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Things You Should Know: 5 Skills for Getting Started with MURAL

Jim Kalbach

in essential skills, how to.

MURAL is a visual workspace to help you design together. Think of it as a large, shared wall for mapping out content and organizing your thoughts spatially.

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An example of a mural used for a team brainstorm

The MURAL experience is both playful and productive.

Teams use MURAL for all kinds of activities, including:

  • Brainstorming 
  • Planning and roadmaps
  • Product and service design
  • Research and journey mapping 
  • Teaching and presenting … and more!

MURAL is designed for you to “go with the flow.” That means helping you work quickly and intuitively. To start using MURAL like a pro, get we recommend mastering these five skills:

 

1. ZOOMING & PANNING

Murals are big -- bigger than you might realize at first. Getting oriented is important so you can make the most of all that space. Step 1 is learning to move around quickly by zooming and panning.

Let’s start with zooming. There are a few options here. The most common are:

  1. With the scroll wheel on your mouse
  2. Using the trackpad on your laptop (NOTE: If using the Chrome browser, you can pinch to zoom. Otherwise, the two finger scroll will zoom with the trackpad).

To get a sense of the scale of your mural, try this: add some content (see next section for help), and then zoom all the way in and all the out. Repeat this a few time until you feel comfortable doing it.

Avoid making elements larger to be able to read them. Instead, keep the default size of sticky notes, and zoom in to be able to read them.

Panning is also critical to getting around a mural. To pan with the mouse, click and hold background. Then move left or right. Or, use the trackpad with two fingers.

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Zooming and panning comfortably are important to get the most out of MURAL

Notice that you can see where you are in the mural in the mini-screen in the bottom right.

To find the navigation mode that suits you best, you can change your preference in Account Settings (lower left) > Controls. You have two options: Trackpad Mode or Mouse Mode.

Change navigation modes in Account Settings

You’ll be doing a lot of zooming and panning, so find the mode that works best for you - either with the mouse or with the trackpad.

 

2. ADDING CONTENT

Bring your ideas from your head to a mural. Your teammates can do the same.

You’ll find remote sessions are more dynamic and engaging when everyone can contribute. Murals are updated in real time, so as soon as you add something to a mural, others can see it.

To add content, first explore the toolbar on the left. You'll see options to add text, shapes, connectors, icons, frameworks and images. Drag any element onto the mural, and position it where you want. Use the automatic guidelines to keep things aligned.

Here’s a pro tip: double click on the background of a mural to create a sticky note without having to enter the toolbar.

You can also add images and PDF documents to your mural straight from your hard drive. Just drag a file into your mural, and drop it in place.

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Drag-and-drop content from the left-hand toolbar or from your hard drive

You can also include web links and videos. Just copy any URL, and paste it into a mural. Or, click and drag the URL into the mural. You can collect content in various formats from different sources.

Every element in a mural has its own properties. To see an element's properties, select the element and its properties will appear in a toolbar. Each element type has its own set of options.

For additional menu of options, right-click on any element. You can move elements to the foreground or background, group them together, and even lock them down. (Pro tip: locking down elements prevents anyone from moving them until you unlock them.)

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Format your content to add meaning and make it presentable

 

3. USING SHORTCUTS

Like we mentioned before, MURAL is designed for you to work quickly and intuitively. There are lots of keyboard shortcuts built in to help you work efficiently. The keyboard commands are slightly different for PCs (which use the CTRL key) than for Macs (which use the CMD key).

Fun fact: many of MURAL's shortcuts are identical to shortcuts in common design software programs, such as Adobe, so designers will feel right at home.

To open the menu of keyboard shortcuts, Press ‘?’ from inside a mural.

Some of the more common shortcuts include:

  • DELETE or BACKSPACE Deletes an element
  • CTRL or CMD + Z Undo
  • CTRL or CMD + C Copy
  • CTRL or CMD + V Paste

You can select multiple elements at once with the SHIFT key. While holding SHIFT down, drag your mouse across the elements you wish to select. You can then interact with all elements you’ve selected at once.

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Select multiple elements at once holding down the SHIFT key

 

4. COLLABORATING WITH OTHERS

The real magic of MURAL happens when you collaborate in real time. Invite others to a mural using the ‘SHARE’ button in the upper right. You can invite collaborators directly via email, or share the link to the mural.

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Share a mural with others to collaborate in real time or independently

Get your team into a mural and add content together. Everyone can contribute ideas, make edits to existing content, and give feedback.

Note: MURAL does not have built-in audio/video capabilities, so it can be helpful to use Skype or a similar conferencing software to discuss as you add content.

Good features to try include:

  • Voting, which can be found in the top left, to get a group consensus. Voting in MURAL is anonymous, and whoever begins the voting session can choose how many votes each participant gets.
  • Following a collaborator, which can be done by clicking on the collaborator's icon. You won't have to ask your teammates, "where are you?" - just click on their icon to see what they see. They can lead you around the mural, walk you through a flow, point out something specific, etc.

When you and your team can't all be in the same mural at the same time, you can add content asynchronously. Check back in on the progress your team is making and see what others contributed while you were away with the ‘News’ feature on the right. Keep the creative momentum going between face-to-face meet-ups.

Keep conversations going with comments. Add a comment to any element to spark a discussion with teammates.

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Comment on any element, and see activity others made to a mural

 

5. MANAGING MURAL

From inside a mural, go to your dashboard by clicking on the ‘Go to My Murals’ icon in the top left. From your dashboard, you will see thumbnail views of all your murals.

On the left-hand side of your dashboard, you'll see a list of Rooms. Rooms are like folders -- they are used to organize your murals. There are two types of rooms: Private Rooms and Public Rooms. Private Rooms can only be accessed by guests you explicitly invited. Public Rooms can be accessed by to everyone in a given team.

If you create a mural in a specific room, and later you realize it's relevant to another room, you can move the mural, or duplicate the mural and move the copy. This can be done by opening the menu in the upper right of each mural thumbnail.

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Example: moving a mural to another room

 

SUMMARY

To review, here are key skills for getting started:

  • Zoom and Pan Quickly
    • Find the navigation style that suits you best, either Trackpad Mode or Mouse Mode.
    • Don’t resize content to be able to see it. Instead zoom in to get the detail.
  • Add Content
    • Use the toolbar on the left for basic content.
    • Don’t forget: double clicking the mural background will add a sticky note -- it’s super fast and easy.
    • Drag images and PDFs from your hard drive into a mural
    • Copy and paste URLs to include links and videos from the web
  • Use Shortcuts
    • Press ‘?’ to see all of the keyboard commands available to you
    • Select multiple elements by holding the SHIFT key
    • CTRL/CMD+Z will undo the last action you made on a mural (there is also an "Undo" button in the upper left)
  • Collaborate with Others
    • Use the ‘Share’ link to invite others
    • Get into a mural while on a conference call to work in real time
    • Add content and comments independently when you’re not together
    • Use the voting feature to get team consensus
  • Manage MURAL
 
  • See all of your murals on the Dashboard
  • Organize murals into Rooms
  • Duplicate, move and share murals with others

 



RESOURCES

View a summary of the key skills in this presentation:

Quick guide to learning MURAL

For more information on individual features and functions, visit our support site.

You can also join our live demonstrations for a chance to ask questions live. They are held every Thursday at 12:00 EST. Sign up for free here.

Now go make cool stuff!

 

Jim Kalbach

Jim Kalbach

Jim Kalbach is a noted author, speaker, and instructor in customer experience, experience design, digital transformation, and strategy.

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