Today, I am going to talk about two newer interior design programs on the market and my tried and true. This month I spent some time researching and playing around with Ivy and Mydoma and Studio Designer so I could report back my findings to you because we are always trying to make business easier and more efficient.
There are pros and cons to each program and unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as to which one is "best". They all are very good options, you'll want to pick the one that works best for running your business.
Full disclosure: I have always used Studio Designer, both in my own business and when I worked for Michael Smith. Actually, there was a small period when I first opened my design firm that I used QuickBooks, but I try to forget about that period of redundancy and disorganization.
Studio Designer: For me, Studio Designer is the ultimate program for interior designers. It is a very robust and extensive program for every operation a design firm could face. This is a one-stop-shop for all your interior designer application needs. Because of this Studio Designer can feel overwhelming for a novice designer. It is an accounting program and project management program wrapped up in one. You can manage your entire business from this program. Accounting, Expediting, Ordering, Timelines, Reminders, Logistics, Inventory and so much more.
Pros: Robust. This is a highly complex program and many options for customization. There are fewer limitations that the other programs. This program was designed for the full scope of running a full-scale interior design business. They are always adding new features - just this month they added the bank import feature. Payscape integration to accept credit card payments on proposals and invoices. (Read whether you should accept credit card payments here.)
Cons: May need an accountant that specializes in the program. User interface is more technical, it is not as pretty or intuitive as other programs. No payroll. Free email support, but only for basic questions for a year.
Pricing: $45 per user per month
Try it: Studio Designer does not offer a free trial, but they do offer pro-rated refunds, if you wanted to try it for a few days for a few bucks. www.studiodesigner.com/
Bottom Line: The premier program for top interior design firms. The steep learning curve in the beginning makes up for efficiency in the daily running of your business.
UPDATE: I've received some questions about programs for designer's outside the US. I don't have any experience with this, however, Studio Designer does have some international clients. Depending on your sales tax situation it could still work for you outside the US.
Ivy: Intuitive design for low learning curve. Easily accepts credit card payments with direct integration with QuickBooks online. What it lacks in functionality, it makes up for in the easy-to-use design. Ivy picks up where Studio Designer lacks in user-friendlyness. The Project Tracker tool allows you to see various dates and notes on the same screen. You can view project timelines without added data entry because estimate ship dates automatically go on Project Calendar. I have no doubt that Ivy will keep adding functionality that will make it a strong challenger to Studio Designer.
Pros: No fee for additional users. Integrates with accountant-preferred QuickBooks. You can also export this information to excel to create schedules for sub-contractors - a lighting schedule for your electrician, for example. Easily see in a pie chart where you are spending your time based on time billing. Great support and community.
Cons: Two paid programs to do what Studio Designer does in one. You must open QuickBooks to do any accounting - pay vendors, track payments, see what's been paid or not. Not as customizable as Studio Designer.
Pricing: $59 per month (less if paid yearly), plus QuickBooks fees $40 per month
Try it: Ivy offers a 30 day refund. www.ivymark.com/
Bottom Line: Great basic project management program. Well-designed and easy to use. Choose this for better design and ease of use, but less functionality.
UPDATE: As of March 2018, Ivy sold to Houzz and has some designers questioning their partnership and ethics. I suggest doing your research on this before taking the plunge into Ivy.
Mydoma Studio: Mydoma is great organizational tool for your interior design projects. I love systems and process and creating automations so that your business runs easier and Mydoma helps with this. The Mydoma platform helps with the onboarding process, a place to keep project info (ex: space info, before images, measurements, inspiration images), and a place to collaborate with your clients. Using Mydoma you are creating a online design studio/project binder to collaborate with your clients. You can have new clients sign contract, fill out onboarding questionnaire, and send initial payment all within the program. Great if you do e-design or smaller design packages.
Pros: Great for organization. All in one place onboarding and client communications. This is essentially a virtual client binder/ collaboration studio to keep all project notes and documents.
Cons: Limited if you run a full-service interior design firm. Accounting is in QuickBooks, double entry required for products.
Pricing: $59 per month for Pro, plus QuickBooks fees $40 per month
Try it: Free 30-day trial. www.mydomastudio.com
Bottom Line: Best for smaller client-designer project collaborations with little purchasing. Great for e-design or preset packages.
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