Designers are among the most independent and self-starting of all creative professionals, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need good project management software. The ability to keep a project organized can be the difference between a great designer and one who’s merely good. That’s why our experts have gathered a list of the best project management software for designers.
As designers, you may have a lot of complex projects going on at once. Managing all of that can be overwhelming and time consuming. That’s where project management software comes in. It helps you keep track of multiple projects while giving you the option to delegate different tasks to different people, monitor your progress and stay organized.
- The design process can be very fluid, with projects being started and stopped for a variety of reasons. This can cause confusion about work that’s in progress and what phase it’s in at any given moment.
- Many designers have turned to project management tools as a way to better manage their workflow and organize their business. It helps keep track of the jobs and projects they’ve taken on.
- While the best programs are all-encompassing and capable of managing every aspect of a project from start to finish, there are some that focus on specific areas (like collaboration) or are suitable for certain types of projects (like web design).
- Some designers choose to go the free route and use free plans of Asana and Trello, while others choose the paid services and purchase software like Basecamp, Wrike or monday.com. The best for you depends on your specific needs.
With so many options out there, it can be hard to choose the one that’s right for you. Don’t worry — after reviewing dozens of project management tools, we’ve put together a list of the top eight you can get started with today. monday.com takes the top spot, but there are plenty of options here to choose from. Check out our best project management software roundup for a broader look at our experts’ favorites.
Project management is a methodology for project planning, scheduling and managing complex projects. In other words, it’s a system for keeping track of what needs to happen and when it needs to happen — and making sure that everything gets done by the deadline.
monday.com is our top recommendation for designers looking to manage their projects and client work. It has a wide range of use cases for designers managing a variety of projects.
Designers often use project management software to create plans for their projects. This software allows them to accurately estimate time and cost for each project, manage multiple teams by giving each member an overview of the entire project at once and communicate with clients directly.
Best PM Software for Designers
What Makes the Best Project Management Software for Designers?
Designers work with clients who have visions of their own, which means that the designer has to be able to understand exactly what the client wants and deliver it that way. Finding project management software that suits this purpose is the first step.
- monday.com — The best solution for all designer types
- Hive — A compact project management platform for design projects
- Wrike — Offers systematic automation features
- Asana — A task-first approach to design management
- Basecamp — Remote and all-in-one communication solution for designers
- ProofHub — Value pricing for large design teams
- Trello — Best free project management software with kanban boards
- Notion – Project management app best for creative projects
The first thing our experts look for in project management software for designers is that it provides great organization tools. The designer needs to be able to lay out all their materials in a way that lets them move everything around per the needs of the client. The designer also needs to be able to see every single change as it happens.
It should also allow for collaboration between people who don’t work at the same physical location. The software must be able to separate projects into accounts for each client so that you can keep track of multiple projects as well. Design projects can also have a long list of issues that need to be resolved along the way, so an issue tracker can help you monitor them all in one place.
Features like checklists and file comments are also handy. Some software allows you to assign tasks and comments to different members of your team, and even upload photos related to the checklist item from your computer or phone. They’re also useful for highlighting areas that need improvement, such as when a client asks for revisions. It’s easier for team members to see exactly what needs changing if there are comments on that specific file.
With these criteria in mind, our top five choices are monday.com, Hive, Wrike, Asana and Basecamp. They all offer different toolsets and come with paid plans for freelance designers on a budget.
The 8 Best Project Management Software for Designers
How do you choose the right kind of software for your own needs? It’s not enough to ask what everyone else is using; you have to figure out what will be most helpful in your own work environment. Here are our top recommendations for design project management software you can use today.
More details about monday.com:
- Pricing: Free plan available with up to 2 seats; Basic plan for $8 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: monday.com
- Easy to use
- Designer friendly features
- Limited free plan
- Odd progress on paid plans
monday.com’s interface is clean and simple, but the design of this service doesn’t feel overly simplistic. monday.com offers the kind of streamlined functionality a creative team needs, including different views that keep everyone synced, creative request intake forms, a collaborative approach to managing digital assets and dashboard reporting.
