Question

Any suggestions for a free tool that can be used to share non-design deliverables with one-time clients?

Our team recently completed a project for a client and has begun aggregating the deliverables to present to them. Until now, we've either thrown these assets (a combination of links, text, images, and videos) straight into a neatly-sectioned email or on to a Google Doc/Sheet to present.

I want to believe there is a free tool that presents a much more friendly experience and can house all of these assets for clients to reference at any time. Notion came to mind because of its versatility but adding guests to a page requires them to create an account (an additional 4 steps) and making the share link public for quick access presents security concerns. Airtable has a great quick-access shared view feature although you're somewhat limited in the design.

Look forward to hearing any suggestions!

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Anderson760's avatar
2 months ago

I wouldn't underestimate email combined with clean links to google docs, dropbox specific links, etc. I think clients primarily work out of email so, especially when it comes to making sure they're able to look up the information again. For example there may be a work flow where they see the email, forward and comment on it privately among their team, and then respond back to that email for updates. If they have to learn a new tool and remember where to go for that, that could cause additional friction.

We think about this quite a bit with the products we build at our company (MightyScout), since we target digital marketing agencies in particular. While we don't have a solution yet i'll definitely keep this in mind. As a product designer the way i'd approach it is giving your company a custom domain e.g. deliverables.yourcompany.com/brand that you could then have as your source for this type of stuff. And then on that page it would have the content assets and links that are appropriate.

Now that I think of it, you might be able to hack something together using slideshare, so the first page is a table of contents with clickable links, and the subsequent pages can be something they click through. I do think this feels like a lot more work than a well structured email though but I can understand presenting deliverables to a client can be worth it.

5 points
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @Anderson760 )
2 months ago

Super helpful @Anderson760 - thanks for the advise. For time-sensitivity purposes, we're likely going to continue along the same path that we use (and what you touched on): an email with links to google docs.

It's definitely not the prettiest but for ease of use and overall functionality, it's hard to beat.

3 points
Anderson760's avatar
@Anderson760 (replying to @NBNite )
a month ago

No problem, looks like I found something btw, it's not free but $200 a year might not be too bad depending on how many clients you have https://client-portal.io/

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Anderson760 )
2 months ago

Ohhhh love the Slideshare idea! And depending on your client, most companies love presentations.

On the idea of putting it on your domain, seems like there should be some self-hosted/open-source option here. I guess a lightweight CMS (Jekyll/Kirby) could do the job though without needing something custom-designed for client work.

2 points
imaginedesigner's avatar
2 months ago

I think Dropbox Paper will do the magic.

4 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @imaginedesigner )
2 months ago

Does Dropbox Paper let you share a link to a document that doesn't require the viewer to login?

1 point
imaginedesigner's avatar
@imaginedesigner (replying to @maguay )
2 months ago

Yes. Just close the sign in pop up. If you are a premium user, you can tweak the sharing settings. Here is a test link
https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/sql89lq3ixn6oufgs4zam/Sample-test.paper?dl=0&rlkey=y8wz0mzncl2kpetlxr8czs5lz

1 point
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @imaginedesigner )
2 months ago

Thanks @imaginedesigner
Adding Dropbox Paper to the list and will check it out!

1 point
ashpodel's avatar
a month ago

I just discovered Dropbox Spaces which might be the goldilocks solution here, since it sounds like you are doing a final hand-off to a one-time client.

Asides from adding most file types, here a few things that make it stand out.
- You can add "Shortcuts" which is a web link as a file type. You can organize it in folders like any other file. This might be my favorite feature. For a project that I am in the midst of, I am taking Google Drive links strewn about my email inbox and organizing them in a Dropbox Space.
- You get a rich text description area on top. You can even add to-dos and you can assign things to people (may not be useful to you since you are handing things off)
- This I haven't tested, but their claim that their search goes beyond filename matching, and you can use keywords for what's in a photo.

Strangely you cannot add Dropbox paper files to a space yet (ha!) until they push out some new 2020 edition of Paper to their entire user base.

4 points
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @ashpodel )
a month ago

This sounds awesome @ashpodel - I'm definitely going to give it a look. Thanks for recommending.

2 points
maguay's avatar
2 months ago

This might be overkill, but the first thing that came to mind was Basecamp for Clients, where Basecamp has built-in features to invite clients into projects. You can choose what to show clients—from full progress on every task so they know where things stand, to just specific messages in the project. The latter could be a way to send the deliverables in a more formatted way. Other client-focused CRMs have similar features (Pancake comes to mind as a self-hosted option)—though again, they're typically built a bit more around showing progress, getting feedback, and billing/invoicing than in shipping the set of completed things.

Another idea could be to make a landing page for each project. You could put the content in a Carrd page and password protect it (though that would require a Pro Plus plan at $49/yr), or spin up a new WordPress.com page for the content and password protect that.

Or a slimmed down idea: Make a single-page HTML file (or even PDF) and share it with something like Droplr or CloudApp that gives you a unique link to share the file.

For my personal content freelance work (blog posts, tutorials, UX writing, content plans—all stuff that's essentially text plus images), I've always sent the content in a Google Doc. It's far from the best writing experience, but still has the best collaboration tools, and makes it easy to share stuff with specific people.

You're right: There should be something better here.

3 points
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @maguay )
2 months ago

@maguay - Hadn't checked out Basecamp for Clients yet, will look into that and report back.
The landing page/CMS/Carrd options are great aesthetically but lack the feedback and collaboration aspect - almost the complete opposite of a Google Doc.

I definitely think there's a market for a product like this ; simple enough for non-technical users to put together something well-designed, easy enough to password protect and share with clients to view with 1 click, and with collaboration tools to provide comments and feedback in real-time.

2 points
Anderson760's avatar
@Anderson760 (replying to @NBNite )
a month ago

Hey Noam, would you be open to hoping on a quick call? Would love to learn more detail about the problem you're facing. I sent a connection request on Linkedin

1 point
awwstn's avatar
2 months ago

Looks like this is a pretty common feature request for Notion, so maybe they're building it.

Is this purely for presenting to clients, or do you do a lot of back and forth collaboration as well? (in other words, is it a requirement for clients to be able to edit and/or comment in-line?)

2 points
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @awwstn )
2 months ago

@awwstn - Thanks for sharing this. Notion seems to be pretty good at implementing common requests, so I hope this is something they can get to soon (although seeing requests from Jan 2019 doesn't make me so confident).

Our use here mostly involves sharing a list of 10-15 different deliverables to a client (regular URL, embed link, folder with images) and the hope would be to have these all sit in one location rather than in an email where some are hyperlinked, others are attached, and some are included as a Google Drive link.
It would also be great for clients to be able to comment directly on a certain section rather than responding to an email thread and referencing a specific item.

2 points
beckstead's avatar
a month ago

Basecamp with public link.

2 points
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