Trello vs Asana
Trello and Asana are two of the premier free collaboration and organization tools on the market right now. Both offer a good range of functionality at no charge, but also have “premium” or “professional” editions with enhanced features for large organizations and projects.
Trello first hit the market in 2011 and comes from Fog Creek Software, a business software developer that has been in operation since 2000. Asana was originally created by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and has become a primary organizational tool of many major companies such as Dropbox, Pinterest and Airbnb.
OneIMS Insider puts productivity tools to the test in this Trello vs Asana software showdown.
Trello: Bulletin Board 2.0
Rather than working directly from lists, Trello’s system is organized around boards. Each board resembles a social networking or mobile app window, and is composed of sets of lists. To those lists you add cards, which represent different elements of the task.
Cards can contain just about anything — instructions and notes, dialogue between team members, downloadable files or photos, just for a few common examples. Cards can even contain their own sub-lists if desired.
Trello Shines in Usability
Trello’s interface is patterned more after that of a mobile app. Aside from being much more visually appealing than Asana, the board system allows you to freely move your tasks around the screen as you see fit. It has the flexibility and familiarity of moving index cards around a cork board, but these cards can hold a whole lot more data.
Trello is 100% Mobile
Trello works very well on both desktops and touch-screen devices. While Asana is fine on desktops and laptops, it gets a little tougher to manage if you have to use a touch-screen device.
Optimized For Kanban
Trello is ideal for the Personal Kanban productivity method, a basic flow chart which tasks are moved across as progress as made. While Kanban doesn’t work for everyone, it’s very popular among marketing and software development teams. If you’re deeply into it as a work method, it simply isn’t possible with Asana’s structure.
Trello Integrates with Third-Party Apps
Trello’s developers have really focused on extending its core functionality by tying it in smoothly with a number of other apps. For example, if your project requires Gantt charts, you can import them directly and with no trouble from Ganttify.
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Flawless Team Collaboration
One of the great weaknesses of Asana at present is that though tasks can have multiple subscribers, they can only be assigned to one of those people at a time. Trello allows an unlimited number of people to be assigned to group tasks.
Tasks can be grouped and sorted by hashtag in Trello vs Asana which requires manually locating and clicking tasks from the master list.
Set Task Parameters To Advance Automatically
Unlike Asana, Trello tasks can be set to change and progress as due dates are reached. Asana will notify you when deadlines come, but task parameters still have to be manually altered by whoever the task is currently assigned to.
While you don’t have to set deadlines on an Asana task, there’s no automatic filtering of such tasks to a “later” or “someday” area. A header of this nature can be manually created, but tasks have to be manually moved to it. Trello allows tasks to be automatically flagged this way if they need to go on the back burner.
Asana: Teamwork Without Email
Asana has a simpler design and is more like using traditional office software than Trello is. Users create individual tasks, which can be grouped together under headers. Both the tasks and headers act as containers in which comments and links can be left and files can be attached.
All of the headers and tasks are presented in one long list at the center of the screen, but tasks can be designated as “private” so that only the creator can view them, or can be set to only be modified by certain team members.
Trello recently added a calendar view, but it’s not as user-friendly or simple as the one that Asana has had all along. Asana’s calendar view lets you automatically view all tasks by due date. Trello’s calendar is limited to dates set within each board, unless you manually feed each board into an iCalendar feed.
Items Don’t Get Lost
While Asana isn’t as pretty or user-friendly as Trello, it also doesn’t have the danger of cards getting lost behind other cards and forgotten about when a lot of tasks pile up. Asana’s simple list format always shows every remaining task and can easily be scrolled through. While the organization still leaves something to be desired sometimes, judicious use of headers keeps things from getting too cluttered.
Automatic Email Updates by Asana
Whenever a task is updated or commented on, Asana can be set to automatically email all the subscribed participants with the update details and new comments. Trello, for all its wonderful qualities, still does not offer this functionality without employing some slightly cumbersome third-party workarounds.
Building on the previous point, when comments and updates are emailed to users, users can add new comments to the task simply by replying to the email. It isn’t necessary to be logged into Asana to do this. Administrators can also enable the ability to create new tasks entirely via email.
Though Asana doesn’t have a formal “offline” mode, if you open it while online, disconnect and make changes while the browser is still open, and then reconnect, the changes will be automatically saved. Handy for temporary connection outages or moving between WiFi points while traveling.
Full Functionality In The Asana Free Version
Trello limits the free version to file uploads of a maximum of 10 MB. Asana does limit the number of users in the free version to 15, but doesn’t have the same file size restrictions and still has all the same administrative tools.
Asana tasks can be created almost at the speed of thought by any user. While it’s fairly easy to add information to boards in Trello once they’re created, actually setting up a board can be confusing, especially for new users.
Asana Integrates with Google Apps
Google threw over Asana as their in-house productivity app back in 2012, but that didn’t stop the Asana team from making Google integration a primary focus of their design. It’s very easy to hook it up with Google Drive and Google Apps for Business among other related apps.
In the end, both are very good and flexible organizers, especially considering that they’re free. Trello is better for those who think visually, while Asana will work better for those who are more comfortable organizing data in spreadsheets. Trello is easier to set up and more intuitive to navigate, but Asana is a little more feature-rich and gives more options to the top-level administrator who is overseeing everything. Asana is also a little better for long lists of tasks, as Trello quickly gets messy in these situations and things begin getting lost behind a number of other things.
Both are still lacking a local back-up system and full offline functionality. An instant messaging feature would also be useful in each. Both are under active development, however, so these features could always appear at some point in the future.