In this article we are going to do a head-to-head comparison on two of the most popular productivity software suites on the market, Notion and ClickUp. The productivity software market is burgeoning, particularly with more of us working remotely and it has become a crucial tool in managing and collaborating with teams.
Both these tools set out to do more than just organize your teams and workflow, they both describe themselves as complete all-in-one-toolkits for the modern workforce.
What is Notion?
Notion has been described as a swiss army knife for productivity. If there is a process that your team uses an app for, chances are that Notion has the functionality to do it. Using a block system in which each block can perform a number of functions from being a simple note to a database, Notion let’s you build a management system customized exactly as you require it.
What is ClickUp?
ClickUp describes itself as an all-in-one project management tool that was developed to negate the need for many separate tools by replacing all the apps that are usually required to accomplish this. ClickUp aims to help businesses of all sizes to centralize their workflow by providing an app to deal with Docs, Task Assignments, Goals, Communication. Notes and more.
Both these apps have a lot going for them and largely have succeeded in achieving their aims. In this section we are going to look at some of the pros that Notion has to offer.
Notion uses a ‘Block’ as the fundamental organizational unit for all their systems. Users can create blocks and give them attributes to build systems that suit their requirements exactly. These blocks can be anything from embedded content, to databases, to a simple note and everything in between.
Users can create blocks and add them to pages in the app, each page can be a simple block containing just a line or two of text to a complete database. The beauty about this system is that you can build whatever you like, you can embed blocks within blocks, change blocks from one type to another and even design complete web pages.
Notion’s Note taking functions are on a par with many of the top dedicated Note Taking apps. Because of the block system, once you assign a block as a note you have complete control over the content and formatting within the block. Using this method Notes can be as simple or as complex as you require.
This can turn a note from an easily missed few lines of bland text to a dynamic, multimedia infused object that can’t be missed.
Many organizations use different apps for different workflow and organizational functions, Documents, Team collaboration, Web-design, Costing, CRM, Communication, Project Management and Product Development would all require their own app. Not too bad if you only use a couple, but with systems becoming increasingly complex the size of these software stacks has also grown.
Notion has put all of these tools under one umbrella.
Cross Platform Support
Works on any platform, apart from the browser based desktop versions that work on both Windows and MacOS, they also have a mobile app that can be downloaded for iOS and Android.
Notion offers integrations with many third-party apps, including Google Calendar, Google Drive, Slack, Teams, Zapier and many more. The list of apps that can be integrated grows on an almost daily basis.
Other Notion Pros
- Free Version – Although it is restricted to a single user, the free version is still great for personal use, freelancers etc.
- Multiple Views – View your data in a variety of ways, including list, Kanban, Database and Calendar.
- Templates – Notion comes with a range of templates to cover a range of tasks and there are many more online to select, including a large number developed by the Notion Online community.
ClickUp sets out with much the same goals as Notion, it is also a flexible, multitool that can perform a large variety of functions. In this section we will look at some of the pros of ClickUp.
Similar to Notion one of the great features about this software is its flexibility. Using elements like spaces, lists and folders you can create any structure or system you choose.
ClickUp has set itself out to be one of the most compatible apps on the market. One great feature is its ability to import data from other project management apps, which is fantastic for those that are shifting from another app. But it also offers native integration for just about any other app you are suing in your software stack, including: –
- Google Assistant
- Amazon Alexa
- And many more besides.
Whilst this could be said about any software, ClickUp has rolling updates almost on a weekly basis that are always adding new features and improving existing ones based on the feedback and suggestions from the user community.
Great Free Version and Pricing Structure
For smaller teams or for those just wanting to test the water ClickUp offers a great free version that has enough features to get you started and get a feel of the software before you purchase. For many smaller teams this may be all you need, but if you do decide to upgrade the unlimited package is one of the best value on the market at $5 per member per month.
Other Advantages of ClickUp
- Great Templates – Similar to Notion, ClickUp has a wide range of templates to get you started.
- Mobile App – For working on the move ClickUp have an app available for Android and iOS members.
- Multi-View – Lists, Kanban, Gantt, Timeline, ClickUp offers you a host of ways to view your data.
In this section we have a look at some areas where there is room for improvement.
Tricky to Set Up
This isn’t an out-the-box solution. Although there are templates to help you get started, it is still necessary to spend some time getting Notion set up to suit your needs. The Flexibility that Notion offers could be considered a double-edged sword, as to achieve this the user has to put the effort in to build their perfect system.
Custom Tag Searches
One really useful feature that Notion offers is the ability to add custom tags to any element within the app. However, if you want to retrieve data based on these tags it is impossible as there is no function to allow you to filter data by these tags.
Lack of an API
Apparently in the pipeline, but currently there is no API to allow you to export your data directly to other software.
Too clever for its own good
Sometimes simplicity is good! It would be nice if Notion allowed you to create a nice simple table that just held a piece of text. However, each table you create in Notion is a database and this just seems overkill, not everything you enter needs to be part of a dataset.
Clunky Mobile App
It isn’t that Notion has created a bad app, it just misses the mark a bit. Slow to load, particularly if you have heavy databases, it has an unreliable sync system that often needs prompting and some users have expressed dismay at how easy it is to accidentally delete items.
Limited Free Version
The free version is great for organizing your personal life or for freelancers, but unless you upgrade to the pro version it isn’t going to be any use for any team organization purposes, regardless of their size.
