Productivity tools have been with us for decades now, and the features that the latest generations of these tools offer is quite staggering. From humble beginnings that satisfied a niche market, to a must-have for anyone organizing a team and projects. Particularly in the current world situation which has forced more people to work remotely, software apps like Evernote and Notion have now become critical components for many organizations.
This article sets out to compare two of the most popular of these tools Evernote and Notion.
What is Notion?
Notion is a bit of a newcomer on the block when compared to Evernote. It was developed with the lofty aim of becoming an all-in-one-multitool designed to satisfy a whole range of the management tasks of an organization or team.
It has a flexible approach to the elements you can use, effectively meaning you can build your own organizational system that incorporates as many or as little features as you wish.
What is Evernote?
Evernote is exactly as it sounds, a note taking application. It is developed specifically with this in mind and unlike Notion’s widespread Jack-of-all trades approach, Evernote has specialized in the field of note taking.
These notes can be used for organizational purposes such as task management, sharing ideas and progress reports. The notes themselves can be text, photographs, web content, videos and more.
The Pros of Notion
When considering the pros of these software suites we need to consider that whilst they are both organizational and productivity tools, they are fundamentally different in the way they approach these areas, and both have set out with different objectives.
In this section we are going to consider the benefits of using Notion.
Notion was developed to be a highly flexible productivity tool. While in some instances (which we shall cover) this could be considered a con, for the most part this is one of Notion’s strongest features.
The basic organizational element within the software is the block. Everything is built using blocks and in much the same way as a kid can build whatever their imagination lets them with a building block set, you can do the exact same within Notion when it comes to building a highly customized productivity solution for your business.
A block can be anything from a simple note to a database and can be placed wherever you like, they can be embedded within pages or other blocks, moved and copied, have their attributes changed.
Whilst Evernote is fundamentally a Note-Taking app, Notion has just about every feature you could imagine. Once again, this is down to the core architecture of the software, by allowing so much customization, the software can effectively be used for just about any imaginable task.
Amongst commonly used features are: –
- Web Design
- And much more besides. If you are looking for a feature rich program, then Notion is worth considering.
For each page you create Notion, there are amazing looking templates to select from to get you started creating a fantastic looking system. These templates can be as simple as a header and theme for a page to a complete project roadmap.
The templates are sorted within categories which makes it easy to find exactly the best template for the job.
- Multiple Views – You can view your data in many ways including table, Kanban and database.
- Free Version – Although restricted to a single user, it is a well-featured version and great for personal use.
- Mobile version – There is an Android and iOS app available for keeping tabs on things whilst on the move.
Evernote sets out with a different brief from Notion, it has taken a specialist route to create a dedicated note-taking app that doesn’t pertain to being a complete toolkit. In this section we will look at some of the pros of Evernote.
Hardly surprising to find Note Taking in the pros section of a Note taking app. It would be worrying for the developers if it wasn’t!
It isn’t without some minor niggles (which we shall also cover) but as far as note taking apps goes, this one is head and shoulders above most of the competition. Notes can be fully formatted, contain lists, videos, tables, and just about any other embedded content. The interface is simple to use, particularly when compared to Notion’s which at times can appear quite intimidating for what should be a simple task.
While it doesn’t set itself out as a complete organizational solution, it does integrate with just about any other software platform in the field. Integrations include Google Drive, Outlook, Slack, Zapier, Trello, and Salesforce to name a few.
It is this capacity to integrate with so many programs that really elevates Evernote from being a mere note taking app, to something infinitely more powerful.
Simple to Use and Set Up
If simplicity is important, then Evernote is certainly an easier program to set up than Notion is. It has a simple and intuitive interface that is uncluttered yet can still provide all the necessary functionality that a user requires.
Great for Clipping Web Pages
The web clipper browser extension is a fantastic way of grabbing the content of an entire web page and making a note from it. It even strips the ads from it.
Other Evernote Pros
- Great free version – Suitable for personal use, the free version lets you sync across two devices.
- Templates – Evernote has a fantastic selection of templates to build your notes on.
- Mobile – Evernote’s mobile apps are amongst the highest rated in the industry.
Notion has set out to cover just about any administration and organization task that a team or business would ever require. With such a lofty ambition, it is unsurprising that there are some areas where it doesn’t quite get it right.
Here are some of the cons of Notion.
Steep Learning Curve
Because the software allows you to customize just about every aspect of your system (see pros), the downside of this is that it can be difficult to set up and learn how to set it up to function exactly as you wish.
While for some people this is exactly what they are looking for, for others that just want a system up and running quickly, this might not be the best option.
Filters and Tags
You can add custom tags to any page or block within the pages, but there is no option within the program to filter by these tags, which removes a large part of the purpose of them in the first place.
Can be Slow to Load
It takes a few seconds for the system load to properly, okay this doesn’t seem like a big thing, but those few seconds can be frustrating and feel like a lot longer, and it appears to happen each time I login, regardless of the speed of the internet.
This isn’t really a software con, rather a potential user pitfall that is generated by the flexibility that Notion offers. One downside of this is that any system you build within the suite has the potential to become messy quickly if you don’t ensure that it is designed well, and other users are kept in the loop as to its proper use. (Luckily, Notion has a great Wiki building system to create all the necessary documentation for this)
It isn’t a bad mobile app but many users have reported glitches like syncing taking too long and it being too easy to delete elements.
Evernote has been about for a while and it has always been an evolving and improving product, however there are still some aspects where it could be improved. Here are some of the Evernote Cons.
