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How to use Trello as a designer - client management and planning

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Having a clear and easy to use system both for organising your own creative business and to communicate with clients can be a life saver. Not only will it save you time and frustration looking for that file you had months ago but it will also help you on-board and keep clients for longer.

I have used Trello for a long time to organise my business and have developed a system that makes it easy to get both a birds-eye overview and see the nitty-gritty details up close.

Today, we will look at how to use Trello to organise your own business and your client projects with a few easy tips. I found that a clear separation between the boards I invite clients to and my own day to day tasks makes things easier so we will have a look at each in turn.

trello for designers


  • Tips for using Trello effectively

  • Organise your own business with Trello

  • Using Trello to communicate with clients

Tips for using Trello effectively

Trello has a lot of great functions so let's have a quick look at some that can make your boards work harder for you before we start.

1. Create template checklists:

If you always have the same process, create a checklist template and simply add it to each new project you start.

project management for designers

2. Find all your own tasks organised by due date in your profile under "cards"

Soon we will look at how to set up distinct boards for your company and each client. Instead of looking at each board individually to see what you should work on next, you can visit your cards and organise them by due date. This way, you can quickly see what needs to be done first.

tools for designers

3. Use Trello to collect all your links to other programs

Perhaps you are using Invision to collect feedback or Google Docs to collaborate on copy for a website. Simply add the link to the tool or document in the relevant Trello card so everyone can access it. This way, you can use the tools best suited for each purpose but still have everything in one place. Don't forget to add some helpful instructions to help your client or collaborator.

trello for designers

Organise your own business with Trello

Starting on your Trello dashboard, you can separate your boards in to categories by creating multiple teams. I prefer a clear distinction between the boards where I invite clients to and those that have tasks that I need to do day to day. Let's start with how to organise our own creative business under the team called "My design studio".

For your own business tasks, I found it helpful to divide up tasks in to three sub categories, each with it's own board:

  • Active project tasks - lists all the to-do's for each project you are working on

  • Project management overview - lists all leads, active and retainer projects

  • Working on the business - here you can add tasks to work ON your business

how to use trello

Let's take a look at each one in more detail

Active project tasks

In this board, add each of your active projects as a new list. This way, you can add the tasks that need to be done for each client and assign it a due date and team member. This gives a clear overview of all your client work in one place.

trello setup

Project management board

When you get a new lead, it can be helpful to see how many projects you have and how far along they are. It is also great to have all your leads in one place so you never miss following up with anyone. I like to create three categories: leads, active projects and Retainers. Each card only has a checklist with the different stages of the design process, like discovery and concepts. Once one stage is finished, I complete the task in the checklist. This way I can always have a clear overview of how far each of my project are and if I have time to take on more work.

how to use trello

Working on the business board

For tasks that are not linked to a client but need to be done to run your business, like accounting or updating your website, it can be good to have a separate board. Here a simple remaining, in progress and completed status can be enough to organise all your tasks.

trello design business

Using Trello to communicate with clients

One of the best things you can do to build a great relationship with your clients is to be clear and transparent. In order to create a simple overview that lets your client know where in the project timeline you are and what is expected from them, you can create a board for each client or project.

I found that creating a list for each stage of the design process is the easiest setup. Under each stage, I add the tasks the client needs to complete as well as a task for me to upload any meeting summaries or deliverable.


When you have everything set up, go ahead and invite your client to the board by clicking the "invite" button next to your avatar. I suggest adding a short recap to the client explaining why you are inviting them and what to expect.

Did you find this helpful or do you have a great tip we missed? Join the discussion on our Facebook group and connect with other creatives. See you there!


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