Best 9 Web Design Project Management Software (built) for web designers
When you are a web designer, you might feel that there is no real need for web design project management software.
Truth ism however, web design projects need to be managed. They suffer from the same risks as all other types of project. When web design is your livelihood, you can’t afford to run the risk of mismanagement of your web design projects.
However, the reality is this – most project management software is not build for web designers. In reality, what happens is that, either the software you are using is too open, or else it is too complicated.
When it’s too complicated, you end up spending more time struggling with the web design project management software. When it’s open, there is no added-value for your as a web designer.
So what should a web designer do?
We’ve had a look around to find the best web design project management software for web designers.
Your search is over!
BeeWits built for project management software built for web designers.
Let me tell you a quick story before we continue with this article. When our parent company, the digital agency Switch was setting itself up, like many others before us, we started looking for project management software which caters for web designers, agencies and creatives like us.
We scoured the internet. We asked our peers. We visited websites and forums, Facebook groups and everywhere else people were willing to listen to our question.
Is there any good web design project management software?
The answer was dismal. Yes there is project management software. No, it’s not specifically for web design.
We were both dejected and amazed that nobody had catered for such a large niche of users.
So, ever the entreprenuers, we decided to build it ourselves.
A couple of years later and here we are. BeeWits is specifically built as web design project management software – built for web designers, by web designers.
But before we dig into the actual projects, how do web design projects fail?
Why you need web design project management software – 5 reasons
Truth be told – many website projects fail. Quite a lot of our projects at Switch are cleaning up the mess left behind when other web designers started a project and failed. Let’s go through some of the reasons why web design projects fail and why you should invest in web design project management software.
1. Scope creep
So let’s just say, as a freelancer or small agency, you make a pitch for a website project, setup a quick meeting and pretty much you soon find yourself hired for the job. You’re of course quite thrilled. You send out a quote, negotiate a bit, and pretty soon you find yourself hired.
So the first thing you want to do when you start the project, is get the exact things you need to do. (Incidentally, we’ve created an awesome list of questions to ask – a website client questionnaire – 70 questions to ask your client before you start).
Suddenly, your client starts to dream up all sorts of functionality which was never mentioned when you sent the quote.
Even worse, those clients who start extending the scope of functionality when you are nearing completion, always postponing the payment to when we finish “just this one little thing more”.
2. Insufficient communication
Communication breakdown is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that any project can encounter. Web design projects are not immune to this kind of project failure.
Whether this communication breakdown is with the client, with your fellow teammates, with other freelancers you are working with, with offshored developers or designers, or anybody else involved in a project. The biggest killer of course is insufficient communication with the client.
Your project management software of choice for your web design projects, should enable better and easier communication.
Specifically, we feel, since your client is paying the bills, the most important communication has to happen with your client.
But how do you actually involve your client in a project, whilst also not giving them access to all of your tasks, content, (and heaven forbid), known bugs? A good web design project management software will be able to keep your client in sync with the progress of the project.
We’ll show you a solution to great client communication later on in this article.
3. Uncontrolled developers
Following up with our communication breakdown problems, we must say that most web design projects will involve a level of development. Of course, developers and designers are known to have a quite a bit of differences in the way that they understand things.
Clear communication, clear tasks, clear goals, clear outputs, you need to make sure that you developers are in your control.
Besides actual specifications, there are problems such as deadlines not kept, low quality code or results.
Your developers can be both the reason for succes and the reason for the failure of your projects.
Your choice of web design project management software should be able to take into consideration how you will be dealing with your developers, with things such as notifications and reminders built-in.
4. Incomplete functionality or lack of Quality Assurance
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned one of the problems being scope creep. Now, whilst doing things which are out of scope may kill your project, there is another thing which might kill your project: lack of completion of all tasks and incorrectly implemented functions and features.
Let’s start with the first. Any website, irrespective of scope, is going to require a number of things which should be implemented, without the client have had to ask for them. Simply put, your client will not even know these are basic functions of a website, and it is your responsiblity to put them in place.