You can also create tasks, organize them into projects, assign them to people, set due dates, add files from your computer or the web, attach messages and even assign tasks to other people without leaving the app. It’s also the best project management scheduling software, thanks to its excellent scheduling capability.
It allows designers to work directly from the design tools they prefer (including Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop, InDesign, Acrobat DC, and more). It also offers integrations with other apps, so you can post updates in Slack or Trello right from your monday.com account, improving cross-team collaboration.
If you’re a small-scale designer working in a limited team of just two members, monday.com’s free plan might work great for you. It has a limit of three boards, a cap of 1,000 tasks and grants its free users access to the list and kanban views for management.
However, monday.com is worth scaling to the paid plans if you have more extensive design projects planned that require unlimited tasks and automations. Either way, you can give the platform’s 14-day free trial a whirl. Read our monday.com review to learn more.
- Maximum users: 2, Kanban Board, & list
- Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Basic features
- Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Expanded features
- Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Advanced features
- Enterprise-level features.
More details about Hive:
- Pricing: Free plan available for up to 2 users; Paid plans start at $12 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: hive.com
- Easy-to-use tools
- Custom template library
- Excellent teaching materials
- Expensive add-ons
- Laggy desktop application
Hive is an excellent alternative for designers looking for a feature-packed free plan. Its design and interface is pleasing and quite easy to navigate. It also offers a one-stop solution for complex processes by simplifying workflows.
Designers and project managers could make use of Hive’s form builder, which allows users to build and design various types of forms. You can also automate workflows, like generating subtasks and assigning tasks to users. Hive Notes enables teams to share ideas together and plan future projects and initiatives, too.
The Solo plan for Hive has a native messaging system to interact with other users and a built-in email client that you can connect to a Google or Microsoft account. If you want access to integrations, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid plans which offer up to five integrations (Jira, Salesforce, Zapier, Slack and Zoom.)
We all know how important the approval process is when it comes to designing. Hive makes it easy through its proofing and approvals tool, for seamless feedback on your project designs. It also allows for multi-stage designers to leave comments and annotations, and get approvals from both internal and external users.
Hive’s free plan works best for individuals and two-person teams with power-packed features like Gantt charts and kanban boards On the Solo plan, you also get access to calendar and table views. However, if you want access to native and third-party integrations, you should opt for the paid plan. You can give Hive a try for 14 days, using its free trial. Check out our Hive review for more details.
- Max 2 users; 500MB storage; Up to 10 users; Unlimited tasks; Unlimited collaborative notes; Gantt, Kanban, calendar & table views; Email in Hive; Desktop, iOS and Android apps; Native chat messaging; Custom emojis
- Price per user; Everything in “Free”; Unlimited files & storage; Unlimited workspace members; Workspace add-ons; External guest access; Shareable forms; Time tracking; In-app calendar; Cloud storage integrations; Zoom and Slack from Hive
- Everything in Teams; Flexible add-ons included; Enhanced security and permission controls; Custom analytics and reporting; Unlimited onboarding; Dedicated Customer Success Manager; Enterprise API; Access to Professional Services
More details about Wrike:
- Pricing: Free plan with 2GB storage per account; Professional plan at $9.80 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: wrike.com
- Top-notch security
- Generous free plan
- Organized automation features
- Lacks in-depth tutorials
- Steep difference between paid plans
With Wrike, you get a direct overview of all the stages of your design project. You can easily locate relevant attachments for any particular project by creating a designated folder for the same. Its easy-to-use interface also lets you rapidly communicate with your team on any new developments in your project.
With Wrike’s paid plans, you can conveniently customize your workspace to ensure quick accessibility and responsiveness for the needs of your team. You also have the ability to compare versions and changes, and track edits and suggestions in one place to optimize the skills of your team and simultaneously generate reports to track progress.
