Asynchronous communication is an essential part of a team’s collaboration strategy today- given the remotely distributed teams working in different time zones. With the availability of numerous cloud-based tools, supporting written and recorded communication is easier and accessible for all. More and more teams are embracing asynchronous content review. Especially for their interactive digital contents – with the help of contextual and visual tools available. 

If you are building complex interactive digital content, we are here to discuss how adopting asynchronous content reviews can make your team communicate more effectively and efficiently.

What are asynchronous content reviews?

Asynchronous is a term referred to when something does not happen at the same time. An asynchronous content review, simply means that two people who are reviewing any digital content do not have to be simultaneously logged in to review or share feedback on content. It works best for scenarios where stakeholders can communicate and share feedback in their own time without needing to jump on a call right away.

Teams increasingly communicate asynchronously using messaging tools, emails, slack or teams channels, notes etc. In the case of asynchronous content reviews, that communication happens on top of the digital content being reviewed.

Google doc is a tool for asynchronous content reviews that lets stakeholders share feedback on document-based content.

comments in google docs for asynchronous content review
Comments in google docs for asynchronous content review.

Communication in a slack channel discussing a specific software functionality is a good example of communication over a few days without having to log in simultaneously.

Slack asynchronous content review
Asynchronous Content Review in Slack

Before we start on asynchronous content review, first let’s touch on some of the challenges of synchronous content review. This will give us a better understanding of the current situation.

Challenges of Synchronous Content Review

  • Time zone differences – Due to time zone differences, finding overlapping hours online becomes increasingly difficult. You may need to meet with some employees during non-working hours, especially if your company has an international workforce. This can negatively impact their work-life balance.
  • Stress and decreased productivity – When employees feel they need to reply to every form of synchronous communication they receive as soon as they receive it, they lose the uninterrupted chunks of time they need to do deep, meaningful work. Keeping in touch and responding promptly while also managing work priorities is a constant source of stress. An estimated 90 minutes per day are spent engaging in instant messaging and unnecessary productivity apps. That’s an hour and a half of lost productivity.
  • Tendency to react without reflection – We often act on emotion instead of thinking clearly about the words or tone we use. In addition, the fastest speaker may be the only one heard, leaving others whose native languages aren’t used in the team to be left unheard.

Now let’s dive into the benefits of asynchronous content reviews and how it solves these pain points.

Benefits of asynchronous content reviews

Asynchronous content reviews are often beneficial for remote teams building content at scale, but they can also benefit teams in the same office. The top reasons why asynchronous content reviews help content teams get more efficient are listed below:

Asynchronous content reviews create flexibility

Teams and especially leaders are faced with the increasing demands of being involved in numerous meetings. During meetings with multiple participants, the need to discuss every detail tends to eat into the focus time needed to work on building and evaluating content. While not all communication can be replaced by asynchronous communication, a good part of the content reviews can be done asynchronously without having to dial in at the same time.

Nonsynchronous communication is great for focused reviews

Most content reviews need focused attention to go through the entire content the same way as the user will consume it- without interruption. When content reviews are done over zoom calls or synchronous connections, the reviewer does not see the content as a user and is merely guided through it. Also, it is hard to focus on the specifics of the content by going through it at someone else’s pace.

time wasted in meetings
Time wasted in meetings - Source: Otter.ai

While some brainstorming discussions around the content can be done in synchronous meetings, managing content reviews asynchronously helps find focus. This also helps free up time for all the stakeholders involved to work at their own flexible time.

The overall value of zipBoard comes from efficiently gathering feedback from our QA team and other stakeholders. This is very important because we want to ensure quality but at the same time, if we had to collect the feedback in another way and coalesce them, this would take time and effort that zipBoard makes easy for us. So it’s very valuable.​

John Just

KnowBe4' Senior VP of Learning Innovation

Levels the playing field for the team

Reviewing creative content is hard. It becomes harder when the one reviewing isn’t the most vocal or struggles to voice out opinions in front of others. No matter how hard we try, in-person and synchronous meetings are usually dominated by the loudest and most senior voices. 

By using asynchronous discussion platforms, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, or even email, it’s easy for everyone to contribute to the discussion and be heard. Your team members who are a bit shy, who primarily speak in a second language, or who want to collect their thoughts may find asynchronous collaboration quite beneficial.

Leaves a trail for future review

Most of us keep a to-do list to keep us organized and help us remember the important stuff as time goes by. Asynchronous content reviews provide you with these same perks. 

Especially when you’re collaborating on creative content, having different versions for each file/iteration can be beneficial for the entire team. 

