The magic in having a process or routine is that you don’t waste energy thinking about what’s next. Set up a repeatable web design process for your design business and you’ll find that it becomes easier to give each client your best.
After you organize your business stack, its time to create client notebooks in Evernote for your projects. These notebooks will house anything and everything that you may need to reference later in regards to a client.
I use two stacks to organize my client notebooks: Current Projects and Past Projects.
Over time, designers accumulate lots of client notebooks and I find it easiest to keep the ones I’m currently working on in a separate stack.
Current Projects Stack
Every time I start a new project, I create a new notebook and title it with the client’s name. I’ve discovered that it’s better in the longterm to use my client’s name as a title opposed to the website name because after a year or two I have trouble remembering whose site is whose.
Let’s go through some of the common notes that get included in a client’s notebook:
This note houses info like WordPress and demo site logins, FTP credentials, domain registrar info, and my client’s contact information. Most of this information is collected through my project management system, Basecamp. However, I copy and paste the info into Evernote for quick access after a project has been archived there. (Even though all archived information in Basecamp is accessible!)
Once my client has completed their Design Homework, I collect all their inspiration in a single note. I place links and screenshots of sites, fonts, and color palettes they like. This gives me a chance to look for similarities and patterns in their tastes before starting the project.
Since Evernote allows you to add PDFs, I also stick in a copy of the client’s proposal and contract. These also get saved on my hard drive and to the cloud (check out my BackBlaze review!) I’m of the mindset that the more backup copies I have of important docs, the better.
If during development I use a specific tutorial or snippet of code for the site, I like to place a copy or link in their notebook for reference later. Often, I have other developers ask how I did something on a certain site and it’s nice to help out when I can.
I will also place a copy of any custom HTML sidebar widgets in the notebook as a backup. More than once this has saved me oodles of time after a client tries to change something on their own and ultimately breaks the code.
As a premium subscriber, I can load any type of file into Evernote. Zipping up a client’s design files and sticking them in a notebook is an easy way to create a backup. Since notes for premium users have a max size of 100mb, sometimes this means splitting the zip files into two (or more) chunks. But it’s well worth it to know that those files are there if I need them.
In my .Process notebook, I have a Launch Checklist that I copy and paste into each client’s notebook. As I complete each item, I check it off the list. Having a well-thought-out plan as to how you will assist your client during their launch and beyond is one of those things that will help take your business to the next level. We talk about this in more depth in The Process Hack online course.
Past Projects Stack
Once a project is complete, I move it to the Past Projects Stack. If I get a maintenance request from a client, it’s easy to pop in to their notebook and find all their information.
Tip: Check out the Evernote Guide for a tutorial on how to rearrange notebooks in your operating system.
I like to copy and paste the maintenance request from the client into a new note and title it something like “May 2015 Maintenance.” Then I create a checklist of the items that need to be completed and link this note to my monthly to-do list.
Are you excited to give client notebooks a shot? Your tasks are to:
- If you already have client notebooks, separate them into two stacks: Current and Past Projects. If not, create your first client notebook right now!
- As you work on your next project, try using my suggested system.
- Create a Launch Checklist in your .Process notebook and copy that list over to your client notebook.
- When the project is over, move the notebook to the Past Projects stack.
This is the fifth post in the Designer Guide to Evernote series.
Check back next time when we’ll talk about using Evernote Add-Ons like the Web Clipper and Skitch to save and organize the information you find on the Internet.