5 Tools to Keep Your Design Business Organized

5 Tools to Keep Your Design Business Organized

Design is the kind of profession that demands constant organization. Double booking clients, failure to invoice correctly, inability to track projects and a faulty system for sharing documents is just as potentially catastrophic for a novice designer as an old pro. Check out these 5 tools to keep your design business organized.

1. Dropbox


For any design business, keeping track of files across multiple designers can be a huge headache. Not to mention that backing up all of your design files can be hugely time consuming. You don’t have to worry about sharing files or backup anymore when you use Dropbox. This tool allows multiple users to save files to the cloud, which can be accessed from any computer.

Since your files are saved on the cloud, you no longer have to worry about losing your data. Dropbox also includes a desktop shortcut, which makes it feel like you’re simply saving your file in a folder on your desktop. Dropbox is also essential if multiple designers are working on the same project, because it allows everyone access, so you don’t have to email files back and forth anymore.

2. PayPal


You can’t have a design business if you can’t get paid. There are a variety of options for accommodating nearly any method of payment that your client prefers.

On the other hand, you may be a tech expert, but many of your clients could still be stuck back in the online-banking Stone Age. PayPal is an easy-to-use, reliable and secure method for making and receiving online payments.

The global ecommerce site doesn’t offer much in the way of finance-tracking bells and whistles. At the same time, if you have a client that likes PayPal, the nominal service fees may be worth it if signing up for a new online payment portal causes your client balk — or threaten to take their business elsewhere.

3. Xero


Most business owners know that tax time rolls around quarterly. Without proper planning and preparation, a new designer can find himself in a precarious financial bind every four months.

At one time there were just one or two acceptable accounting software suites for managing small businesses. Today, tech companies are focusing on this area of software development in effort to reach the growing population of contract workers. Xero Accounting is a software suite that imports bank statements and tracks cash flow, helps streamline and manage your invoicing and payroll system, offers up-to-date bill payment and reporting. Their guide to invoicing is also extremely helpful for those just starting out in the business.

Selecting the right accounting suite will free up time you spend on bookkeeping and increase your billable hours.

4. Harvest


This awesome time tracking tool allows you to seamlessly bill time to various projects throughout the day. If your designers switch from client to client several times throughout the day, Harvest allows them to simply click on a different client when they switch projects, which keeps your billing very accurate.

Harvest also allows you to send invoices from the same application. It’s very easy to use, and there’s nothing to install. This tool can help you dissolve all of your pesky billing issues easily.

5. Trello


Trello is the organized, online version of a giant task board. It’s great if you have multiple designers working on the same project, and you need to divvy up and assign tasks.

Trello allows designers to assign tasks and archive them when they have been completed, which allows everyone to visually track project progress. You can create multiple boards for various projects, and invite individuals members to each board, so people are only assigned to projects they are actively working on.

Rob Toledo lives in Seattle, Washington. He no longer supports IE7 design, worships Firefox, and wouldn’t know what to do without Instagram. He is working alongside Shutterstock photos and their stock footage brand promoting better web design. He can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo

discuss this post

(3) responses

Anthony Tabron II

February 27, 2014

Thanks for sharing. I checked out the harvest app, signed up for the free trial and so far it looks like it’s the answer to what I’ve been looking for. Thanks again for being generous with your knowledge and resources.

God Bless!


Sophia Walks

February 28, 2014

As we all may be aware of that time keeps an important aspect for the business model to run smooth and be organized in the long run approach. And to make that happen I would like to include one more tool that is meant for the time tracking and management, the cloud based time tracking solution from Replicon – http://www.replicon.com/time-tracking-softwares.aspx



April 18, 2014

I think Trello just changed my life.

I’ve definitely been struggling trying to discover the best way for me to keep my projects organized, and I’m a very visual person. I found several of the resources you posted here to be very helpful and I’m excited to see how implementing some of them simplifies and helps organize my work life.
Thank you!


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