Comparing and contrasting the two remote collaboration tools
In light of current events—including the recent tornado in Nashville and the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic—the redpepper team, like businesses across the globe, has had to make some adjustments to how we do work. Working remotely has required us to find new ways to stay connected. But the good news is that we are collaborators at heart, and that hasn’t changed since we’ve left the office.
Workshops play a huge role in the way we approach a project and the way we develop relationships with our clients. These workshops rely heavily on in-person interaction and being able to collaborate with clients to gather insights to best address their needs. Visualizing ideas, strategies and long-term goals is key to setting the stage for a successful project. Obviously, given our transition to remote work, in-person workshops have been put on hold, but we did not want to lose the magic that workshops create.
The largest hurdle in this transition is finding a platform that displays visual elements of our workshops like the trusty whiteboard and sticky notes. Enter: MURAL and Miro. They are both effective tools to do this, so we put them both to the test. Here’s our overview so that you can decide which works better for your remote collaboration needs:
The reality is that both tools are very similar, and you can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose. The online capabilities of each platform are truly impressive. On both Miro and MURAL, you can type ideas on digital sticky notes, cluster them, vote for ideas, and run timers. Each has limitless white space that you can structure through frames, which are essentially slides. This allows facilitators of online workshops to frame content for participants, and the limitless working space gives users the ability to move from idea generation to idea development quickly. At redpepper, we’ve utilized the framing tool as a replacement for slide decks, so we do not have to switch through various presentation applications.
For online workshops specifically, MURAL allows facilitators to adjust their own screen to lead participants to a certain part of the whitespace. On Miro, facilitators don’t have the same capability. Instead, users themselves have to move the board to the facilitator’s location, making it hard to know what participants are looking at on the board. However, Miro has a screen sharing mode that can make up for this difference. It functions much like the screensharing you’re used to on Zoom and other conferencing apps.
In terms of ease of use, it truly depends on user preference. While MURAL’s design is more simplistic, if you are looking for quick access to tools, you’ll want to go with Miro.
Both apps allow you create your own templates. At redpepper, we already have workshop templates we love—like our empathy map or user journey—so, we simply upload those templates to the boards. Once uploaded, you can put digital sticky notes on it, just as you would in a typical workshop. Except this time, it’s impossible for them to fall off the whiteboard.
While both applications have templates that make workshop planning a bit easier, MURAL’s templates are much more simple. Miro’s templates come with helper text and facilitator tips that make them more complicated. So, if you’re looking for simplicity and speed, use MURAL, and if you’re looking for help planning workshops, use Miro.
At redpepper, we have found Miro’s unique video chat application to be one of the largest differentiators between the two platforms. As mentioned earlier, we’re all about face-to-face interaction. Miro’s video chat feature helps to solve for this by allowing users to collaborate on a board while seeing each other’s faces. This makes the workshop or meeting more personable. Currently, MURAL does not have a similar tool.
However, right now, Miro’s video chat feature can’t handle more than a few participants at a time. So, although it seems promising, it does not completely address one of our largest hurdles. Additionally, it does not have breakout room capabilities, so, as a facilitator, you don’t have the ability to split participants into groups. At redpepper, we’ve been using Zoom’s screen share feature and breakout rooms as supplementary tools that give us the ability to see each other, while collaborating as a team.
Apps & Integrations
The biggest difference between Miro and MURAL is the number of integrations each app provides. Both platforms have apps that allow for integration into your workflow, but Miro has a lot more of these integrations. For example, redpepper has found Miro’s iFrame tool and webpage capture to be particularly helpful. With the iFrame capabilities, the user can upload YouTube videos or Keynote presentations directly to the collaborative board. The webpage capture allows the user to directly import complete web pages onto the board simply by inputting the URL when prompted. Miro also has an open API, meaning developers can craft their own apps to integrate with Miro. While MURAL does not have all of these integrations, its website does ask for feedback on potential capabilities and apps.
Both products are effective tools that serve most of your basic online collaboration needs. However, if you’re looking for the “smarter” of the two apps, Miro definitely has a wider range of integrations. At redpepper, we have found Miro’s unique video chat application and broad integrations to be particularly helpful. However, if you want a simple, clean, easy to understand collaboration tool, MURAL has that covered.
Both tools include a long trial period and a helpful customer service team to enable you to assess what will work best for your team. And remember, oftentimes the success of a tool does not depend on the tool itself, but on how well it is applied.
We’ve also outlined the capabilities of both tools below: