Monthly Archives: June 2020

Review: Milanote

I just tried Milanote for the first time and I have to say, I love it. Full disclosure: Milanote contacted me and asked if I’d consider adding it to the list of collaboration apps on one of my blog posts. They offered me a lifetime pro account in exchange. I said I’d be happy to try it out and write an honest review, which this is, but it’s only fair to tell you that they did upgrade my trial account to pro at no cost (thanks, Milanote!). However, the review is entirely mine and, as usual, I’m speaking my mind here.

Mood board for a quilt in Milanote
My first mood board in Milanote

Milanote is… I don’t even know how to classify it, it’s so versatile. It can do kanban boards like Trello, and mood boards faster and easier than how I usually do them (uh… in Illustrator… when all you have is a hammer, after all), and checklists and swatches and comments and… there’s a lot there. It has dozens of templates to choose from, for design and software/agile and teaming and planning and even writing. I picked the Mood Board template because I wanted to see how it would work for planning a new quilt that I hope to make. You know, someday.

After adding a heading, a picture of the quilt, and a link to my selected pattern (Refraction by Quilting JetGirl/Yvonne Fuchs), I headed over to Unsplash to find mood pictures. I did a bunch of work downloading the pictures and copying the credits into a file, as I usually do, and then I uploaded some of them into Milanote. When I had used all the photo spaces that came with the template, I clicked the “add image” button, and that’s when Milanote blew my mind. It’s already linked up with Unsplash. I typed the same search terms in Milanote, and then just clicked each Unsplash photo to add it, right there on my board. Each one popped in beautifully with the photo credit already attached.

Adding an Unsplash photo in Milanote
Adding a photo from Unsplash.com in Milanote

After that, I just started writing this review because I had to rave about it. The interface is delightful. It’s pretty and elegant and intuitive, with just enough snap-to help so that your board looks perfect, but not so much that you spend a lot of time nudging stuff and swearing (I’m looking at you, MS Word). The different cards (checklist, photo, swatch, comment, heading…) behave exactly as I expected, except where they were even better than I expected. Software companies always talk about delighting their customers. Milanote, I am delighted.

I didn’t test the collaborative aspects, but there’s a tab to add collaborators (editors) and it looks as easy as you’d expect. You can also add comment cards and use @ mentions to your teammates to ask them questions. You can export the board as a PDF or an image, or you can create a view-only link like this one. Have a look. You can even look at a board on your phone and add a “quick note,” which appears in a special column accessible from a menu icon.

The one drawback I found was the color picker. It’s a very simple one, and I wanted an eyedropper so I could pick colors out of the photos on my board. (If there is one, I didn’t find it.) I ended up flipping back and forth between Milanote and a hex color picker in another tab, which was unsatisfying. I did love being able to paste the hex color into the swatch template and have the color fill the swatch, though.

Milanote's color picker
Milanote’s color picker (there’s also a small swatch palette)

After about 45 minutes (including writing this review) I ended up with the board pictured above. I’m left feeling like there is more to discover, in a good way, and looking forward to creating more boards later on. I’m curious how it would behave with multiple people working on a board at once — something to test another time. For now, I definitely recommend giving it a try for any planning or design project you’ve got coming up.

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