5 useful tools to understand your client’s needs

Simpler collaboration

Being a freelancer is a frightening process for anybody. Be it a designer, author, developer or UXer, freelancing is a full-time — and generally a 24-hour job. You’ll need to anticipate, plan and ensure your client’s needs and desires, and ship with restricted time and assets.

Generally, you want to accomplish duties with restricted info as nicely, a state of affairs that nobody would ever need to be. However hey, the rewards are generally well worth the threat (and ache!).


When onboarding purchasers, you’ll need methods to know and understand your them. You need to use the same old channels, equivalent to an interview or voice name. Nevertheless, these standard strategies might really feel missing, relying on what you need to accomplish. First-timers are additionally inclined to lose themselves in a sea of data, and also you’ll want methods to navigate it.

Fortuitously, there are tools that you should use to assist streamline your workflow in getting to know and in understanding your shopper.

These tools ought to assist you to higher seize concepts, ideas and needs for you to have the option to ship on time with little to no revisions. Listed here are a few of the tools that I’ve been utilizing and why I believe they’re price your time. Although these slot in my private workflow I imagine chances are you’ll discover one thing will be just right for you.


Miro is: Good for grabbing your client’s likes, dislikes, design pegs and concepts. Very efficient when used along with a video conferencing instrument (i.e. Zoom). I often use these in UX periods with each purchasers and workforce members, particularly the tip customers.

I’ve used Miro for a while now, particularly with design actions and workshops.

Miro’s finest characteristic is its clear UI, intuitive actions, and responsive interactions. Enhancing in Miro is a pleasure to expertise. This, coupled with a real-time enhancing perform for your work, is a really conducive setting to get inventive.

Miro has collaboration built-into its DNA. It has a chat, a real-time enhancing characteristic, and a dwell cursor view. These options imply added interactivity, making conversations livelier than earlier than. This makes individuals extra open to talk, which is your purpose when gathering info.

Miro is basically a sandbox the place you, your workforce and purchasers can mess around with concepts, notes and extra. Undertaking administration can be achieved inside Miro, and with its real-time updates to the dashboard and to the workspace, it would really feel like that you just’re working within the workplace as soon as once more.

All in all, Miro is a strong instrument for you to try to use when collaborating with individuals. The draw back is that if contributors aren’t precisely motivated to take part in these sorts of workouts, Miro’s options will fall flat.

Milanote is: A structured means of capturing concepts, organizing your initiatives and gathering property. Folders and initiatives may be nested infinitely, so you may drill down deeper into an idea as wanted. Finest for visually organizing design pegs, paintings, and drafts. Collaboration is nice since you may edit and remark in real-time, share with teammates, and invite purchasers as collaborators into your workspace.

Milanote’s power is in its group: You possibly can create initiatives inside initiatives, and even folders inside a mission. You possibly can nest lots of these inside initiatives or actions.

This enables you to organise info or initiatives from large, strategic, overarching plans down to a number of subtasks nested inside one another. Like Miro, you may collaborate with different workforce members — nevertheless it focuses on visually organising your initiatives, notes and feedback.

As Milanote is akin to a planner (albeit a extra collaborative and visible one), you may create initiatives utilizing built-in templates that may simply information you in finishing them.

Milanote additionally has lots of collaborative options equivalent to tagging, commenting and extra. And since all the pieces is organized visually, it’s straightforward to navigate and work with it doesn’t matter what position you’re in — be it developer, designer, author or mission supervisor.

One other power to take into account is that Milanote has an internet clipper — one thing that Evernote and Microsoft OneNote even have. This internet clipper saves your clips in your Unsorted pile in Milanote, the place you may categorize it later. Good for temper boards!

Wanting to combine Milanote? Integrations can be discovered here.

What it’s: One other particular contender for being a prime knowledge assortment instrument for onboarding purchasers. You possibly can set it to have databases, folders, nested initiatives, information bases and extra. Notion has workspaces and shared notes and docs. It’s very useful for groups and in companies.

I’ve seen Notion in motion largely by different groups equivalent to system integrators, engineering and advertising and marketing. Notion is an all-in-one platform for collaboration. You possibly can construct inner tools equivalent to tables, databases, wikis, notes, notes, mission supervisor and a buyer relationship supervisor (CRM).

It makes use of Blocks as a storage unit, and the paid versions provide you with limitless blocks for importing to the workspace.

You have got all of the bells and whistles for a workforce collaboration software program, equivalent to dwell enhancing, shared workspaces, shared docs and process administration. Like Milanote, Notion additionally has an internet clipper, so you may shortly retailer references and data from the online in the event you’re doing analysis.

Capturing knowledge from purchasers utilizing Notion is analogous with different collaboration tools: create a web page/wiki to share with a shopper, grant entry, after which talk about throughout the app.

One other key characteristic is that Notion may be built-in with providers by Zapier and Automate, so if you have already got an present web page or internet type that captures shopper requests or necessities, you may simply redirect the circulation from there right into a database in Notion.

This guide from the Notion workforce additionally particulars how you are able to do it.

Notion shines the most effective when you’ve got a paid account, nevertheless it has a free tier that’s restricted with what you are able to do for your enterprise. You gained’t have the option to run your enterprise on that platform, however you may collaborate with your purchasers and workforce members (or relations) with Notion.

What it’s: I exploit Evernote to seize info and shopper necessities. I additionally acquire knowledge, samples and sources from the web utilizing Evernote with its browser add-ons (primarily Chrome). Additionally, creating new notes in Evernote permits you to use one among their built-in templates — the place you can begin a mission, weekly plan or a plain guidelines. Yet another highly effective functionality is for you to make templates for brand new notes — excellent when you’ve got a format you like over the default ones.

