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May 7, 2015

Asana vs. Trello – The Practical Comparison

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Comparing great products is a process that can easily end up with a long, exhausting report. I recently gave 2 strong work collaboration tools a try and ended up with only one as my clear winner.

Asana vs. Trello. Which one worked better for me? Read this short comparison to find out. 

Functionality:

Both Asana and Trello are designed to help you manage your work items and to-do list either as an individual or as a small/medium team. Both tools are modern and are relatively easy to get on-board and use. They turn the team work into a collaborative and communicative process – done in one place (reducing but not eliminating the need for excels, emails, phone calls, IM’s, etc.).

Asana provides an all-in-one environment where you get to see your team members, projects, tasks and details. The application is very crowded and a bit hard to get used to – but once you do – you have the entire project details in front of you. The advantage of Asana is that it doesn’t dictate a certain way to plan and execute your work – there are many templates to select from and each team can use the one that fits best. This advantage can be easily turn into a disadvantage because the Asana playground is often too messy and overloaded with data.

Asana

 

Trello is build as a Kanban board where each task is a card that can be edited or moved across categories (for instance: backlog, in progress, done).

trello-outlook-01

Functionality wise Asana wins over Trello. It has more features, and it can be used for a wide range of needs. Trello is designed as an extra simple tool and as such there are some minor capabilities missing (such as searching inside details text of each task).

 

Usability:

In my opinion, this is the most important category of this comparison and where it becomes more interesting.
The UI for such kind of tools is critical in order for users to keep using the system and do it often.

Asana’s user interface has issues; it’s way too complicated and simply puts everything inside frames, all on one screen. To me it’s just overwhelming and too difficult to work with. Especially when dealing with medium/large sized projects

Trello truly shines when it comes to usability and design: both the web app and the mobile apps are slick, the kanban board is simple and a lot of fun to use.

 

Mobile Support

Mobile support is a critical part of any modern productivity product. We need our productivity tools to be available from everywhere, while on the move, beyond working hours. Mobility, in this respect, is much more than a nice-to-have capability.

Trello’s mobile app for iOS (I checked it on both iPhone and iPad) is very impressive and provides a similar experience to the web version of the app: boards, drag & drop, colorful UI, etc. It’s very slick. The iPad version enjoys a few extra capabilities thanks to the wide screen.

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Asana on the other hand, has a very unfriendly mobile app. Every item you select takes a noticeable amount of time to open. For some reason everything is too slow, beyond the normal performance you would expect from a professional product. The mobile app, like the web version, is a bit too detailed, again…

Asana for ipad

The iPad version of Asana misses the traditional split view. As a result, the main lists are simply stretched to fit the wider screen but you do not get any advantage from using a tablet over a phone.

Sharing options:

Trello allows you to take a picture (screenshot or photo) and create a card out of it. The card will then include the picture(s) as attachments. This is actually a very important feature if you plan on storing your bugs or issues in your collaboration tool.

Asana has a limited version of this capability; it doesn’t let you select the target project or task – which means that there are a few more manual steps to make inside the app to complete this scenario.

Summarizing the mobile part – Trello wins big time due to a much nicer user experience, better design, and better mobile functionality.

 

Ecosystem & Plug-ins

Both Asana and Trello are extremely popular with large communities. And yet, it seems like Asana has a variety of apps & plug-ins (both free and paid) while Trello simply doesn’t. With Asana you can add charts, reports, a Gantt, and all sorts of additions while Trello has very little to offer in this category.

In the plug-ins section Asana wins with a knock out.

 

Summary

While Asana has more functionality to offer, bigger flexibility (in project structure), and many plug-ins – it is simply not much fun to use; the user interface gets too busy and detailed, and the mobile experience is not good enough. I gave Asana a decent try and I understood that I simply don’t like it that much even though I can see how powerful it is.

Trello keeps things simple, but it seems to be doing the things it does in a brilliant way. The user interface is incredible in all platforms (web, mobile, even as a Windows 8 app) and the board concept is visual, colorful and simply fun to use.

My subjective preference after trying out both Asana and Trello is to go with Trello, hoping that more plug-ins will become available pretty soon, as I do want to see some reports and charts available on top of the core product.



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