In fact, we’ve actually created another website checklist – this is a list of all of the tasks you’ll probably have to do for your next web design project. As a very simple example of these tasks, you need to make sure that images used are optimized for the web.
Once the tasks are done, you also need to make sure that the functions are working well. For example, you need to make sure that links have not broken when setting your website live, forms are sending data to the correct email addresses, spelling and grammar are spot on and there are relevant CTAs in each page as necessary.
A good web design project management software will be able to guide you towards making sure all of the necessary functions have been implemented and thoroughly tested.
5. Not enough visibility into projects
Whilst many times, projects can fail due to circumstances which we might not have anticipated, some times, it’s the lack of planning which is actually to blame.
Of course – this is not something which we do intentionally. We don’t plan to mismanage a project. In reality, if you don’t have a good bird’s eye view of the situation of each and every project, you’re going to have trouble planning your work.
That’s why a web design project management software is essential – because it allows you to have a good look at the “state” of your web design project. You’ll be able to see what’s done, what’s left and whether or when you can decide to slot in other work.
What benefits (as opposed to features) should your web design project management software have?
1. Cloud-based vs on-premise
Gone are the days when you had to manage your own software. We are in age of SaaS or Cloud based software.
We won’t go into to much details of SaaS benefits, it’s been proven over and over again. More and more small businesses are adopting SaaS based software services.
Local deployments have simply become the technology of the past. Your web design project management software should be completely cloud-based, because you have more important things to do than manage the software itself!
2. Focused around web design
When you are expecting to depend on your web design project management tool for the daily running of your business, you should make sure that the software has been built for web designers.
This is because if you opt for a generic project management tools (such as BaseCamp or Trello) you have to make some compromise – you’re going to have to work around the software and configure it suit your needs.
On the other hand, something which has been built for and around web design is going to hit the spot every time.
For example, with BeeWits, you can take a website checklist and get it right into your project. You can just pick and mix from all of the checklists we’ve made available as preset task templates, such as the WordPress checklist, the SEO checklist, the website review checklist, the website client questionnaire and so many others.
Recommendation: If you want your choice to perfectly suit your needs, you should go for a service which caters specifically to the needs of your niche.
3. The web design project management software addresses your pain points
Pain points – they’re the reason you need a project management tool right?
Maybe you don’t have enough visibility into project progress right? Maybe you’re not sure who is doing what? Or maybe you’re not sure if all of the tasks you need to do are in place? Or maybe your content, files, resources, copy, images are scattered all over the place? Maybe you’re having a hard time keeping the client in sync with progress?
Your web design project management software needs to address your pain points. You don’t need lots of funky features. You don’t need a snazzy interface (you just need to make sure it’s dead simple to use).
What you really need is something which addresses your pain points.
The best way to resolve this is to brainstorm all the problems you are facing. The person who then is researching the tool should make sure that web design project management software of choice addresses the pain points highlighted by the eventual users.
Incidentally, we’re a digital / web design agency, we’ve experienced these pain points before we built a solution for them.
4. Cost which you can afford
Most project management sotware tools these days are unfortunately tailored towards squeezing out every possible penny out of you.
There is no clearer example of this that user-based pricing. This means, that as the number of users increase, so do your costs.
This you think, may be the most logical way of charging for services right, but this is highly skewed in favour of the SaaS software providers.
On the other hand, modern SaaS software are going for a very different approach. You are charged based on a per-account basis, and you’re only charged by the amount of projects you are running.
This approach is very attractive to small to medium sized businesses, where they are not “penalized” when new users start using the web design project management software. If you have teams of users which are likely to change between one project and the next, user-based pricing may not be ideal for you, because at any point in time a number of your users will be idle (and you’re charged for them regardless).
Incidentally, at BeeWits, we only charge on a per account basis – you get as many users as you need at any point. That also includes access to the client (should you chose to provide access).
