Whiteboard sessions are great for brainstorming and planning, and we love tools like IdeaPaint that make it easy. But what do you do if you’re, say, brainstorming new product designs but your team is spread across the globe? Face-to-face isn’t an option, so how can you collaborate visually?
This is where virtual whiteboards come in. With a laptop or tablet, you can host a whiteboard session from anywhere with Internet access, and share it with just about anyone. Here are three tools worth checking out:
An iPad is practically a whiteboard already, so it’s arguably the perfect platform for hosting your session. With Jot! Whiteboard, you get a roomy blank slate and a smattering of drawing tools — everything you need to sketch and add text. The app also lets you select, move, copy, and duplicate objects you’ve added, a huge improvement over whiteboards that merely let you erase.
When you tap the Live Sharing option, you’re given the option of hosting your whiteboard in real-time. Other Jot! users can collaborate on your drawing, while visitors to JotWithMe.com can view the session (but not contribute).
Jot! Whiteboard lets you host five sessions per month, with additional blocks of five costing a whopping 99 cents. The app even supports mirroring, meaning you can see your whiteboards writ large on compatible displays.
Need a quick-and-dirty Web-based whiteboard, no software or sign-ups required? Check out Scriblink. This Java-based site immediately creates a blank whiteboard topped with a full selection of drawing and text tools.
Inviting others to join is easy: You click “Get URL” or “Email”, then share your room’s address with your desired attendees. Scriblink includes a chat area, a file-sharing option, and even a free (though not toll-free) conference-call option.
When you’re done with your session, you can save, send, or print the whiteboard. Not bad for a service that’s totally free and reasonably light on banner-ad clutter.
Like Scriblink on steroids, Twiddla serves up whiteboards with a more attractive interface, a greater variety of drawing tools, and options like password-protected sessions. Indeed, this is more than just a shared-whiteboard service; Twiddla caters to users who want full-bore online meetings, complete with conference calling, file sharing, custom URLs, and the like.
Like the other services mentioned here, Twiddla requires no downloads, registrations, or other hassles. You can fire up a whiteboard in about the time it takes to read this sentence, then share the URL with unlimited attendees — all free of charge. But there are Pro and Enterprise accounts that amp up the features, add technical support and SSL security, and so on. Twiddla Pro costs $14 per month.
Ready, Set, Brainstorm!
Here’s the bottom line: Just because your team can’t share a conference room doesn’t mean you can’t share ideas with them. Remote whiteboarding services like these make it a snap for everyone to be on the same page, both literally and figuratively.