The world of business tools and resources is big, and there are SO many softwares and programs out there for freelancers. With so many options, how do you know the best project management tools for small teams? When I first launched Southern Creative, figuring out which ones I wanted to use was a leeetle bit of an overwhelming task. But after plenty of trials (and a few errors), I’ve put together my go-to resource toolkit that keeps my business humming smoothly and efficiently. Today, I’m sharing them all!
If you’re just setting up shop – or you’ve been around for a while, but you’re looking for a more streamlined workflow – this lineup of tools is for you! And if you’re a designer, stick around until the end because I’m spilling the tea on the best project management tool for designers and the workflow that works best for me.
Curious about the best project management tools for small teams?
Even though I’m a website designer, my picks for client communication and project management can come in handy for any small team or freelancer!
Let’s begin with ClickUp, the BEST project management tool for freelancers. After experimenting with the likes of Basecamp, Trello, Asana, and Notion, ClickUp was THE one. I found that it offers the most customization options and built-in integrations for the other tools I’m already using day in and day out. There’s also a comprehensive dashboard that works like a virtual command center to track tasks, deadlines, and team collaboration.
Next up is Dubsado, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. I’ve dabbled with other CRMs, including Dubsado’s main competitor, HoneyBook. For me, Dubsado stole the show. Instead of piecemealing together availability calendars, scheduling, contracts, client questionnaires, and invoicing through different apps, you can do all of those things (and more!) with one service. Dubsado allows you to white-label everything according to your brand and customize so much of the client experience to fit your process. A couple of my personal favorite features are automated call scheduling and the opportunity to link blog posts that build brand knowledge, but Dubsado has dozens of tools you can use to streamline and level up your client experience. Dubsado is the way to go as your business grows!
Last but not least, among the tools I use daily is Slack, a channel-based messaging platform. What I love most about Slack is its flexibility—you can create internal and client-facing channels, loop team members into specific channels, and integrate tools like Loom and ClickUp. Having ALL of your conversations and communication in one place is a serious game-changer. No more digging through emails and voice memos to try and find one teensy client comment!
The best project management tool for designers
Now, let’s talk about my favorite tools for my fellow designers. Every software on this list has made a massive impact in refining my design and feedback processes with clients and made communication a breeze.
Loom is a video messaging tool that I use to share quick updates, design walk-throughs, and detailed instructions with clients. I’m always looking for ways to protect my clients’ time and keep full-on video meetings to a minimum, and Loom is the answer. Instead of presenting live, you can film a quick video that clients view at their own convenience. As a design team, we use it for presenting designs, talking clients through our thought processes, and pointing out any elements we’d like to highlight or get feedback on.
Tango takes client instructional and design collaboration to the next level. On the surface, it’s similar to Loom because you’re recording while sharing your screen. However, as you record a walkthrough, Tango captures every click and generates a step-by-step tutorial of how to do exactly what you’re demonstrating. That means less typing and troubleshooting and more showing (who doesn’t love a good show-and-tell?) I think of Tango as my client GPS that shows clients what they’ll need to do and keeps everyone on the same page.
Designer hack! If you start a Tango before you begin a Loom recording, you can double up on your efforts and provide clients with text-based and video walk-throughs!
Next, there’s Atarim, a design feedback tool that helps me collect client feedback and make design tweaks during the development stage. It’s a little like Google Docs’ commenting feature…but for website designs! So, rather than getting design feedback via audio recording or typed messages, clients comment directly on a website design to let you know what they’re thinking.
Figma is a super-robust design collaboration tool that we use for wireframing websites and page designs to help clients visualize what their final website will look like. Multiple users can simultaneously view and leave comments on Figma projects, which is so helpful for talking through the client journey and grabbing timely feedback on how a website will look and function before we move forward in the design process.
The Southern Creative Client Experience
While figuring out the best project management tools for freelancers and designers helped me stay organized and streamline my processes, figuring out how to use them was just as important. So, I wanted to share a quick overview of how we use these tools on our small team and with clients. We use Dubsado forms embedded in our website to allow clients to contact us for their initial meeting. As soon as they’ve officially booked a service, they receive an email (via Dubsado) detailing their next steps and are invited to join their project dashboard on ClickUp and Slack. Throughout the design or audit process, we maintain regular contact with clients and our team via Slack and ClickUp, sharing project updates and design drafts using tools like Loom, Tango, Figma, and Atarim. From comprehensive project management to real-time collaboration and feedback, these tools have got your back!
Wanna hear about more of my favorite tools?