Notion Review – The Good and Bad for 2023
Over the years, we’ve tried just about every project management solution out there. From Trello and Asana to ClickUp, Coda, Notion, and Airtable, we’ve managed our work at one time or another in all of them. While Notion is a great tool, there are dozens of others out there, each with its own quirks.
If you’re wondering if Notion’s worth the hype, you’re in the right place. In this review, we’ll cover what it’s good at, where it could improve, and which plan you should choose—all based on our hands-on experience.
Notion Compared to the Best Project Management Software
Project management software is only as good as its ability to fit your style of work. Our goal isn’t to tell you which option is the best of the best, but instead to help you find one that syncs with how you already work. As such, it’s important to look at all of your options. A few of our favorite alternatives to Notion include:
Monday.com is similar to Notion in terms of flexibility and customization, but comes with more visualizations, advanced automations, and project management features. Get your first 30 days free.
ClickUp is a traditional project management tool that’s easy to get started with and focused on fostering collaboration among dispersed teams. Try it free and upgrade to a paid plan when you’re ready.
Smartsheet delivers advanced work management, automation, and no-code capabilities to build streamlined systems across your business. Snag a free trial of any Smarthsheet plan.
Want to see more options? Check out our full list of the best project management software to learn more about our favorite tools, how we used them, and the standout qualities of each one. You can also check out our head-to-head comparisons of Notion vs. Monday, Airtable vs Notion, or Notion vs Asana to see how Notion stacks up to its biggest competitors.
Since you’re still here, let’s get straight into the review.
Notion: The Good and the Bad
Notion is customizable and insanely powerful if you’re willing to put in the time to learn and configure it to match your workflows. However, that power and flexibility doesn’t come without it’s downsides—it can be hard to get started and the platform can feel disorganized and messy until you get it just right.
We’ve used it to track projects in the past and we organized all of our research for this review (plus wrote the entire draft in Notion) to help us understand more about its pros and cons for business users.
What Notion Is Good At
Versatile capability: With Notion, you can consolidate the swarm of tools you currently use into one flexible platform. No longer do you need separate solutions for task management, note-taking, documentation, and content creation. Notion replaces all of these and combines them into a tailored workspace.
Say you run a marketing agency and you juggle multiple clients and campaigns at once. Notion can be your central hub to oversee all these projects in one place. Create separate pages for each client to store details like objectives, timelines, and key documents. Within each client page, build task lists, calendars, and content libraries to keep everyone on track and informed. And, with unlimited storage and content blocks on most plans, you have the freedom to add more information and features to your workspace without constraints.
Asynchronous collaboration: Inside the Notion platform, you and your team can work together in real-time or on your own time. You have one place to store everything from documents and spreadsheets to tasks, notebooks, and project boards. All your team’s information is centralized, making it easy for everyone to find what they need whenever they need it. Updates happen in real-time, so you’ll always be in sync with the latest changes.
Notion’s flexible infrastructure means you can assign owners and collaborators to any page or block of information. Team members can work when it suits them, but progress will be visible to everyone instantly. You can track every change and users can comment on anything to provide feedback, ask questions, or move the discussion along. Customizable notifications ensure that no update, mention, or comment goes unseen, eliminating the need to chase down colleagues for answers or input.
Plus, it integrates with tools you already use, like Slack and Google Calendar, for seamless communication and coordination across platforms. Notion gives you the best of both worlds—a shared workspace where your team can work together whenever and however they want.
Relational databases: Notion gives businesses an easy yet powerful way to connect and manage information. You don’t need a degree in computer science to build databases that serve up custom views of your data. Create rich, multifaceted interfaces that bring together all types of content—text, images, files, clients, projects, whatever you want—into one place.
Say you want to link your project management tasks to key clients and files. In Notion, it’s a breeze. Connect your tasks database to your client and file databases with a few clicks. Now you have a holistic view of everything for each project. Need to see all the tasks due this week for Client X? Filter for that client and date range. Wondering if you’re still waiting on feedback for Task Y? Check the relation to see if the file has been uploaded yet. With roll-ups, you can even display total task counts for each client or project.
The possibilities are vast. Set up a content calendar that connects to blog post production, social media updates, and the imagery or files associated with each. Build an employee database that links to individual tasks, goals, schedules, and more. Sync your Notion databases to external tools like Asana, Jira, or GitHub for automatic two-way updating. The intuitive interface means you can visualize and manage complex data in whatever way makes sense for your needs.
While Notion won’t replace a full-scale database solution, its simple yet powerful way to build relational databases make it the perfect platform for anyone looking to organize information in a flexible, user-friendly way.
Everything’s a page: This concept is the secret behind Notion’s unparalleled flexibility. A page in Notion can be as straightforward as a document with some text and images. But it can also be a doorway to an entirely interconnected wiki or a database housing tasks, events, contacts, and more. Each page is a blank canvas for you to customize as needed.
Want to keep all project details in one space? Make a main project page and nest subpages for tasks, meetings, files, and resources underneath it. Need an knowledge base? Start a main wiki page and link out to topic pages from there. Using a database? Every entry in the database gets its own page where you can add additional fields, embed files, or create nested pages.
The “everything’s a page” philosophy allows you to build a digital workspace tailored to your needs. You can connect and arrange pages in whatever way makes sense and use templates to swiftly create pages for meeting notes, project plans, or other common actions. The power comes in how easily you can link pages together into a cohesive, navigable whole.
50+ block types: Blocks in Notion serve as unique elements within a page, helping you build out pages that can do a whole lot more than store content. Notion comes with over 50 different block types that you can place anywhere with an easy drag-and-drop interface.
Want to embed a Google Map visualization or a social media post? Drop in an Embed block. Running equations and computations? Deploy the Math block and Notion’s LaTeX syntax. AI blocks, buttons that trigger automations, synced blocks that update everywhere—with a quick slash command, you can implement it into a page. Whether your needs are straightforward or complex, the variety of responsive and embeddable blocks lets you build custom solutions to accomplish any goal.
Granular sharing permissions: Notion gives businesses full control over sharing their workspaces, pages and content. With customizable permissions, you’re in full control of who sees what. Create permission groups to automatically provide the right level of access to certain team members—all you have to do is add someone to a group and they’ll have access to exactly what you’d prefer. You can also invite guests and outside collaborators to specific pages without sharing your whole workspace.
On Notion’s Enterprise plan, admins have advanced controls like overriding settings for certain groups, restricting page sharing, disabling guests for select pages, or applying rules across the entire workspace. They can also designate special admin users who can make changes but not view billing details. Your team’s digital workspace can be an open book, locked down tight, or anything in between. The permissions are in your hands.
Notion AI: Notion’s artificial intelligence-powered features can take your productivity to the next level. There’s a free trial period so you can try this paid add-on (an extra $8 to $10 per user per month) before upgrading. Keep in mind that this add-on applies to everyone on your plan, not just the users you select. While it’s cheaper than some other AI writing assistants out there, it can get pricey if you have a lot of users.
Notion’s AI can help automate thought-intensive, repetitive tasks like meeting summaries, analysis of research, and brainstorming next steps. It can also act as a personal editor to improve your writing in just a few seconds by fixing grammar and reorganizing your thoughts. It can even explain a technical concept in simple terms or change the tone of your writing from optimistic to cautious with the click of a button.
Stuck facing a blank page? Notion AI provides blog post topics and other prompts to get your creativity flowing. It will even continue writing for you once you’ve gotten started. The possibilities are endless, from asking questions about document content to translating text, listing pros and cons, and more.
While Notion AI turbocharges productivity, it does have its limits. It won’t write full blog posts or memos from scratch—rather than making something out of nothing, it’s meant to enhance and support human thinking, not replace it.
What Notion Is Lacking
Out-of-the-box readiness: Navigating the maze of Notion’s options can feel overwhelming, time consuming, and annoying if you’re looking for a hit-the-ground-running sort of solution. Its customizability can leave users unsure of where or how to start.
To get the most out of Notion, you’ll need to invest time thinking through how to best structure workspaces, pages, projects, tasks, and tables for your team. And understanding Notion’s advanced features like relational databases involves a steep learning curve that not everyone wants to commit to climbing.
It took us weeks of building, testing, and tweaking to get things right for us. But, because Notion is so flexible, there’s also no consensus on the “right” way to use it. Notion offers templates to get you started, but ultimately you’re on your own to figure out what works for you. If you’re willing to invest the time to really make Notion your own, it can be a powerful tool for improving productivity, collaboration, and workplace organization.
Easy text formatting: When you first start using Notion, building documents and formatting content may feel unfamiliar compared to tools like Google Docs. Lists, in particular, work differently in Notion and can be frustrating until you’ve mastered the nuances. Figuring out how to switch between numbered lists and bullets, add and rearrange items, and format lists the way you want requires patience and practice.
Pasting content into Notion from other sources often doesn’t translate well and can result in issues like extra spaces, undefined bullet points, and lost formatting. Notion follows its own set of rules for bringing in and displaying content, so you’ll often have to clean up pasted text. That being said, Notion offers some elements of customization not found in traditional document tools, like layouts with up to five columns and the ability to embed anything.
Key project management features: Notion offers robust project management capabilities, but is missing a few nice-to-have features found in other tools. Notion lacks built-in time tracking tools, though you can add time manually using custom fields. Notion doesn’t provide the timers and time capturing other tools offer.
Notion also doesn’t have Gantt charts for mapping complex projects with dependencies and milestones. Surprisingly, there’s also no easy way to create charts and graphs from your data. To analyze productivity, workload, or other metrics, you’ll have to export data or pay for an add-on service. For some, Notion’s missing reports won’t matter, but data-driven teams may want better built-in reporting.
Last, the software is also missing built-in team chat that so many other PM platforms deliver. You can comment on tasks and projects, but Notion isn’t meant to replace chat apps like Slack. Notion’s Slack integration helps fill this gap to an extent, fortunately.
