What are smart files?

Understanding HoneyBook's smart files, what they can do, and how they fit into your business

Updated over a week ago

This article references smart files, our newest file experience offering more power and customization than ever.

Smart files allow you to easily create and manage every part of your client experience from onboarding, to service selection, to contracting, invoicing, making payments, and more! They're the simplest way to create a seamless client experience and enhance your own business processes.

In each smart file, you'll have full control over everything from visuals and styling to the steps and automations you include, so you can always customize to suit your needs, your services, your brand, and your process. Whether you use them to create individual files or entire experiences, smart files will work smarter and harder for you.

Learn more about how smart files work below, or check out everything you need to start building smart files now!

What are smart files?

Smart files are your client-facing documents and experiences. They allow you to create everything from simple, one-page invoices, contracts, and questionnaires all the way through to, for example, multi-step booking documents that let clients select a service, sign a contract, and make a payment in one fell swoop.

In fact, the flexibility of the smart files builder means you can create a truly endless number of experiences for your clients.

What can smart files do?

In each smart file, you can include any combination of:

...and design each element with your brand colors, custom fonts, and layouts that maximize the visual appeal!

All of your smart files can be shared easily with clients via email or a direct link, and can even be triggered to go out automatically when combined with an automation. Then, clients can open, review, and take action from any device—and you can track their progress and review responses in HoneyBook.

Not sure where to begin? Check out the Template Gallery for some great ideas and quick places to start.

  • HoneyBook Tip: Already a HoneyBook member who's familiar with our legacy files? Don't worry: smart files can do everything your legacy files could do, and more!

    All of your legacy files are still available—you can simply open them in the new builder—so there shouldn't be any interruption to your daily workflow. Learn how to open legacy files and templates in the smart files builder below.

How can I use smart files in my business process?

Since you can create smart files that represent any part (or combined parts) of your business process, you can send them any time you might otherwise send a PDF, Word doc, HoneyBook legacy file, or any documentation through contracting or invoicing platforms. Smart files can do it all!

Smart files allow you to do things like:

For example, your process might be:

  • Step 3: After you've got them hooked, send a booking smart file to seal the deal.

    Include a section for service selection, so the client can select the specific services or packages they'd like to book you for; follow it up with an itemized invoice (which dynamically updates based on the services selected) that allows the client to put down their deposit; and finish with a contract to sign electronically.

Boom—you're booked, without the back and forth.

Of course, you could go even further and send a smart file that includes a mood board or proofing doc for the client to sign off on, a smart file that offboards them down the line, requesting they leave you a review—whatever works for you!

🚀 Talk to a process expert: HoneyBook Pros can help you implement smart files and use them to their full potential.

What will my clients' experience with smart files be like?

Your client can receive smart files via an email, which will contain a button that directs them to the document; or, via a direct link in whatever channel makes sense to you.

Once they open the smart file, here's what they'll experience!

However you choose to share, your clients will notice how simple and seamless your process is—and, of course, will be impressed by your eye-catching designs!

Since you’re able to truly guide them through each step (and combine those steps into one smooth experience), they’ll book faster, develop even more trust in your business, and be so very excited to work with you.

How are smart files an improvement over PDFs or HoneyBook legacy files?

Smart files help you improve your client-facing documents’ look and feel, your business organization and efficiency, and your clients’ experience.

Compared to standard PDFs or HoneyBook's legacy files, smart files offer:

More process customization

Picture this: you’d like a client to review service options, answer questions about their project, schedule a session, sign a contract, and make their first payment.

With PDFs or Legacy Files, you’d likely be sending three files and multiple emails—a brochure, a questionnaire, a scheduling link, and a proposal. Lots of emails, lots of documents, lots of time required from both parties.

Now, you can include all of those actions in one smart file, so the client only receives a single email (or link) and document to complete all their required actions. In addition to drastically cutting back on email back-and-forth (phew!), this helps avoid potential miscommunications and response delays—and really shows off who you are to your clients in an authentic way.

More design customization

With endless layout possibilities; custom fonts and color schemes; additional content options like video, images, text and more; there are more opportunities to put your brand on display than ever before.

Better business outcomes

With all these process improvements comes a more seamless booking process; a process that moves faster both for you and your clients, building trust in the quality of your work as you effortlessly showcase your brand.

Access to lead forms

Lead forms are the public version of smart files—they allow you to create a public, custom inquiry or booking experience for potential (or returning!) clients, that can be shared with anyone via public links and distributed over any channel you choose.

Lead forms work in tandem with smart files: once you've brought a new lead or client into your clientflow with lead forms, consider connecting an automation that automatically sends further emails and smart files, to automate next steps.

How will smart files impact my existing process and my legacy files?

Been using HoneyBook for a while? Don't worry: all of your legacy files are still available—you can simply open them in the new builder—so there shouldn't be any interruption to your daily workflow. Learn how to open legacy files and templates in the smart files builder below.

Usually send a straightforward invoice file, presenting just the invoice and payment screen? A standalone contract? A one-page questionnaire? Keep things simple and keep those smart files to one page or action for your client to review—no need to switch things up, if they've been working!

But, though your existing process doesn’t have to change, smart files do offer the ability to enhance your business communications and your clients' experience. You can leverage the full capabilities of smart files by combining actions, cutting out steps in your process to create seamless, end-to-end client experiences that reduce back & forth...

...endlessly customize the design, look, and feel of smart files to truly show what makes you unique, valuable, and the best at what you do...

...or, simply apply your brand’s colors, fonts, and logos to make sure even the simplest smart file represents your brand to a T.

Opening legacy templates in the smart files builder

To open and update a legacy file template in the smart files builder, head to your Templates section. You'll see all of your existing templates here—just click to open, and all of your original content and actions will populate in the new builder!

  • HoneyBook Tip: Still want to work with your templates in legacy file form? Just head to your Legacy Templates tab instead.

From a project, you can open a legacy file template in the new builder simply by selecting Create New and selecting a smart file type. You'll see all of your existing templates to choose from—just click to open in the new builder, then share with your client.

  • HoneyBook Tip: Still want to send a standard legacy file? Just select one of the Legacy File type from the Create New menu.

And remember: you’ll still be able to access your legacy files for a while, but HoneyBook will eventually fully transition to smart files (though we'll let you know well before we do!).

Where can I learn more?

Check out our Getting started with smart files article for links to all the resources you'll need to build, send, and manage your smart files!

Still have questions? Feel free to send us a message by clicking the Question Mark icon on any HoneyBook page. Our team is always happy to help!

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