Online Design Tools Review

In years past, being a put-together interior designer meant lugging around a large portfolio full of design inspiration, swatches, measurement tools, and ample amounts of paper and sketches. Today, you can do all of that through the right apps on your phone or computer! Not only do online applications help with organization and inspiration, but they also can aid in scheduling, communication with clients, budgeting, and full completion of the pre-design process. We have reviewed some of our favorite design tools that we think every designer needs to check out.

Design Files

Praised for its ease-of-use and simplistic approach, Design Files puts all of your business tools in one place. Design Files has design boards that are very simple to use and cut planning time in half. With access to over 500k products and colors, you can export design boards as easy-to-use PDF files. Once products are selected, you can source and save them to a project library. From project libraries, you can send client invoices and create vendor purchases. Also, Design Files offers integrated marketing tools to help grow your business via social media. 

Although plans range from $19 to $35 a month, they provide a free project trial before you start. On top of that, you can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your plan anytime with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Highly rated by thousands of users, Design Files is one of the easiest-to-use platforms and the quickest to learn. If you are looking for an application that is cheap and simple, this is for you.


Studio Designer

Studio Designer is a very sleek and sophisticated platform. Focusing on the four major components of the design process, Studio Designer has features that help with project management, accounting, client communications, and vendor management. 

With the project management application, you can manage every detail of the design from beginning to end. The accounting function makes complexities of finances easier to use, understand, and maintain.

The client portal provides your client with access to view their project at any time. Designers can submit proposals to their clients who can then decline or approve. Each approved piece automatically moves money from the client’s account to the designer’s.

The vendor portal allows access to your favorite showrooms and manufacturers as well as being able to create your own library of products for specific projects. Ranging from $35 to $45 a month, Studio Designer does not offer a free trial. However, they have a pretty simple cancellation policy. What sets Studio Designer apart from the other design tools is their functionality of the back-end details of project management, rather than focusing mainly on the creative process.

Somewhere between simple and complex lies Ivy has the accessible creative functions that make it usable for just about anyone, but they also have the sophisticated back-end management devices to tie in the full design process from start to finish. Ivy is praised for how easy it is to learn and use, and for having everything designers need in one place.

Designers can create room boards with products from real suppliers to show clients exactly how their space will look. This feature allows product vetting in the pre-proposal phase by sharing boards with clients who can then accept or decline recommended products, as well as offer feedback based on their opinions. The budget feature is scaled and responds instantly to changes throughout the board. The clipper tool allows prices to be easily visible as well as making available personal data fields such as delivery notes or markup percentages. 

Plans range from $59 to $149 a month, which includes access to the Ivy platform as well as access to industry resources and a design community. The Ivy platform is designed to take the pain out of administrative tasks to allow designers to focus on the work that they love. Ivy puts creativity first and has a big focus on the creative process, ensuring that the tools they offer make the rest of the design process as easy as can be.


Design Manager

Design Manager is all-in-one software, designed for the designer. Mostly praised for its ability to keep design firms organized, Design Manager pays attention to the details so that you don’t have to. It serves as a database for all the minute details and provides a straightforward platform to track orders and invoices. It is strictly a back-end tool to manage projects, rather than the creative side. Another plus is that the software is specific to the designer marketplace. Tracking orders, managing accounting, creating reports, and managing inventory are just a few things you can save time doing by using Design Manager for your project management needs. It ranges from $39.99 to $54.99 per month, although you can schedule a free trial before purchasing.