These are very similar apps and each has its weak points. In this section we are going to look at some of the cons of ClickUp.
Takes Time to Set Up
Just like Notion, ClickUp offers you infinite flexibility and customization options. And Just like Notion it is this very feature that gives it a steeper learning curve and a time-consuming set up. Once it’s set up and running the user experience is good, but initially someone is going to have to have a tinker about to get it there in the first place.
Although it isn’t a complicated interface and most users should be able to master it with a minimum of training, it is a bit clustered looking and not quite as clean as the Notion UI.
Many of the apps that offer similar services have fantastic knowledge bases and tutorial videos. ClickUp does have reasonable resources in this sector, but there is definite room for improvement, more tutorial videos would be a fantastic start.
Can be Sluggish
Although it has all the appearance of a lightweight app, at times it can behave like it’s a real resource monster. This appears to be more prevalent when trying to open larger or complex databases.
This seems to be another recurring theme, not just ClickUp and Notion but many project management apps just don’t seem to have handled the mobile app side very well and ClickUp have fallen into the same category.
Clumsy, slow to load and lacking in features, however as ClickUp is constantly updating hopefully improvements are in the pipeline.
Template setup is Quite Unintuitive
While there is a fantastic range of templates to select from, actually setting them up is quite daunting. After you have done a couple it’s easy, but I did go through a bit of head scratching first.
Advantages that Notion has over ClickUp
These two apps are incredibly similar in nature, they have similar good points and similar flaws. They are both excellent apps in their own right, however there are some subtle differences, in this section we are going to look at some of the aspects where Notion has an advantage.
They can both be tricky to set up initially, but after this is done Notion offers the cleaner user experience. The interface that users are presented with is intuitive to use and uncluttered in appearance.
The ability to create blocks that can be whatever you like and embed these anywhere within your system means that Notion has designed a system that edges it in the flexibility stakes.
The huge range of templates that are available within and out with the app is one of the prime features of Notion, and with an active community that is constantly adding new ones it is an ever growing list.
There is also a huge resource of Notion designed templates that are also available on online, if you want Notion to perform a particular function there is probably a template already designed for the job.
Better for Personal Use
The free version that Notion offers for personal use is a well-featured and powerful tool that will provide more than ample functionality for just about everyone.
Advantages that ClickUp has over Notion
ClickUp has many of the same strengths of Notion, here are some of the factors where it outshines its competition.
Better Free Version
The Notion free version would nudge the choice if we were considering this on a personal basis, however for teams and project management purposes the ClickUp free version wins hands down, there are restrictions but to get started the free version offers you: – Unlimited tasks, Unlimited Members and 100mb of storage. Okay, the storage is probably going to be outgrown quickly, but to get a feel for the software using smaller projects and teams this is a great option.
Once you outgrow the free versions, both charge based on a monthly fee per user. The ClickUp fee is $5 and Notion charges $8, for larger teams this equates to a large saving.
Easier to Set Up
These apps both take a bit of setting up to get them tailored to your needs, and in both cases this can be time-consuming and tricky. ClickUp has developed a system that is marginally easier to set up than the Notion app.
Who Should Use Notion?
Teams that require a lot of flexibility in their Project management and Workflow systems would definitely benefit from Notion. Also, if you want a complete app that will do everything from designing a webpage to wring a letter to managing your finances. The scope of this app really makes it suitable for just about anyone that needs to organize anything.
Individuals who need to introduce some organization into their personal and work life would also appreciate what Notion could do for them.
Who Should Use ClickUp?
ClickUp is a great option for smaller teams with projects that aren’t quite as complex. The free version is the perfect choice in those instances. For larger teams that don’t require quite the amount of flexibility that Notion can offer and want an app that is easier to set up then this fits this bill.
It is also perfect for budget conscious organizations as the pricing structure is amongst the best on the market.
Which is Better for Project Management?
Both these apps are excellent at ensuring your projects run smoothly, the strengths and weaknesses of both means there is no straightforward answer to this question. If you don’t mind spending some time setting up and want a complete solution for all your tasks, then the answer is Notion.
For a more straightforward and specific Project Management Solution then ClickUp fits that bill nicely. It also offers the better free version for managing less complex tasks and smaller teams.
Which is Better for Collaboration?
Once again, both these apps perform admirably when it comes to Collaboration. However, the flexibility that Notion offers slightly edges out the competition. Although ClickUp is a great app with great collaboration features including chat rooms and messaging, the sheer flexibility of Notion and the capability to create team wikis and suchlike means it is just the better option. But, as I said, there really isn’t a deal breaking difference between them.
Which is Better for Note Taking?
Notion has Note Taking capabilities that are stronger than some of the dedicated Note Taking apps on the market. For ease of use and the full features of Notion’s Note Taking features, it wins in this category.
Pricing: Notion vs ClickUp
- FREE Plan (aka “Personal”)
- Personal Pro 4$
- Team 8$
- Enterprise 20$
- FREE plan (Basic)
- Basic 5$
Conclusion: Our Final Verdict is…
It really is a shame to have to choose a winner between these two, they are both high performing and rapidly evolving platforms and that has to bode well for the future. Many of the cons for both programs are no more than mere niggles that I’m confident will be corrected in the very near future.
However, the brief of this article was to pick the best tool for your productivity, and that has to go to Notion, purely for the sheer number of features it offers and its infinite flexibility it just nudges ahead of ClickUp.
One caveat, for smaller teams the free version of ClickUp may be all you ever need and is free forever.