Wrike’s intuitive asset management feature allows you to systematically organize and determine the workload and capacity of your team members. You can rearrange and assign new or revision tasks when they come through, allowing for more efficient delegation.
Wrike’s free plan is a decent package for newbie designers, with a cap of 200 active tasks and 2GB storage. The paid plans are a bit costly, but you can lower the price by purchasing tools that best suit your needs à la carte. Read our Wrike review to know more.
- Unlimited users. Basic features.
- Price is per user. Plans for 5, 10 and 15 users.
- Price is per user. No monthly option. Plans for 5 to 200 users.
- Plans for 5 to an unlimited number of users.
More details about Asana:
- Pricing: Lifetime free plan for 15 members; Premium plan starts at $10.99 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: asana.com
- Generous free plan
- Versatile views
- No customer support
Asana helps you stay on top of every step throughout any creative project. As a creative project management platform, Asana focuses more on the task side of things. You can analyze the workflow of your deliverables and assign tasks based on the availability of resources to ensure on-time delivery.
What Asana lacks in customer support is made up for by its user-friendly interface. You can view your project stats in a hierarchical chart covering every aspect of the entire project and individual tasks. It’s also one of the best web project management software, alongside monday.com and ClickUp.
With Asana’s real-time tracking feature, you can get updates and make tweaks on the go. You can keep your team looped in on the constant requirement changes laid out by your client. This feature is also best suited for designers charging by the hour, as it can track billables directly from the app.
Asana’s full feature set is free for up to 15 users. If you want to operate at a higher level by integrating external tools, try out one of their paid versions. You can read our review to learn more about Asana.
- Up to 15 users
- Price is per user. unlimited users, expanded features
- Price is per user. unlimited users, even more features
- Custom pricing, advanced security features
More details about Basecamp:
- Pricing: Free trial available; $15 per month (one-month plan)
- Provider website: basecamp.com
- Bird’s-eye view of projects
- All-in-one paid plan
- Progressive communication
- Complex UI
- Feature limitations on project management
Basecamp allows you to methodically organize communication categories into the following six categories: message board, to-do list, group chat, schedule, automatic check-ins and doc & files.
With rapid commercial digitization and remote working, you can use Basecamp communication tools to effectively update ongoing changes and manage your design projects by avoiding unnecessary communication gaps. However, Basecamp offers only the basic calendar views and to-do lists; Gantt charts and kanban boards are not available.
Irrespective of where your team is working from, Basecamp allows real-time communication that lets your design team (including remote designers) stay in the loop and ensure that no crucial information is missed.
Basecamp has recently updated its pricing model. Now, it offers a flat rate pricing of $15 per user, which unlocks all of its features. Its former free plan called Basecamp Personal is no longer available. The good news is that Basecamp is currently running an offer of a limited time sign-up until the end of the year, offering three free user seats for a one-year duration.
Basecamp provides a 30-day free trial, which includes up to 1GB and 20 users. However, if you decide to pay up front for a year, you’ll get a 15% discount on Basecamp Business with no limit on the number of users.
- Per user. Unlimited projects, Unlimited users, All features. 500GB storage.
- Unlimited users. 5TB storage. Priority support.
More details about ProofHub:
- Pricing: Free trial available; paid plans starting at $45 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: proofhub.com
- Affordable pricing
- Easy to use
- Robust file-sharing options
- Limited integrations
- Minor interface problems
With ProofHub, you can create an entire workflow from addressing design requests and allocating tasks to team members to delivering to clients. It also has its own reporting tools that helps project managers with client reporting, and allows you to manage multiple projects at one go as it’s easy to assign due dates, track progress and manage tasks.
ProofHub allows users to create multiple teams within organizations so that different users can work on specific modules of ProofHub simultaneously. However, it currently offers limited integrations with other applications.
ProofHub allows users to upload files directly into the system and track versions being uploaded. This feature is especially useful for designers who have to continuously send design files back and forth while they’re working on revisions.
