If you’re a graphic designer who works with other team members on projects, you probably know the pain of keeping them up to date with revisions and updated files. Whether it be in Photoshop, Fireworks or other creative applications, there aren’t any easy ways to share realtime updates and files with your teammates, until now.
In this article, we will be showing you a cool new web app which goes by the name ‘LayerVault’. LayerVault allows you to easily share your progress and other information with your teammates and clients. Your team members can enjoy realtime viewing of revisions via the web app and can keep their own files updated seamlessly with whatever creative application they may be using.
So What Is LayerVault, Anyway?
LayerVault is a relatively new service which gives designers a way to store and collaborate on design projects. LayerVault offers unlimited storage for PSDs, PDFs and other file formats so you always have up-to-date projects whether you’re on your MacBook, iMac or other Mac. I say Mac because LayerVault is currently only available for designers who use Mac OS X, making it unusable for some.
The Mac App
The Mac App is actually pretty simple. When you install it, it will ask to create a folder on your Mac. The folder will be accessible through your Mac’s Home folder as well as through the Finder sidebar. You can create subfolders within this folder to create new projects on LayerVault–we will go over this concept later on in the article. You can then drop compatible files into these subfolders so they can be viewed online. If you drop a file directly into the LayerVault folder (not a subfolder), the file will be added to your “Limbo”, which is a place for stray files.
Personally, I really like how the Mac works because of how quick and easy everything is. Like Dropbox, I can simply drop a file into my LayerVault folder and I know it will be sent to my LayerVault account on the web and accessible everywhere on the web.
The Web App
Now for the web portion of LayerVault. We will first be going over the end of the site in which you can organize your projects. When you first sign into your account you will be taken to a page where you can view all of your projects. You can also view a timeline on the righthand side of the page and create a new project by clicking on the “+ Project” button on the upper righthand corner of the screen. If you have any files in your “limbo” they will appear under the projects column. I really like how well designed and intuitive the designer end of LayerVault is. Not only is it easy on the eyes, it’s very simple to use as there aren’t any hidden features.
When you click on a project’s tile you will notice that a pop-up menu appears. This menu allows you to open and color code the project as well as the ability to add a member to the project. When you add a member to the project, you give them access to download the project’s files and view them on LayerVault’s website. Personally, I really like how easy it is to add a member to your project, as all you need to do to add someone is provide his or her email address. Once the new member receives the email, he/she will be prompted to create a free account to interact with your project.
Once you’ve added a team member to your project, what can they do? A lot of things. For instance, your team member can view your project status and even identity the hexadecimal color of a specific part of the project without leaving the web page. Other cool features include the ability to measure parts of a project and highlight parts of the project to search for changes.
So while the designer’s end of LayerVault may look and perform well, what about the client end? After all, your client matters most so you want LayerVault to be easy to use and look nice. For one, I believe that you and your client will be impressed not only with the interface but the functionality of LayerVault. In order to share a project with a client, you need to make your project public. This can be done with the click of a button when viewing your project on LayerVault’s website. Once your project is public, your client can view and download it by simply opening the link you send to him or her.
Service Plans and Pricing
Now for the fun part: pricing! LayerVault is actually pretty reasonable as it helps you make money with your graphic design skills. As of now, LayerVault has three different plans: Freelancer, Small Team and Big Team. These plans all include unlimited cloud storage for your projects but vary in the amount of members you can add to a project, the level of customer support you receive, and how many shared projects you can create.
The ‘Freelancer’ plan is perfect for what the name suggests: a freelance graphic designer. This plan includes three shared projects and one team member. This plan costs $19 per month.
‘Small Team’ is great for a small design firm that wants to easily share projects. This plan includes phone support as well as up to 10 shared projects and 3 team members. This plan will run you $60 per month.
And now for the ‘Big Team’. This plan includes 30 shared projects and 8 team members as well as phone support. This plan is pretty expensive at $199 per month but is definitely worth the cost for medium sized design firms who need tons of cloud storage for their projects. If you need more team members or shared projects than is offered with this plan, LayerVault will work with you to create the perfect package for your company.
All in all, I think that LayerVault is perfect for anyone who does a lot of client work in Photoshop, Fireworks or other creative applications. Whether you’re on a big team or are just working with a friend, LayerVault is sure to fit your needs because of its seamless updating of files and unlimited storage. If you’ve used LayerVault in the past or are using it now, let us know how you like it in the comments below this post.