Emma Demers, based in Washington, D.C., has been mentoring at Designlab since December 2020. Currently, she's an Education Design Fellow at an education design firm called TechChange where she's conducting user research and qualitative analysis for digital products. Previously she worked at an experiential product development lab as a UX/UI designer while she was in undergrad at Dartmouth College.
Her favorite part about being a mentor is meeting so many passionate students that challenge the way she approaches design and design thinking. Emma recently completed a year of service with AmeriCorps where she taught elementary school students, and this upcoming school year she'll be completing another year of service, this time as a Community Liaison for a DC public school. Afterwards, she plans on pursuing a career in education design.
If you’ve ever tried being a freelance designer, you probably know how hard it can be to keep your projects organized in one place, especially when working in sprints. The company I previously worked for, Dartmouth’s DALI Lab, routinely used Notion to achieve such organizations and I decided to adopt the platform for my own freelance work.
It wasn’t until I started using Notion for my independent projects that I had finally centralized all of my deadlines, clients, invoices, templates, and design briefs. Whether you’re a seasoned user of Notion (like me) or a beginner with an interest in learning more, I highly recommend trying out this process to easily create design sprints (and much more) in Notion.
The process of creating design sprints (also known as a kind of Agile process) is well known across the design world, and it can be elaborate to do by oneself as a freelance designer. But Notion makes it super easy, and can easily house other aspects of your design process too! Below is a walkthrough of how I set up new client dashboards and design sprints in Notion.
Set up a New Client Dashboard
Setting up a dashboard to house all of your documents, links, and databases is easy to create and customize.
I stick to the same template for all of my dashboards for ease-of-use, and simply duplicate the template and adjust the sections accordingly for every new client or employer. For more on templates, check out this handy article by The Productive Engineer.
You can create extra pages inside your dashboard—I prefer my briefs, interview/user notes, and invoices to live here. These pages are usually a mix of Notion templates and regular data tables or checklists, depending on the page’s purpose. For instance, I prefer my invoices to be a simple name/date table with links to the actual documents, and my briefs are usually formatted pages with text and links.
The possibilities are endless due to the customizable nature of Notion’s modular block tool. To get an idea of what’s possible you can always check out Notion’s giant template gallery (there’s a whole section dedicated to design).
Notion has now also synced blocks, which allow you to accomplish things like create a synced calendar or global task list across all your dashboards. I suspect this would be most helpful for visualizing any overlapping tasks when you’re juggling multiple clients.