There are no simple functions to export you notes directly into the likes of Microsoft Office or Google Docs. Which isn’t ideal when you convert larger notes into more formal documents.
Evernote doesn’t categorize or label new notes, it is left to the user to manually rename each note after you have created it. If you are like me and tend to delay this side of things it doesn’t take long before your sidebar is populated by a mess of unnamed notes.
Restricted Free Version
While it is perfect for a single user making simple notes, one of the big drawbacks with the free system is the 60mb Monthly upload limit. This can easily be achieved with just a few notes that are heavy in content like audio or video.
Can be Expensive
The premium version for a single user isn’t too bad at $7.99 per month. However, businesses might quickly find the price prohibitive, for the business package the cost is $14.99 per user, per month. For comparison, the pro package offered by Notion costs $8 per user, per month.
No Easy Share Function
It can be difficult to share the contents of a note to people that are not Evernote users. For example, using Google Drive or OneDrive allows you to set up a shared folder and easily let people access whatever you want to share. Some kind of feature like this would be a great plus for this software.
It might seem unfair to criticize a note-taking application for not having lots of features that are out with its scope. But when comparing organizational software, particularly when building comparison against a full-featured suite like Notion, then this lack of features could be considered a drawback.
Advantages that Notion has over Evernote
In this section we are looking at what specific advantages that Notion has when comparing it to Evernote.
If you are looking for a complete toolkit and not just a note-taking app (albeit a very good one) then Notion is by far your better option. The sheer variety of tasks that you can achieve within this app far outshines anything that Evernote has to offer.
Whilst Notion is a great note-taker in its own right, you can also use it as a calendar, finance monitoring, tasks and task assignments, web-page design, document writing and much more.
When it comes to cost and when comparing like-for-like pro packages, then Notion is a hands down winner. Notion costs about $7 per user less each month.
Better Free Version
The Evernote free version is useful as a personal note taking app, it is limited in functionality and has strict and low data use restrictions. The Notion free version, whilst still restricted to a single user has a wider range of features that make it far more powerful as an organizational tool.
Better for Collaboration
Notion was built to service the needs of teams and to encourage and streamline collaboration between team members. Managing shared documents within Notion is easy as are many of the other collaboration features like assigning tasks, creating wikis, multiple users synchronously editing a document, calendars, reminders and prompts and setting project deadlines and milestones.
Many of these features Evernote just can’t compete with.
Better for Viewing Data
The number of ways you can view your data within Notion is far greater than any similar features that Evernote can offer.
Advantages Evernote has over Notion
Evernote doesn’t pretend to offer the number of features that Notion can, it is a specialist application and as such it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn the first advantage it has over Notion.
This is the bread-and-butter feature of this application and it delivers it what it promises. In the Notion application creating a note can be overly complicated, Evernote has obviously simplified the process. Another factor is how the applications store and deal with the notes. With Evernote the application behaves the same regardless of how many notes you have created, whereas with Notion many users have reported their software becomes sluggish once you have lots of notes stored, particularly on the mobile platforms.
Better Search System
As noted in the Notion cons system, the search system within the software has room for improvement. Evernote has developed a deceptively strong search function that allows you to predefine search modifiers and operands to create custom searches. It is similar to Google’s advanced search options and is far more effective at pinpointing data than Notion’s system.
Simpler to Use
If all you are after is a note taking system, then Evernote is the winner. This specialization is what makes it a simpler piece of software to set up and master.
Who Should Use Notion?
Notion is suitable for pretty much everybody: personal use, students, entrepreneurs, agencies, small and medium businesses. If you are looking for a fully featured and highly customizable tool that can take over a huge variety of tasks that otherwise would require separate software solutions, then Notion is a better all-round solution. It is particularly strong for organizing the workflow and responsibilities of team-based projects.
Who Should Use Evernote?
If your primary purpose for the software is as a Note-taking tool then Evernote is a great option. It is a powerful organizational tool, but it works better in this aspect if it’s combined with other software, so users that currently use applications like Trello or Salesforce and want to add strong note taking functions to your software stack then Evernote would also be a potential solution, due to its integration possibilities.
Which is Better for Project Management?
Without a doubt Notion is the better option, if only for the sheer flexibility of the software and the number of project management tasks it can be configured to perform. Evernote is quite capable of many of these features, particularly if integrated with other apps, but it cannot compete against what Notion can offer.
Which is Better for Note Taking?
We have to give this one Evernote; the clue is in the name. Evernote has simpler and faster Note Taking capabilities. It is an app designed specifically to perform this function and as such its note taking features far outweigh Notion’s. The search system for retrieving notes is also far more powerful than that of Notion.
Which is Better for Collaboration?
Both these software suites are more than adequate when it comes to collaboration, but Notion wins this category too. It has been designed from the bottom up with this in mind, and it shows, from the ability to share uploaded documents and files to the creation of team wikis, it has just about every collaboration tool you could think of.
Pricing Notion vs Evernote
- FREE Plan (aka “Personal”)
- Personal Pro 4$
- Team 8$
- Enterprise 20$
- FREE plan (Basic)
- Premium 7.99$
- Business 14.99$
Conclusion: Our Final Verdict is…
This is a bit like comparing chalk and cheese, both bits of software are amongst the leaders in their field and both offer great features that will make the right user a happy person. If you are just looking for a simple note taking piece of software that works without too much faffing about then Evernote might be the right choice.
For those who want something more from their software and don’t mind spending some time getting it up and running exactly as they like, then the best option is Notion.
Want to read more about Notion and other tools like Trello, Asana, OneNote, Basecamp…?
Have a look at our Notion “vs” software reviews here: