Notion is a delightfully different app: part note-taking app and part task management tool, it combines the best of both types of programs to create something unique. As you can read in this full Notion app review, it’s the good kind of unique, too, the kind that pushes boundaries you didn’t even know needed to be pushed.
- Notion combines a note-taking tool with a productivity app and does a fine job of it. However, it lacks some advanced functionality, making it less useful for larger teams.
- The combination of task management with wikis and notes makes Notion ideal for writers, graphic designers and other creatives, as well as marketers and the like.
- Notion is free for one person, making it a great choice for freelancers who need to keep track of tasks and take notes at the same time.
Notion does something very few hybrid solutions manage to do: it’s good at both the things it combines. It’s better than most of the best note-taking apps out there, while also giving many of the best project management tools a run for their money. However, it does this at the cost of more advanced features.
Because of this, Notion isn’t a full fledged project management software, but more of a task manager. If you’re running a large team and several projects, you’re much better off checking out Notion alternatives monday.com or Asana. That said, Notion still gets a surprising amount done, so stick around for our full review or give it a spin yourself.
Notion is a good note-taking app and a good task management app, though it’s missing some advanced features from both.
Notion is great for basic task management, so think freelancers and small teams that are doing something that requires a lot of text or wikis.
Depends on what you’re using it for, but overall we like Notion better than Evernote because it has smoother navigation.
Notion has an excellent free plan for one user that contains all the features. Teams will need to upgrade.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Great note-taking
- Keeps good track of tasks
- Very easy to use
- Great pricing
- Lacks advanced features
- Can’t keep track of multiple projects
- Some security issues
Notion offers a basic yet solid number of features that should have you planning sets of tasks with relative ease. As we mentioned in the introduction, it lacks some advanced project management functionality, but what it does, it does well. In this section, we’ll see what exactly that is when it comes to both project planning and taking notes.
Notion as a Note-Taking App
Notion organizes everything into two workspaces (one collaborative and one personal), with each Notion workspace containing what are called “pages.” It’s more or less like a wiki, with the ability to interlink pages and nest pages within pages. All the pages are accessible from the sidebar and can fold and unfold as you please.
We’ll talk a little more about this in our user experience section below, but — spoiler alert — it gets high marks for the speed and ease of navigation.
Just because they’re called “pages” doesn’t mean all you can do is write on them. Each page is made up of blocks, and blocks can be just about anything; it’s reminiscent of the recent WordPress update. Besides adding plain text, you can put in a to-do list, set reminders, make calculations and pretty much everything else the more advanced note-taking apps can.
Notion also has a web clipper, much like OneNote or Evernote have, which is really handy when you’re surfing the internet taking notes. In the case of this reviewer, the web clipper is mostly used to make lists of interesting books that will most likely remain unread, but you may actually do something useful with it.
However, what raises Notion above even the better note-taking apps is how much smoother it works. You can write quickly and easily, and interlink pages with a minimum of fuss. It’s more like Google Docs than Google Keep in that you can create entire documents, synced in the cloud, and then link them directly into your project management tool, no fussing required.
Notion as Project Management Software
That brings us to Notion’s task management features, which are put into pages as blocks. Instead of, say, a text block, you can plug in a calendar, a timeline or even a kanban board. It works surprisingly well, with the option of either adding the element inline (meaning you can write above or under it), or creating a dedicated page.
Notion features all the mainstays of project management; you can use the above table for a quick overview. It’s a little reminiscent of Wrike here (read our Wrike review), except that there’s no accompanying list and the table is more interactive, which is good. There’s also a calendar, which helps you track tasks — that’s more than Trello offers (read our Trello review).
Notion App Review: Task-Tracking
The most solid project management tool at your disposal will be the kanban board. While it won’t be winning our best kanban tool prize any time soon, it does a decent job and you can link directly to other pages, which is handy. If you’re feeling crafty, you could maybe even turn it into a scrum board, but that seems a bit silly when there are so many better free tools out there.
Last but not least is the timeline view, which we like, but it lacks the pizzazz of monday.com’s or Asana’s timeline. It will help you keep track of how different tasks will affect each other, but it lacks the more powerful options of Gantt charts, like setting dependencies, which limits its usefulness. For that, check out our TeamGantt review.
Notion offers little else, really. While all the above is more than enough for a small firm of creatives and probably more than enough for freelancers, a larger business will quickly run into the limits of the app. As much as we like Notion, we can’t give it more than a middling score, here.
Notion App Features Overview
- Kanban board
- Timeline: No
- Spreadsheet view: No
- Gantt charts: No
- Workload planning: No
- Long-term planning: No
- Multiple project management: No
- Dependency management: No
- Native scrum management: No
- Set user permissions
- File storage
- Time-tracking: No
- Built-in integrations: No
- Reporting features: No
- Free plan
- Free Trial
- Web app
- Ticket-based support
- Live chat: No
- Phone support: No
Overall, we like the way Notion prices its plans. Unlike most of the software in our project management reviews, Notion doesn’t cordon off specific features depending on which plan you subscribe to. Instead, it offers everything from the get-go and limits the number of users and guests based on your plan. Let’s see how that looks in a table.
- 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
As you can see, roughly speaking there are two kinds of plans Notion offers, for individuals and for companies. Usability is pretty much the same across all plans (though the free version spares Notion’s bandwidth a bit), with the Team plan only adding unlimited users and collaboration features, and the Enterprise plan offering advanced security and control.
The free version ranks among the best free project management software, though a little toward the lower end of the scale as the features are a bit light when compared to, say, Jira and Wrike. Still, though, most freelancers — especially writers, marketers and even graphical types — will be able to get a whole lot done with it.
We’re not exactly sure who the Personal Pro plan is aimed at, as the added functionality could instead be handled by integrating a few third-party apps like Google Docs, though removing the upload cap will come in handy. At the same time, $4 per month annually is a nice way to say thank you to Notion Labs, the company behind the app.
Notion Team Plan
The advantages of the Team plan speak for themselves: it’s the only way to get all your team members on the same page (we’ll show ourselves out), so it’s a must if you want to use Notion with more than just yourself for company. The price of $8 per user per month when paying annually is pretty decent. Only nTask and Jira are cheaper among the big names (read all about Jira pricing).
When compared to monday.com pricing or Asana pricing, it’s still a decent deal, though their intermediate plans may offer a bit more than Notion in the form of specific functions. Examples include Gantt charts and dashboards that help you manage multiple projects. Still, though, Notion is a few bucks cheaper per user per month here, so it evens out a bit.
As for the Enterprise plan, we reached out to support and were quoted — and we really need to stress how provisional this number is — $25 per member (Notion’s nomenclature) per month, or $240 per year. That’s a big jump, but it might be worth it for the advanced features.
When you first open up Notion, you’re going to be a little weirded out, especially if you’ve been using project management software like monday.com (read our monday.com review). This is because Notion has form-follow function, and you get to pick the function.
However, the “getting started” page will get you over any learning curve within minutes, and you’ll have a decent grasp of what Notion can do and how it does it. While Notion is a decent productivity app, it works a lot like a note-taking tool in that there’s less clicking and more typing. For example, all blocks can be added using hotkeys, which is great for keyboard ninjas.
When you install a task management block, it reverts to a more standard method of use, with clicking and dragging. We like how Notion has made this work — dragging and dropping cards in the kanban board feels smooth and you can create new tasks with just a single click of a button.
The philosophy behind Notion clearly was to keep things simple, and nowhere is this more apparent than its interface. Though the hotkeys and more note-based approach may take some getting used to for some, overall, we really like how Notion handles.
Notion Mobile App
This extends to the mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android (we tested it on Android). Like most task managers, it struggles to fit all of its functions onto the much smaller screen — the kanban view is nearly useless, for example. The calendar fits just fine, though, and you can keep decent notes on it.
Altogether, Notion is easy to use and offers no real learning curve. Switching between pages and views is smooth, and if you want to create new tasks all you need to do is click a single button. All this gives it a good score in this section, on par with one of our favorites in this regard, nTask (read our nTask review).
Security & Privacy
When it comes to security and privacy, we like how transparent Notion is. Too often we’ve come across terse or poorly worded policy pages (looking at you, Atlassian — read our Jira review for more on that), but Notion is just a breath of fresh air.
Is the Notion App Safe?
Notion’s security has a few issues, though. The basics are solid: it uses the TLS protocol for sending data, and at-rest data is encrypted using AES-256. However, it uses AWS (read our what is AWS guide for more info) for hosting files, which is fine in most cases but comes with the usual footnote of leaky buckets. It probably won’t be an issue, but it’s good to know in advance.
However, what costs Notion a few points here is that it doesn’t provide two-factor authentication — a second check that you are who you say you are using your phone or email. This is a pretty serious flaw, one that the developers are working to fix, but until then we recommend not storing anything overly sensitive with Notion.
Notion has one of the more extensive knowledgebases we’ve seen, all using its very own wiki structure. This means that looking up how Notion works is also an exercise in getting to know it, which is pretty neat. We had little trouble getting around in the wiki, so high marks for Notion here.
If you do need support, you can email, chat and Tweet at Notion staff. For us, replies were pretty fast and thorough, so we doubt you’ll ever have any real issues coming to grips with the software.
Overall, we really like Notion. It’s a great fit for freelancers and any small business, especially if they need a wiki or lots of documents. It’s almost as functional as Google Docs, with the added benefit of better organization and interlinking. Its task tracking is pretty good, though extremely basic, but small groups of people should be fine with it.
However, for anybody looking for a full project management solution, Notion won’t cut the mustard. It just wasn’t designed that way. You could integrate it into a more robust suite like monday.com or nTask if you want to use its text-writing abilities, though, and get the best of both worlds.
What do you think of Notion? The answer to all your problems or a headache best avoided? Let us know in the comments below, along with any other questions or suggestions. As always, thank you for reading.