For the most part, remotely collaborating on web and email designs is hard. Back in my salad days as an email campaign manager, clients would routinely send amends and suggestions in all manner of creative and often awkward ways. Some would even print out our email designs, mark them up using multi-colored pens, then scan and email the chicken-scratched design back (in greyscale, mind). What would ultimately follow was a series of phone calls as our team tried to interpret their barely-legible requests amidst swathes of fluoro highlighter.
Thankfully, there are far more elegant, eco-friendly solutions when it comes to annotating email, such as Panic’s Coda Notes on the Mac. Not only does this sweet Safari browser extension allow you and your clients to legibly annotate designs, but it allows the results to be emailed directly from the browser window.
So how does it all work? Assuming that you and your clients use Macs and have Safari installed, simply download Coda Notes for free. Once you’ve added this extension, you will see a button with a leaf-shaped Coda icon in Safari’s toolbar.
Now, open the design that you’re reviewing within Safari, using the email’s web version link. Click on the Coda button and review away with Coda Notes’ annotation tools. Once you’re done marking up the campaign, click ‘Send Notes’. Like a postcard, the design will flip over and let you fill in the recipients’ details:
Fill the postcard in and click ‘Send Notes’ again. Coda Notes will immediately send an email to both you and your recipient with a screenshot featuring all annotations:
Coda Notes is by far the most efficient tool I’ve seen for marking up email campaigns. The truth is that you don’t usually need loads of tools to pick out typos or suggest that a new image be used in an HTML email. So for most folks, Notes’ highlighter, pen tool, eraser, text editor and oh-so-quaint sticky notes should to the trick. Plus, as everything happens within the browser, you and your clients can quickly mark up any landing pages, too.
On the downside, you can’t save your annotations online or to disk, so if you accidentally close your browser amidst it all, it’s curtains. Similarly, there’s no way to have multiple people collaborate on a round of edits, prior to it being sent on to the designer or client (unless you share a screen, of course).
The good news is that Coda Notes works in both the Mac and Windows versions of Safari. However if you’re looking for a universal, full-featured annotation tool, you might want to give Web Notes, Notable or one of these titles a try. They may not be free, but they sure will you closer to living the dream of a paperless office.
Overall, Coda Notes is intuitive and surprisingly fun to use. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the paid, web-based annotation tools out there, but it sure is the fastest way to get a round of amends into someone’s inbox. Find out more about this extension and download via Panic’s Coda Notes page.