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Last updated on 5/4/20

Create documents to collaborate on content

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Unless you have a personal project, it's rare to work on a project alone. The best work often happens through collaboration. Shared documents are an excellent way to ensure the entire team is on the same page, can easily work together, and have a common point of reference. Shared documents are helpful to help streamline your workflow and increase productivity so you don't lose time digging up information in old emails or Slack messages where information is destined to get lost.

Create shared documents

Shared documents can be shared with multiple team members allowing different people to update and edit the document. GoogleDocs, Notion, Airtable, and DropboxPaper are a handful of tools that allow you to create documents that can be shared across teams. Unlike a Word document that you have to title with different versions (i.e. copydoc-v1.doc, copydoc-v2.doc), shared documents have one master that is updated. If you need to revisit something, you can also check out the document history.

Shared documents also allow for inline commenting where you can highlight sentences or sections and ask questions or provide alternative suggestions.

Andrea Drugay, a UX writer at Dropbox, wrote a Medium article on how she creates shared documents which she calls "copydocs" to organize information she shares with team members. She describes these documents as a single "source of truth" for how to handle content.

Sample formatted copy doc with different sections, screenshot and table.

Sample copydoc from Andrea Drugay's Medium article. While this is a screenshot, the document was created using Dropbox Paper.

How you want to handle documents is up to you. You'll likely develop your own approaches and techniques as you gain more experience. The Dropbox content team approach to these documents includes:

  • The name of the project

  • The owner of the document

  • Date of the last update

  • Related documents (include any links)

  • Style notes

  • Project notes

  • Screenshots

  • Table with current copy (what you have now), final copy (what you ultimately decide to use), and additional explorations (alternative ideas)

As you work through a document, you'll likely realize that a lot of what you started with really isn't necessary to achieve your end goal. If you're deleting a large chunk of text, one idea is to create a separate document of "archived ideas" where you can easily find it again should you need it. John Saito, who is also on the Dropbox content team, refers to what his colleague Kyle Decker calls "Design Graveyard" docs where he saves ideas that may have been good, just not right for the current needs in his own article on design docs.

Communicate in creative ways

Online tools are constantly evolving and improving. There is a lot of room for creativity in communication that would never have been imagined not long ago. Who would have guessed that emoji would become a tool for communication? For the Dropbox content team, using emoji can be a way for team members to cast their votes on their favorite options. Particularly as more teams are distributed, or employees work remotely, simple touches like emoji voting can make working in a shared document more fun and human.

Dropbox chart with current copy and suggested copy. Heart emoji of different colors are used to vote on favorites.

A Dropbox document where team members are assigned a different color heart emoji which they use to vote on their favorite version of the text. 

Screenshots from a content audit that use emoji to signal different emotions.

Sarah Lin of the Dropbox content teams uses emojis in a content audit to consider the user perspective as they move through an experience. 

Design and content documents are a good way to get everyone on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Let's recap!

  •  Shared documents are a helpful tool to foster collaboration and give team members a common point of reference.

  • Copy docs are one tool that can be used to organize how content will be approached on a project.

  • You can explore alternative ideas for text in these documents as a way to brainstorm possibilities.

  • Emojis can be a fun way to make documents more engaging and fun to use.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement