Whether it’s a design firm sharing thoughts on a logo design, a photographer and retoucher reviewing notes on a beauty shoot or a couple collaborating with an interior decorator on their child’s room redesign—easy, intuitive visual collaboration can be elusive for any group working together on a highly visual project. We’ve all been there—endless e-mail chains with massive attachments, cumbersome PDF mark up or project management interfaces not designed with image sharing in mind.
On the surface what might be written off as minor nuisances can add up to costly project delays, miscommunication or lost critical feedback. Easy, effective collaboration is one of the most frequently cited project challenges for creative teams.
That’s where Marqueed comes in. Founded by creative husband and wife team John and Zerna Karian, Marqueed aims “To aid the creative process by simplifying the sharing and discussion of images.” How does Marqueed do this? Basically, by providing a central, secure, online location for images accessible to any collaborator with an Internet connection, along with in-application mark up and commenting tools.
As Karian described it “Marqueed is an online app that allows people to collaboratively discuss images over the web. As design and imagery play an increasingly significant role in our lives, the tools available to discuss them haven’t quite kept up. This is the gap that Marqueed aims to bridge: Simplifying the process of sharing and discussing. Marqueed is built from the ground up to be collaborative, easy to use and working hand-in-hand with the existing tools that people use like Dropbox and Google Drive.”
I took Marqueed for a quick test drive to experience it for myself and report back to our Graphicdesign.com readers. The first step was creating an account. It was painless, no lengthy registration form or account creation process required. All I needed was an e-mail address and password or an existing Facebook or Google account.
From there I was taken to my “Collections Home” screen, where I could opt to begin creating image collections or tour the sample collection which basically provides a visual “getting started” in lieu of explicit text, although there are highly visible, action-oriented prompts like “Create” throughout.
The beauty of Marqueed’s minimalist approach to UI and features is that it encourages immediate use and exploration of the application. Another benefit is that Marqueed translates well on smaller, mobile devices, loading quickly and as easily navigated on my iPad Mini as on a laptop or desktop.
Karian pointed to this as one of the ways Marqueed differs from competitors such as Concept Share, stating, “Marqueed is very simple and intuitive. Our focus is on communicating effortlessly with your collaborators and [to] provide exactly the tools you would need to do this; nothing more, nothing less. No cluttered UI or feature overload. Just simple, powerful visual communication. We love small businesses and Marqueed is priced right for small teams and freelancers. Furthermore, Concept share is Flash-based whereas we are built on the latest web technologies and require no plug-ins.”
After reviewing the sample collection I quickly created my own and began uploading images. Being an avid Dropbox user, uploading from Dropbox was the first method I tried out. But I wanted to see how all the image upload features worked. Drag ‘n drop from the desktop, direct image upload and using Marqueed’s bookmarklet to grab images from the web all worked equally well. Again, bright context-specific prompts guided me through each step (i.e. upon image upload an overlay appeared prompting me to add annotation).
Once my images were uploaded adding collaborators was a one-click process of typing in the invitees name or e-mail address and clicking the “Add People” button. Any collaborators on the collection could now and/or make annotations via the two in-application annotation tools—the freehand drawing tool that works like a pen/pencil and marquis tool that creates a rectangular frame around the selected content. As users comment or make annotations e-mail and/or in app alerts let users know when annotations have been made and comments are tracked in real time by an activity stream. The labels feature give users another way to categorize images. For example, a user might use the label “Approved” for images in a collection that have been approved.
Another area where Marqueed scores major points is pricing. The basic account is free and includes two private collections, unlimited public collections, 100 MB storage and unlimited collaborators. The Freelance level account with unlimited private collections and 2 GB of storage is available for $10 per month, Studio level with unlimited private collations and 25 GB storage costs $20 per month—making Marqueed extremely affordable for freelancers and small to mid-size design firms.
Asked, who the most common Marqueed user (i.e. graphic designer, photographer, average user, etc.) is, John Karian replied “Designers—Graphic/Interior/Fashion/Web. As Marqueed supports the discussion of PDFs and websites, we have seen adoption from non-designers that need to discuss PDF documents and images online. Take, for example, educational institutes using Marqueed to give feedback on design assignments or discussing slides in science classes.”
Plans to add even more functionality such as versioning, search for comments and labels and support of video files to its robust interface are in the pipeline. In the meantime, I’m already looking forward to using Marqueed with clients on my next creative project.