5. Simple to use
The problem with most project management software tools is this: they are much too complex for everyday use.
In essence, much of the larger project management tools have been developed for management of large teams, with long development and project cycles.
For example, construction projects, large software development projects, production and design of buildings. Most of these project have complex resourcing requirements, many dependencies and need a highly complex and configurable tool to manage things.
Now, if you wanted to crack a walnut, you might opt to use a sledgehammer, but clearly, a nut cracker will do a much better job.
Same goes for your web design project management software – why should you use a sledgehammer on your (smallish) projects, when there are much more suitable tools.
If you are a freelancer or a small web design, digital and/or creative team, you need a tool which is simpler to use.
BeeWits has been designed with freelancers and small digital agencies in mind. Not complex resourcing, no Gantt charts, no strict dependencies and fancy features. Simple, gets the job done.
To use a cliche, built by web designers, for web designers.
To use another cliche, it’s project management software for people who are not project managers.
With that bit of a (somewhat) lengthy intro, let’s go onto our choice of web design project management software.
1. BeeWits – project management software for web designers
The one, the first, the foremost and probably the only product developed specifically with web designers in mind, BeeWits was developed with 3 things in mind
- BeeWits wants projects to be able to get started quickly. To that extent, rather than starting from a blank slate, BeeWits provides you with a large number of task templates, or presets. You can then pick and mix tasks to create a specific blend for your current project.
- Always know what to do next. Using task templates, you know that you’ve got all those tiny tasks you are prone to forget scheduled, so whenever you’re overwhelmed and can’t get your head around what to do next, just go to BeeWits and you’ll know exactly which tasks are left for you.
- Everybody in on the same page. With BeeWits, the project owner, the members and even the client know exactly what’s going on with the project. The owner knows which tasks are done and which aren’t – they have good visibility. The members can collaborate and work on tasks. And the client can get invited to collaborate on a project, thus knowing that projects are proceeding on schedule.
BeeWits starts at $19/month with unlimited users.
BaseCamp, currently on v3 has been going through a series of redesigns focused on usability after getting very serious compeition from the likes of Trello and Asana (another two project management software tools which can be applied to web design projects)
The current version has taken much from the likes of Trello, using “boards” to store the tasks and files as necessary.
Is BaseCamp strictly for web desingers? No. But for sure, if you just want to work with a blank slate, BaseCamp is a good way to manage your projects.
BaseCamp is available at $99/month with unlimited users.
3. Trello – a different way of managing projects
There are two types of people. Those who like the way that Trello works and those who absolutely hate it.
Incidentally, if you’re not sure whether you like Trello or our next suggestion Asana, you might want to have a look at our showdown – Trello vs Asana – which is best project managemment app? (2017))
This is going to be a bit unfortunate if you plan to use Trello in a team, because you’re going to get quite some resistance from those who hate it.
If you can live with that, Trello has an innovative way of managing projects. Again, this is NOT for web designers, but for sure, it can be something which can work for web design projects, since it is very open.
Evidence that Trello is a love it or hate kind of software is the minimal amount of funding it’s been getting – the growth it’s experienced is thanks to it’s different way of doing things.
4. Asana – track work for teams
Asana, powered by a couple of former Facebook employees (Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosnestein) is a nice tool for managing work. Again, though this is quite generic in nature, and you’ll have to organize your web design projects around the tool, since it is not primarily aimed as web design project management software.
It’s been receiving quite a few rounds of funding, hence it’s growth in popularity and why it’s been making quite a lot of rounds lately.
5. Jira – project tracking for software teams
Jira is one of the more popular project tracking software for software development teams. From our feedback when we visited web summit, people love to hate Jira, yet for software teams, this has been the first (and many times – the only) option they encounter.
Although software developers and web designers have a few things in common, many times their needs do not fully overlap. Infact, any software aimed at software development teams is going to be overkill most times for web designers.