Asynchronous communication platforms enable a level of transparency that synchronous communication does not. Unless someone is always taking detailed notes or you’re recording every meeting and call. Decisions can be communicated easily via team messaging or project management apps. And these works are automatically recorded and archived. This provides a high level of detailed record-keeping that can be used for the analysis and optimization of workflows regularly.

Implementing asynchronous content review

There are multiple channels/platforms through which you can implement content reviews asynchronously. Certain tools are must use if you’re to collaborate asynchronously such as doc files and an online drive. But the ways to exchange this information can vary significantly. The different ways you can go about this are by either using a bunch of different mediums such as email, team messaging app, screen-share meetings, etc. Or by using a centralized review tool such as zipBoard to connect all the dots. More on that later. First, let’s touch on the different tools used for asynchronous communication.

zipBoard

Connecting all the pieces from emails, messages, tags and phone calls can be hard and challenging. How do you overcome that?

With a centralized asynchronous content review tool!

zipBoard is an all in one asynchronous content review tool. Whether you’re working on text documents, pdf, images, videos, live websites or SCORM content, you can use zipBoard to add all the content in a centralized place. Collaborating on zipBoard is as easy as it gets with each collaborator having their specific designation and with clear roles and privileges which makes online proofing convenient with no confusion.

clarified team roles on zipBoard's online proofing tool for asynchronous content review
Clarified Team Roles on zipBoard

When you add a review, you get the option of customizing the task. You can assign the task to someone, add screens, watchers (to add transparency), etc. It’s all built with the sole aim of having a worry-free asynchronous content review platform.

Adding Tasks and Issues in zipBoard for asynchronous content review
Task Manager in zipBoard for asynchronous content review

All of these contribute to creating satisfactory digital content for the clients. One of the best ways of ensuring client satisfaction is to make sure the requirements of a specification or contract are met. And this is done through the means of user acceptance testing which in engineering and its various subdisciplines is standard practice.

Email

A first-generation asynchronous communication tool, no list of asynchronous tools can be complete without email. Emails were the first mode of asynchronous communication, propagating the way for other new-age tools. However, with time and new development, this tool has fallen a bit behind as far as the asynchronous content review goes. 

More and more stakeholders are getting involved in the review process. Team members, clients, owners, managers, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders are all involved in the review process for creating content these days. And cc’ing them in each strand of a mail and then keeping up with each of their reviews is beyond hectic and cumbersome, to say the least. 

That’s before we even begin talking about visual/live web content, screen recordings, annotations or different versions of the same file. And this is where zipBoard comes in!

Slack

Slack is a team communication app and is perfect for asynchronous communication. They profess to, “eliminate off-the-clock distractions and carve out focus time.” Having used them ourselves for our daily work life, we can positively say that it builds culture, rapport, and a sense of belonging. Which can be crucial for remote teams. But more importantly, it is an apt choice for people looking to enable spontaneous collaboration in their team. 

One downside would be that it is more suited for general asynchronous communication than the content review. It also allows adding a status which comes in handy as your team can get to know your status without having to mention it explicitly.

Google Workplace

Also known as G Suite. It is a collection of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed by Google. This includes Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Calendar, and all the other tools from Google that are available to you for free via this menu.

Google Workplace tools for asynchronous content review
Google Workplace tools

There are other apps too that are behind a paywall. But the ones you’ll be needing the most for asynchronous content review is Google Doc and Drive.

Google docs are the life and blood of our company and we staunchly believe it to be true for most remote/hybrid teams in this day and age. It does a good job mimicking MS Office which makes the transition from one tool to another seamless. Google docs are apt for basic asynchronous content review as it allows one to comment, suggest and share it with multiple people as you like.

The other useful app here is Google Drive. Which is one of the best examples of asynchronous file sharing. The software lets you work on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more at your convenience at separate locations and times. Google Doc is never complete without Google Drive and vice versa.

A centralized asynchronous content review tool

zipBoard is a visual review tool that gives you a flexible, focused review environment. Providing your team with a new age markup tool that is fast and easy to use giving them a more intuitive proofing experience. Collaborate and markup on multiple digital contents, all in one project. Bringing your content review and tasks in one place.

Think of it as that tool connecting all the dots for your content development.

Collaborate Better Remotely With zipBoard

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Author’s Bio:

Bhavya is the co-founder & CEO for zipBoard. Bhavya has worked on multiple aspects of building a SAAS product from scratch. She drives the growth and development of zipBoard and leads a small team to deliver a robust and innovative collaboration solution for web developers and designers.

Gaurav is a SaaS Marketer at zipBoard. While earning his degree in CSE at KIIT, Bhubaneswar, he rediscovered his inner love for creativity as he got into his first social internship. If he isn’t busy working, you can find him around his friends/family or enjoying a good football match or a passionate discussion over it, whichever works.

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