Evernote has been my go-to instrument when it comes to taking notes, capturing concepts, and generally simply jotting in drafts and sketches. When writing assembly minutes, Evernote can also be a extremely good instrument because it has a library of templates to select from: GTD, assembly minutes, mission planning, advertising and marketing, gross sales calls, agenda, and novel plotting!

Since Evernote has a big neighborhood of customers and advocates from throughout industries, you’ll all the time discover ideas and methods for utilizing Evernote for a particular process.

With near-unlimited storage capabilities even on the free tier, you can also make use of Evernote with out breaking the financial institution.

One other favorite for me is the WebClipper, which I’ve used extensively ever since I’ve began utilizing Evernote (in 2012!). This internet clipper can simplify an article’s formatting for saving inside Evernote, making it straightforward to learn on tablets and cell units.

One other sturdy level for Evernote is its integrations with completely different providers, supplying you with the potential to automate your knowledge capturing workflow. For instance, when you’ve got your purchasers over at MS Groups, or in Slack, you may simply push your conversations into an archive in Evernote for simple looking out and entry.

Capturing shopper necessities utilizing Evernote would even have a considerably easy workflow: create a observe with kinds in it, share the observe to a shopper for enhancing — although this may require the shopper to have an account in Evernote, so your mileage might differ.

It really works finest along with present conferencing or collaboration tools, equivalent to Zoom or WebEx.

One ache level for me in Evernote is that you would be able to’t draw over your present typed textual content. It may not be a dealbreaker for some, however for me it diminishes a little bit of the benefit of use and the flexibleness of Evernote as an all-in-one observe taking and collaboration app.

What it’s: My fallback instrument. If something, OneNote presents a clean canvas — each a power and a weak point — the place you may write concepts, draw them and extra. The only most vital characteristic OneNote has over the remaining is the potential to sort in textual content, after which write over the typed textual content. This stage of flexibility has been very useful for me when capturing concepts, particularly when assembly face to face with purchasers which might be chatterboxes.

OneNote comes free and often preinstalled in most Home windows units, so it’s straightforward to get into the OneNote recreation. It’s principally a one, large, clean pocket book the place you may add virtually something: photographs, textual content, hyperlinks, articles, sketches, and even embed movies.

You possibly can combine OneNote with sure providers, too, by Zapier.

OneNote additionally carries with it your Sticky Notes, that are accessed usually by the Home windows desktop app. On cell, these Sticky Notes are accessible and searchable. If in case you have a pen you may even draw on them. What’s finest is that you would be able to draw on present photographs and textual content!

As that is primarily a note-taking app, why would OneNote be right here on this record?

It’s very efficient when used along with different tools. Its clean canvas is as highly effective as it’s daunting: you are able to do, write and draw something with OneNote. However on the identical time, it isn’t a instrument to be used alone. You employ it with conferencing tools, equivalent to Zoom, WebEx and even MS Groups. Should you and your workforce are in Office 365 or Microsoft 365, it really works nicely and is tightly built-in with all Workplace Apps (Phrase, Excel, Outlook, Energy Level, and many others.).

My workflow

In my workflow, I exploit a mixture of all these tools, however not precisely all of them. I exploit largely two or three at a time. Some examples:

Step 1

For a design mission, I name and chat with a shopper whereas sharing screens on Milanote. Afterwards, I create a listing of motion gadgets within the app, then share it with the shopper. I also can create a mission Mood Board for setting visible pegs and design concepts to set the general route and tone. Purchasers and workforce members touch upon the temper boards and design pegs, after which can be utilized as a foundation for the work within the subsequent step.

Step 2

For a writing gig, I sometimes interview the shopper with regards to the route and imaginative and prescient. I exploit Evernote’s built-in templates to interview and seize info. Some purchasers I’ve labored with up to now (pre-COVID) would get interviewed face to face, being attentive to what they discuss when it comes to their total route and imaginative and prescient of the ultimate product.

This differs although for technical writing initiatives, the place there’s a set commonplace of writing type and construction. What I do as an alternative for these is to work out the general tone of the docs, whether or not it’s conversational, or perky, or vigorous, or impartial. After which I share the observe with the shopper finalizing the type, after which I begin work on the define and drafts.

Step 3

For growth initiatives, it runs virtually the identical because the design mission. I add an additional observe the place we record all the necessities wanted for the app, in addition to design pegs that the shopper has in thoughts for the UI and UX of the characteristic. We run these workshops with the shopper and its stakeholders to be sure that what we seize is complete sufficient to construct a viable product that they are going to be each pleased with and luxuriate in.

Step 4

For mission administration duties, I primarily use Milanote to collaboratively share and annotate duties with the workforce and the shopper. If there may be an accessible code repository and design asset library, I hyperlink it inside Milanote for them to work with. If I’m collaborating with giant groups, Miro and Notion will get the larger slice of the pie, nevertheless it largely relies upon if the workforce is already on board the platform or not.


To summarize, use tools that be just right for you and your workforce. Tools work finest solely when their customers know and work with the system to its capabilities. Any one among these tools can (and can) shine by the darkness of uncertainty, particularly when working with new initiatives, purchasers, and concepts.

Most of those tools have overlapping options and capabilities, and it doesn’t damage to take a look at them out!

Go forward and experiment with these and see what works and what doesn’t. And eventually, no instrument is used alone — there’ll all the time be gaps in a product, even with essentially the most well-thought programs. Have in mind to save a backup of your work someplace as an archive, so you may be certain to have entry even when the programs go down or turn out to be inaccessible.



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