My Notion Design Language deviates slightly from Notion’s official terminology.

Since I use this terminology throughout my Notion client work, tutorials, and templates, I wanted to share a little insight into my thought process and design language when creating Notion workspaces.

Let’s dive in!

Account:

This refers to your Notion user account. Notion’s internal terminology refers to accounts and workspaces. By Notion’s definition, an account is your user account that is tied to your login credentials. From within your user account, you can also gain access to other people’s/organization’s accounts; these are referred to as workspaces by Notion.

When I am working with other people, I need to differentiate between what I call a workspace and what Notion calls a workspace. Notion’s “workspace” is what I call a “workspace account”. My “workspace” is an organizational framework within a Notion workspace account.

Example:

These are the Notion workspaces I have access to through my Notion account.

Sidebar:

I believe in a clean sidebar. Instead of using the sidebar to organize your Notion dashboards, databases, and pages, I recommend creating high-level workspaces dedicated to a specific area of your life or topic.

Example:

My Notion Account Sidebar

Workspace:

The high-level organizational structure for a specific area of your life. These are what live in your Notion sidebar.

A workspace can include areas within its organizational hierarchy (and usually does).

My Notion workspaces are structured and navigated in a similar way to traditional websites. Most workspaces are built on a “Home” navigational page. This page does not contain contextual information; it simply provides a navigational framework to make it easy to find the information you need.

Examples:

My Biz HQ is a shared high-level workspace that includes dashboards to manage different areas of my business.

My Life OS is a private high-level workspace that includes dashboards to manage different areas of my personal life.

Areas:

These are the functional areas of your life or business. I recommend using a workspace to manage high-level areas of your life (Example: Business vs Personal) and then managing sub-areas within the dashboard.

Examples:

These are the functional areas of my business.

These are the high-level organizational areas of my personal life.

Dashboard (Contextual Dashboard):

These are structured pages where you can view information relevant to the theme of that dashboard. In my Notion builds and templates, these are created using a combination of linked database views and page text/embeds to provide high-level information related to the dashboard.

Examples:

I use my Notion Design Hub to find design inspiration from other creators and store my Notion Design Portfolio. I manage template builds and storage in a second Notion account.

I manage all content creation in my Content Hub. I have sections to manage each stage of the content creation process and dashboard pages to zoom in on different content types.

Databases:

I use databases to store information. I love storing everything in databases because it’s much easier to view relevant information on contextual dashboards or even remix HOW you’re viewing the information, by using Notion’s different database views.

Some databases consist of “entry-only” data (no page content), such as my Actions database, while other databases function as a filing system for pages, like my Notes+Ideas database.

Examples:

My Actions database contains property data only; no page content.

My Notes+Ideas Database contains notebook “tabs” for different types of notes.

This article started as a voice memo that I added to a note, wrote some freeform ideas, and eventually it became a full-length article.

Pages:

I rarely use stand-alone pages in Notion. Most of the time, a “page” is usually either a database entry itself, a page that is built out into a dashboard, or a sub-page within a dashboard or database entry. Many of my dashboards often start as simple pages with bulleted lists of the content I want to collect/view on that dashboard, such as my Travel Life Vibes page.

Example:

My Travel Life Vibes page is a collection of topics I want to further research and include in the final dashboard.

Templates:

I use two different types of templates throughout my Notion workspaces.

The first are Database Templates. These are the templates you can create for new database entries. With database templates, you can apply default values to the database properties and create custom page content.

The second type of templates are Template Buttons. These are templates you can create inside a Template Button option and can be as simple or comprehensive as you’d like. I frequently use Template Buttons for creating new worksheets for clients or for bulk-updating my calendar with weekly or monthly recurring tasks.

In both cases, when I use a Database Template or a Template Button to create a full page item, I use brackets to indicate the item is a template like this → [TEMPLATE]. This makes searching and @ mentioning templates quick to find and differentiate from regular pages or database entries.

Example:

I use my Templates Hub to edit the database templates and template buttons used throughout my Notion workspaces.

Directory:

I use a Directory page to serve as an index for my Notion workspace. This helps me keep track of source databases and gives me a high-level overview of my workspace structure.

I keep my source databases “stored” on the primary dashboard page where they’re used. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember where the source database lives, so I keep a Directory page with shortcuts to every source database in my workspace.

In a shared team workspace, the Directory page serves as the databasement, with databases organized by workspace area. I include a database description so the purpose and integration of the database is clear to all team members.

Example:

I use the Directory page as an index for the primary dashboards and all databases used throughout my Notion workspaces.