Suitability for large databases: While Notion offers useful database features and tools for small-scale organization and simple information management, it is not meant to replace full-fledged database tools. It has significant limitations for large, complex data sets or intense calculations.
For example, pasting in large amounts of data to a Notion database often causes the app to crash or freeze. In our experience, adding around 1,000 rows of information or more overwhelmed Notion, forcing us to close the app and start over. Notion’s performance also suffers as your databases grow bigger or you add more advanced formulas. At a certain point, it simply can’t keep up.
Notion also fails to offer data visualization options for interactive analysis or reporting. You have access only to raw numbers, text, and basic sorting. To visualize data in charts, graphs, or dashboards, you’ll need to export Notion information to other tools.
Notion Plans and Pricing
Notion doesn’t have different products, but it does have four different plans and a separate AI add-on. Those plans include:
- Free – unlimited for solo users and a usage-based free trial for teams
- Plus – $8 to $10 per user per month for small, scrappy teams
- Business – $15 to $18 per user per month for use across multiple functions
- Enterprise – custom pricing
From a high level, Notion is relatively affordable compared to most other project management tools on the market. Now, let’s explore each plan, what you can do with them, and who should use which one.
Notion’s free plan offers individuals and small teams a fresh approach to organizing work. With unlimited blocks, you have the flexibility to build any page for any purpose. Although if two or more of you collaborate, you can only test out different blocks temporarily.
A shared workspace brings your team together to work on documents, projects, or whatever is important to your team. And, by integrating with tools like Slack and GitHub that you already use, Notion ensures a seamless experience. Few other PM platforms offer integrations on their free-forever plans.
Notion’s free plan also gives you seven-day page history so you can review changes or revert back if needed. You can invite up to 10 guests to collaborate in your workspace. For file uploads, the limit is 5 MB per file. Synced databases are supported with 100 rows per database.
While the free plan has restrictions, it gives individuals and small teams more than enough to support how you work. Notion’s free plan offers a simple way to access a smarter space to write, plan, and get things done.
Notion’s Plus plan, formerly the Team plan, gives small groups and teams access to the software with fewer limitations. For $8 to $10 per user per month, you get unlimited content blocks, storage, and functionality to manage projects and daily tasks.
With unlimited blocks, you have the flexibility to build any page for any purpose without restriction. And by lifting the file upload limit, you can add content or assets of any size to bring your ideas to life. Notion extends the page history to 30 days so you can review and restore previous versions as needed. You’re also able to invite up to 100 guests to collaborate in your workspace.
The Plus plan is the cheapest to offer access to unlimited synced databases from tools like Jira, GitHub, and Asana. You’re also able to export your entire workspace as HTML, Markdown, or CSV files, giving you more ways to use and share content with your team.
The Plus plan maintains the same integrations, workspace, and page analytics as the Free plan but with greater capacity and functionality for teams. With more guests, unlimited blocks and files, extended page history, and exported workspaces, the Plus plan provides teams a comprehensive solution to streamline how they work together.
If your small group or team has outgrown the limitations of Notion’s Free plan, the Plus tier offers advanced capabilities to better plan, organize, and manage the work you do every day.
Notion’s Business is a great choice for larger companies looking for an intuitive way to bring multiple teams and tools together into one platform without sacrificing security for $15 to $18 per user per month.
With SAML single sign-on, your team gets secure and simplified access to Notion. Private teamspaces give you better control over workspace and data access.
Notion extends stored page history to 90 days so you have ample time to review versions and rewind to old ones. You’re able to invite up to 250 guests to collaborate in your workspace. And with advanced page analytics, you gain detailed insights into how your team interacts with and views the content in your Notion workspaces.
Notion Enterprise is the solution for larger businesses that demand more. Get robust customization, tight security controls, and dedicated support to build a hub that’s capable of centralizing everything.
This top tier lets you tailor nearly every feature to match your needs. Set custom limits for guests, create as many workspaces as you’d like, and enjoy unlimited document history so you never have to worry about outgrowing the plan or losing access to things you might need later.
In terms of security, you get detailed audit logs that offer unparalleled oversight into every activity happening on the platform. The Enterprise plan also comes with more granular permission controls to keep everything secure, plus an admin search feature that makes it easy to ensure everyone has the right access—or fix it if they don’t.
You can even automate user provisioning to minimize risk of human error while getting new team members up to speed as fast as possible.
For companies needing over 100 seats, a dedicated success manager can help you get set up, make sure everything’s configured in the best way possible, and help guide you through new features so you’re always ahead of upcoming changes.
Notion is a dynamic digital workspace and collaboration solution for teams willing to put in the work to build it out for their needs. It takes time to get it right, but when you do, you’ll wonder how you ever worked without it.
However, alternatives like Monday.com, ClickUp, or Smartsheet might be better for you if you want more advanced project management features, visualizations and charts, or more powerful automations.