It also has a permission-based file sharing feature that allows users to grant approvals for specific files. Users can annotate and proof files for feedback using markup tools in specific sections such as comments and highlights.
ProofHub’s payment plans are a little unique, as the platform charges a flat rate for entire design teams instead of charging per head or per user. There is no free plan available, but you can give their 30-day free trial a whirl before committing to a subscription. Learn more about ProofHub in our review.
- 40 projects, Unlimited users, 15GB storage
- Unlimited projects, Unlimited Users, 100GB storage, Advanced features
More details about Trello:
- Pricing: Free plan available with a file-size cap of 10MB; Standard plan at $5 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: trello.com
- Best kanban board tool
- Impressive free plan
- Heavily reliant on integrations
- UI could be improved
Trello is an excellent choice for design teams because it provides an intuitive and visual interface for collaborating on projects. By creating boards to organize your tasks, you can easily see the status of each project, who’s working on what and what the next step is in the process.
Trello makes it easy to prioritize tasks by combining to-do lists with a drag-and-drop interface. You can also assign small details like color-coding different cards, setting due dates and using checklists to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. You can keep records of conversations, which is useful for reference later if you need to explain why a decision was made.
The only drawback with Trello is that it relies heavily on kanban boards, leaving other project management areas dependent on third-party tools.
By adding due dates to your tasks and moving them across the timeline as they are accomplished, you can easily visualize the progress of your project at any given moment. Views and preloaded templates like “design sprint” and “design huddle” can help design teams make use of Trello’s features.
Trello’s kanban board–focused design offers you unlimited file storage, with a limit of 10MB per file. Third-party integrations can also be added with the free plan. However, the Standard and Premium plans raise the workspace command numbers and file-size cap, making it great for medium to large teams.
You can use the 14-day free trial to make use of all its advanced features to see if this design management software is for your team. Check our in depth Trello review for more insight.
- Unlimited users, 10 boards, Unlimited power-ups, Unlimited storage
- Price is per user, Unlimited boards, Custom fields, Invite guests
- Price is per user, Several new views
More details about Notion:
- Pricing: Free plan available; paid plans starting at $8 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: notion.so
- Ideal for graphic designers
- Note-taking is very good
- Affordable pricing
- Tracking multiple projects is difficult
- No task & PM features
Notion is easy to learn, and can be used by a team of people working together in the same space or a team of people working remotely. The interface is very streamlined and simple. You can drag and drop sections to rearrange them and move pages around to organize your thoughts.
Notion works as a documentation system that transforms notes into clear action. For design teams, it can increase transparency, effective collaboration and consistent quality through its centralized documentation process
In a way, it’s a wiki for designers, as everything relevant to a particular project is housed within a single place. You can also split the same information in several ways to view projects by designer or in chronological order of what’s launching this week, for example.
All features of Notion are available in the free plan, making it a great choice for individuals and freelancers. Paid plans improve on this by removing the user limit, making an ideal project management software for medium- to large-sized design agencies. Read our full review on Notion for more thoughts.
- 1 user only, Up to five guests, 5MB file upload limit
- 1 user only, Unlimited guests, Unlimited file uploads, Version history
- Unlimited users, Unlocks workspace, User permission settings
- Advanced security features
Now that we’ve dissected the main features of the most popular project management software options for designers, you should have a good idea which one is right for you.
If you’re looking for a simple way to organize your workflow or if you need a system that’s flexible enough to accommodate your company’s unique needs, monday.com, Asana or Trello may be perfect for you. These are the best project management software for Windows and project management software for Mac. Regardless of your go-to operating system, they will work just fine.
If staying focused on communication is important to you, and if you need to focus on Agile delivery, a combination of Basecamp and Notion may work better.
If you’re finding it difficult to prioritize critical projects and can’t decide which ones to put on the back burner, pick monday.com — our best project portfolio management software.
Either way, it’s clear that there are many ways to get things done through the use of software. We encourage you to leave a comment below with your favorites. What program do you use? Are there any that we didn’t mention? Until then, happy designing!