Digital whiteboards are a digital representation of a typical dry-erase whiteboard. As remote work has exploded, company workforces now commonly span multiple locations, time zones and countries. This has led to a huge surge in the usefulness of digital whiteboards. The use cases include:
- User story mapping
- Sprint planning
- UI mockups
There are two key benefits of a good digital whiteboard. First, it allows free-form discussion and illustration of concepts. Not everything can be described in a document or spreadsheet. Digital whiteboards include a library of shapes and tools to create anything you could on a physical whiteboard. Shapes, lines, symbols, image uploads, text boxes, and more are a standard part of most digital whiteboard products.
The second key benefit is that digital whiteboards allow collaboration between multiple individuals–facilitating open discussion, rapid feedback, and shared understanding. Anyone who’s experienced a productive whiteboard discussion in the office will appreciate the benefit of collaboration. When a few (ideally 2-5) individuals gather around a digital whiteboard the synergy produces infinitely better outcomes than if these same individuals worked in silos on their own.
If there’s one drawback of digital whiteboards, it would be the two-edged knife of free-form communication. On the one hand, you have the aforementioned benefits. On the other, there’s often not a good way to catalog, capture, or effectively distribute the information from a digital whiteboard. In these cases, a digital whiteboard may be a great, if not critical starting point before moving the information into a specialized tool. For example, a tool like Avion for user story mapping, or LucidChart for flowcharting.