Trello vs Asana – which is the best project management app? (2017)
If you’re on the lookout for the best project management app for your projects, you surely must have come to the crossroads of considering between Trello vs Asana. Both of these established tools have their strengths from a project management aspect, so which one is the best project management app for you?
In this post we’re going to perform a deep dive into these two project management apps to find the strengths, the weaknesses and try to reach a conclusion of the winner would be in a Trello vs Asana showdown.
Trello vs Asana Summary
Trello is mostly a card based task / project management tool which can be used for almost anything where limited team collaboration is required. Whether you’re doing project managing for websites or managing your home decoration project Trello mimics real-life boards to manage the project.
Asana takes a more task-oriented approach to project management. It is intended more for projects which have a bit of a more rigorous process to them. It’s mostly used by small teams working on projects together.
An Alternative project management solution to Trello and Asana
Ok, so we know this is supposed to be a Trello / Asana comparison – yet we’d like to chime in a little bit over here with some of our comments before we actually continue the comparison (hey it’s our website afterall ;-))
We do it for a very valid reason though.
We, the guys (and girls) at BeeWits, also run a marketing / design / digital / web design agency. Whilst we were setting up our digital agency we actually tried using both Trello and Asana – yet we found a problem with both of them. In both of them you have to recreate a project from scratch every time.
That very specific problem with almost all project management apps inspired us to create a new project management app – one which solves this problem for us and for the rest of the world out there!
With BeeWits – you can start a project from a set of task templates, making sure starting a project is quick and easy. Rather than having to remember all of the tasks you need to create, task templates can prescribe the tasks you need to perform.
Have a look and start a free trial and see whether you like it. If you’re just interested in Asan and Trello we understand. In that case, move along, there’s nothing to see here…
A quick look at Trello
Before we actually perform a compare and contrast of Trello vs Asana, let’s have a bit of a look at Trello.
Trello was one of the first project managements apps which took a drastically different approach to project management. Whilst most project management software works around tasks, and take a specific and particular approach to working around projects and tasks, Trello did take a very different approach. However, the way they went about it was mostly from a UX perspective.
They took a card-based or board-based approach to project management. Trello is infact based around the Kanban approach – which is essentially a visual way to manage tasks.
Essentially, (at least in my eyes) they mimicked a pinning board where each task is written on a sticky note and pinned to a board. Notes and collaboration then happens around this “card” pinned on the board. After having read more about Trello, even the founders of Trello had this in mind, they just wanted to mimic a brainstorm session on a board, with tasks being assigned to different people.
In reality, rather than a pinning board, this is infact the digitizing of the Kanban board.
In my mind, Trello is a digital version of a sticky note board:
This visual approach, which allows you to view the current state of tasks quickly is surely a great way to look at progress, particularly from the point of view of a project manager.
Particularly, if you organize a project vertically by the different stages of progess, you can move a card or note from one stage to the next as progress is made on that project or task.
For this reason, I’ve seen Trello work very very nicely for management of publishing websites, where blog ideas go from “Proposed ideas”, to “Approved”, “Awaiting Feedback”, “Published” and “Archived” … or whatever the stages would be appropriate for your publishing site.
Trello can also work very nicely for software development tasks – since once again specific software development tasks can move through a series of stages. You could have a full backlog of tasks which need to be done, pull tasks from the backlog, then see them through a series of progress stages such as “Waiting for review”, “In Development”, “Waiting for testing”, “Ready for release”, “Released” – of course you can apply the stages necessary for your company.
Team members can then collaborate on the various cards on each board, tag each other when necessary, comment on tasks, add images, descriptions.
It’s pretty open, which makes it quite easy to work with.
A short overview of Asana
Asana is completely project based – essentially, teams are organized around projects.
Projects are essentially, lists of tasks – around which teams can collaborate. So for example, you’ll create various Sections to a project. Within each section, you can then create a list of tasks associated with that specific “section” of the project.
Each task can then have sub-tasks of its own should you want to create nesting of tasks.
Here’s an example of how we (tested out) Asana for managing our blog:
After selecting the project which you will be working ok, you can ‘Add Task’ to specific sections on the top left hand side. Once you’ve created a task you can select it and then add descriptions, tag team members, comment, attach files, created sub-tasks or whatever else you want to perform on this specific task.
There are then further views for such things as Calendar, files, progress of a project, conversations around tasks. Specific views such as My Inbox and My Tasks help one zone into their own specific projects.
Simple project management around tasks which works.
Trello vs Asana Pricing
One of the important considerations when making a decision about project management software is of course how much it’s going to cost you. Given that you should be making significant improvements in terms of cost-savings and productivity, the cost of the project management app should not be the top of your concerns, yet it’s something to consider nonetheless.
