I’m going to admit some things, they’re not crazy. I like to organize. I like things tidy. I really like to project manage and I’m obsessed with customer service. I’m weirdly terrible at sending invoices (hang on, just have to reply to all these new work inquiries from prospective clients). As someone who has freelanced for many years, I pour all of these things into my work and into the experience of working with me.

The tools you employ with clients is a balancing act. You want to make things easy and project management transparent but don’t want to be like, “hey, can you just create accounts for all these tools I use real quick?” You want to communicate, but you know your clients are also busy so communicating can easily turn over-communicating.

When you’re a solo UXD freelancer, you run the project. You are responsible for all of it; and there’s a lot. Design projects include lots of: conversations, files, feedback and tasks. Ideally everything is in one place but inevitably (and often very quickly), they are not. Email breaks down very quickly. When this happens, things are hard to find. “Oh, is this revision #6 or #7, where’s the last round of design…are these the right files I’m looking at?”

😑 You get the picture.

Enter the Project Diary

Oh my gosh, this is so simple, are you ready? The Project Diary is a list of deliverables for a design project; each deliverable includes supporting materials such as a:

  1. Link to the deliverables
  2. Link to the design tasks that came out of the design review

Deliverable Attributes

Each deliverable I include in the overall Project Diary list gets a:

  • Date
  • Code (for the deliverable type)
  • Deliverable title
  • Link to deliverables
  • Link to a checklist of design tasks (from client feedback)

Here’s an example of one:

Deliverable Codes

Codes are optional and you can make up your own. I use them as a way to give people the ability to visualize and jump to a specific deliverable using the menu on the left-hand side of the screen. Descriptive and consistent titles help as well.

The Design Checklist

The other important component of the project management is keeping track of design tasks that come out of design reviews. The output of design reviews is usually a list of changes and updates; I like to keep track of these and make them super transparent so the client can feel assured that their input is folded into each iteration.

A Log of Work

Aside from just making it easy for the client to find project files and feedback, one of the reasons I like the Project Diary is it’s a great, living artifact of the project. It’s often easy to forget how much work goes into designing something. Not that the number of files is the only metric that matters, but the Project Diary allows everyone to see how much work is really being done.

Links to Dropbox Paper Files

Feel free to use these for your own Project Diaries. If you use them, I’d love to hear how you go! Please share and I’d be thrilled if you gave me a should out on Twitter: @jesseddy ❤️

→ Link to Project Diary

Note: We would like to thank Jess for contributing to our blog with her article.