If you haven’t already transitioned over to Google Docs then in my opinion it’s a must do! In case you don’t know what it is, Google Docs is very similar to Microsoft Office, except that you can edit a document online in real time with anyone else who has access to the document. For example, here at Digital Heart, we use it to work on blog ideas together (one of us will write the blog, then the other will go through, sub-edit it, and all of those changes will show).
For a small business, there are many benefits to using this tool. If your company already uses Google Apps, then the integration is quite easy. Oh and I forgot to mention that it’s free!
Perhaps you need input on a design brief from four members of your team. Instead of emailing everyone a Microsoft Word document, letting them add their thoughts, then have four people email back the same document, which means you then need to take all four responses and combine them into one document… you can just use Google Docs instead.
By using Google Docs, you can email everyone in the team a link to the Google Doc where they can add their opinions in real time, all under the same document! It’ll even show you who inputed which data. It makes life so much easier for everyone and reduces the back and forth emailing.
Here are some ways in which you can work on content with your team:
Document Editing: As soon as you open up a Google Doc, the mode is set to ‘Editing’. Which means every change you make to the text will appear on the document. However, sometimes that’s not ideal. For example, you may want to ‘suggest a change’ instead of editing someone’s work without their sign-off. For this, you can change the mode to ‘Suggestion’ so anything you edit won’t actually alter the main text. What happens is that those edits can be either accepted or denied by other collaborators.
Commenting: I’ve used commenting quite frequently when working with people. For example, when two of us were working on a business plan, we could highlight certain phrases, word, or paragraphs and leave a comment or a question.
Sharing & Restricting Access: It’s a simple process to share a Google Doc with another team member. You can also control what the person you’ve shared the doc with can do. For example, with full access they can edit everything. However, you can limit their access so they don’t have the options to make changes, but only view. This could be useful if you only want to show team members the final copy of, say, a flyer or poster, which there’s no need for them to edit.
Notifications: When there are changes to one of my documents by a team member, I like to be notified about it. For every document you make, you can receive an email notification when someone leaves a comment. You also have the option to tag people in the comments, so you can direct specific questions to them. When this happens, they’ll receive an automatic email about it.
Being Able To Edit On The Go
With the ability to seamlessly edit on the go, Google Docs is fantastic. Even if you aren’t in an area with internet, you can still edit in offline mode. I can see the offline version of Google Docs being particularly useful for any company employee who travels a lot for work. Although, who knows how long we’ll need the offline version for, as nowadays you can’t seem to escape WiFi Hotspots! Even planes have WiFi now.
Sometimes while I’m travelling, I’ll put out my phone, open up the Google Docs app and start working on whatever document I need to. You can do the same if you’re on a plane or train with a laptop. Unfortunately, as you won’t have access to the internet, it can be a struggle to do research (particularly if you’re writing a blog and need facts and figures), but still, you can at least make notes of what you need to research as soon as you’re connected!
Integration with WordPress
If you’ve managed to read many of my other blogs, you’ll have realised that I’m a big fan of WordPress content management system. It’s an extremely easy-to-use platform and is also already quite optimised for SEO. Perhaps you write articles and post content for the company blog. Well, this is where Google Docs can help.
One aspect I really like about Google Docs is that once I’ve finished my blog, I can copy and paste it straight into a draft WordPress post and it will maintain all the tags (H1, H2, H3, and so on) so the structure still looks great. This helps to save time in the editing and formatting process.
Exporting Your Document
Perhaps one of your clients/customers doesn’t use Google Docs but you’ve been creating and editing an important document on the platform. Luckily, you can export your document in a variety of formats. Also, Google has another app called Google Sheets (which is similar to Excel) that can also be exported in the following formats:
- Microsoft Word (.docx)
- OpenDocument Format (.odt)
- Rich Text Format (.rtf)
- PDF Document (.pdf)
- Plain Text (.txt)
- Web Page (.html)
For me, I usually only use Word Document and PDF format for downloading. But it’s good to know there are other options.
Google Is In The Sidebar!
One of the most painful thing I see on other people’s computers is the amount of tabs they have open. For me, when I have many tabs open, it kills my productivity as I can’t help but look at them. An issue I’ve had in the past is while I’m carrying out research for a new post, I end up opening loads of tabs.
With Google Docs, under ‘Tools’, they have a option called ‘Research’. When you click on this, it opens up google search in the right hand sidebar! Just like the normal desktop Google Search, you can be specific in what you are searching for (News, Images, etc) and not get too distracted as you may do if you open up a completely new tab. It’s easy to get lost on the internet and sucked into watching hours of YouTube videos!
If you want to streamline the way your company works together online, I highly suggest using Google docs because of all the reasons above. It takes out those unnecessary back-and-forth email communications.