found much use for it yet. And then there's all the little add-ons like Conceptboard or Mind Map but I still prefer a good ol' fashion spreadsheet most of the time.

But you want to know what I encountered? While freelancing with a very small company recently, I was bombarded by their awesome use of Drive. It was a real 'duh' moment for me. Of course! Why not use Drive to store everything! As the day went on, it started to look more and more like an asset library and I was finding myself getting more and more excited about the possibilities.

The Cloud. Que the ooh and aahs surrounding this buzz word. But seriously folks, it has the potential to be a powerful tool. In my mind, small companies and individuals stand to gain the most from these tools. Obviously one of the best things about Drive is that it's free. There's Dropbox and other tools like it but none of them have all the other features that Drive has, at least not for free. And there stands another great thing about Drive - it's a tool box.

Remember way back when it was just Google Docs and it was goofy sometimes and didn't always work as awesomely as we all might have hoped. All you could do was upload other doc or excel type formats and pray the formatted properly. Then things just kept evolving until WHAM they made it a 'drive'. Now I can create a document, spreadsheet, form, presentation, or basic drawing, the formatting actually works, add people to it for editing or viewing only, and create folders to organize all this stuff in. THEN I can add any kind of file, regardless of Drive's ability to read it (yet!) and organize that into these folders and subfolders for these same people to use.

Amazing, I know. In case you're still confused at all about the awesome power of this setup with regards to a small company or individual, let me further explain that gig I mentioned earlier. Only two of us were there, the editor and myself as the designer. It was a small newspaper style publication, about 30 pages. There were no servers, no company emails with huge file size capabilities, no giant backup drives to pull files from. I assumed the worst - going back and forth with usb's or something similar. But no, the editor began sending me all the files I would need via Gmail and Drive. It was like magic. And as I finished a round of changes for her to review, she'd make her own changes on that version for me to add in while I moved forward with other changes on other pages. It was like magic. We were a model of efficiency. And I knew that if something happened to those computers, we would have the last round of changes saved via Drive. Being a freelancer who has often worked without a backup drive, I cannot tell you how comforting that was.

I'd love to hear what other folks have to say about Drive so please leave a comment. I'm going to go dive into the forums now to see what others have to say about this so there might be some edits or second post on this later. For now, this is just my experience and understanding of Drive and how it can relate to workflow efficiency. Can't wait to use it with the next client!

with love- M

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