Still, Jira has quite a few good features for software teams, which can be hammered into place and be also used as web design project management software. Not our first choice, if you had to ask us to make a choice, but not a bad choice.
Wrike has long been intended as a provider of online project management tools. It’s been growing in popularity and has been marketed quite agressively over the last few years, thanks to a number of funding rounds it’s been getting.
Again, quite an open and configurable project management tool, which however does not have web design as it’s primary aim. Can you get it to function as web design project management software? For sure. Is it configured and designed to do this. Not really.
So we’re finally in the realm of webdesign project management software which yes, is specifically targeted for building websites.
JumpChart is specifically about planning websites as they are being built. So much so, that it also includes a “mockup” kind of tool built in. Besides the ability to store content, sources and resources as necessary, with JumpChart you can also actually mockup the pages of the website you will be writing.
Whilst JumpChart is great for planning content of the website, we feel it misses the mark when it comes to tracking all of the work which needs to be done to complete a site from start to finish. In essence, a site has plenty of tasks which need to get done – JumpChart does not help you track any of the progress of work which needs to be done.
Zoho have developed quite a few tools around the project management industry. Besides Zoho Projects, which is targeted towards project management, there is also Zoho CRM, Zoho Books for small business accounting and plenty of other apps designed for small businesses.
What Zoho does is try to remove the complexity from these pieces of software, which are typically aimed at larger sized businesses.
Just like many of the above tools, Zoho Projects can fit really nicely, however there are few if any web design project management software specific functions. As a web designer, you’ll have to look at setting all of this up from scratch for each web design project you undertake.
9. RedPen – collaborative design
Ok, so this is another tool which can surely fall under the web design project management software niche. In reality, this is a great tool for anywhere creatives are working together on projects, but are possibly in several remote locations.
RedPen actually allows you collaborate on a specific design, with comments and annotations on the design itself. Of course, designing a website is something which requires plenty of collaboration on the designs. Whether it’s the designers with the developers, the project manager with the client, or the designers between them, there is plenty of room for collaboration on the actual designs.
RedPen does exactly this – and it’s a pretty great tool at doing that. It’ also priced very simply, starting at $20/month for 5 projects, with unlimited users.
Honorable mention: Launchlist.net
Launchlist was, until it’s premature demise, Launchlist was one of very few specific web design project management tools. In essence, Launchlist was exactly a whole list of all of the tasks you need to get done to launch a website. Unfortunately, the project has recently stopped accepting customers and is now closing down.
Our preferred web design project management software
Really and truly, when it comes to looking for web design project management software, your choices are fairly limited. And that’s why, BeeWits was born. Web designers, have very specific needs, and we wanted to close the gap. As web designers ourselves, we strive to provide a platform which works for web designers who want to manage and track their work.
So far, we feel like we’re pretty much on the right track, even from the positive comments our users are giving us.
Let’s just give you a quick run-down of the benefits of Beewits
- Start projects QUICKLY from task templates – we’ve defined hundreds of tasks which are typically required to complete a website project from start to finish. You just need to pick and mix the tasks which apply to your project and start the project. That means, projects are started really really quickly. You’re also sure you haven’t forgotten any essential tasks.
- Always knows what’s next – as somebody who is pretty freaking busy, sometimes you might forget what’s left in your project. BeeWits provides you with full visibility of what tasks are done, what’s left and crucially, what the next task on your (and all of your team members plate)
- Everybody is in SYNC (including the client) – BeeWits eases collaboration. By being a single point of contact for tasks, collaboration, discussions, resources and everything related to tasks, you know that if you’re on BeeWits you know exactly what’s going on. Crucially, you can also invite the client to your project. But don’t worry, they won’t just see everything – they only see those tasks which you have marked as Public. That means, the client feels involved in the project, whilst also knowing exactly what progress is being made on the project.
We can keep going about our favourite web design project management software, but why not give BeeWits a spin yourself?