Trello starts at $0, then works it’s way up to $9/user/month. Whilst the free option is of course attractive, it’s mostly a means to get you hooked. As you start using Trello more and more, you’ll find that you will have to upgrade to the paid version of Trello, which removes most limits which you are bound to hit with the free version of Trello. For example, no integrations are included with the free version.
Just like Trello, Asana starts at $0, up to team members of 15 and then moves up from that, priced at $8.33/user/month. Now, despite saying that Asana is free for teams up to 15 members, this is not an unlimited version with all features available. Just like with Trello, if you’re planning to use Asana as your project management app of choice, you’re likely going to have to bump up to a premium paid account.
Given that the pricing of Asana vs Trello is pretty much identical, we do believe this is a draw, although Asana has a very slight edge. In my mind, this is not a true advantage, it’s just a way for Asana to get a pricing edge on one of their most direct competitors Trello.
All-in-all, pricing considerations for Trello vs Asana are pretty much head-to-head.
Sorry we’re butting in again, but hey, we’d like to get in on the fun too! You’re on our blog so aren’t we at liberty to speak about our own product every so often? BeeWits does not have a free tier – we’re much too small to be able to afford a freemium model.
Yet, we have something which is better than Asana and Trello’s pricing. We charge on a per account basis – one fixed fee per account, whether you have two users or twenty.
Your costs are simple and predictable.
Trello vs Asana: Strengths and weaknesses
Once we’re done with the basics, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of our Trello vs Asana comparison. Whilst you could choose to use Trello and Asana together in the same company, we do recommend that you focus on one of them, just for the sake of making sure that you don’t have multiple systems, multiple training sessions and all types of conflicts and synchronization issues between teams.
Of course besides Trello and Asana, there are many other tools in place. Particularly if you’re managing relatively small software development projects, you could consider Jira, (and that would have made this post Trello vs Asana vs Jira making it a pretty heavy post – and Jira is quite software development oriented). Slack would always be a good complement for any team. But rather than trying to make this post a Trello vs Asana vs Slack, or maybe even if you wanted to go for yet another options, Trello vs Asana vs Wrike. We however wanted to keep this limited to the two most popular project management tools out there – even if there are other options.
Without a shadow of doubt – one of the other project management tools you’ll want to try is our BeeWits.
1. Incredibly flexible
Trello is pretty much a completely open system. This makes it super configurable – it is literally up to you to design a system and methodology which works for you. Trello is not limited to project management per se, you can use for anything in reality.
That’s why in our examples above, we mentioned that we’ve seen Trello used for anything, from managing a publishing site, to software development to managing marketing campaigns. Anything where you could use a board with sticky notes to serve as a reminder of the things you do to do – Trello can be used to manage it.
For example, in some basic cases we use Trello as a simple CRM, where we manage which users we’ve contacted, who we still need to contact, who we need to follow up with. In essence, anywhere where there is multiple stages to getting something done, Trello is a good candidate. It may not have all of the specific features and functions for that specific “project” – but it’s good enough to work.
2. Visual Progression
One of the beautiful things about working with Trello is getting things done by moving them from one vertical list to the next. Once a task is done from it’s current stage, you simply have to drag it and drop it to the next stage. That is an immensely satisfying step – where you can literally see your task making progress. It’s something incredibly simple, yet is such a powerful way of visualizing and seeing progress being made on projects.
1. Will it work for you?
We would dare say that Trello’s strength can also be it’s weakness. Any service which is incredibly flexible requires it to be organised in a way which makes sense for the people using it.
The first thing that a company using Trello needs to do is to make sure they create a process which works for them. It is up to the company using Trello to make it work.
Now, companies might attempt to use the processes of other companies or users which they’ve seen, but this is not necessarily a solution which works for everybody. A specific process which works for one company in a specific industry is not necessarily the right solution for another company.
This is one of the primary concerns and weaknesses with using Trello – you need to create a process which works for you. If you don’t have a process in mind already, you’re going to struggle to make Trello work for you.
2. Not ideal for projects with hundreds of tasks
A card based approach is fine – yet, as the number of tasks / cards start to increase, Trello becomes a little bit unwieldy to handle. You start loosing visibility into what’s done, you’ll need to search for cards more and more often. We believe that for teams with large numbers of tasks, it’s not the ideal tool.
Moreover, if you perform projects which have a repeatable process in their nature (for example, web designs, social media or marketing campaigns) – you’ll have to recreate all of the tasks / cards over and over again for each and every project you create.
Other Trello Pros and Cons
- Free. No credit card required for signing-up
- Mostly simple layout with simple instructions
- Both iPhone and Android apps are available
- There is no limit on Trello cards
- No limit on people invited to a board
- Export is not available on the free plan
- Having many cards can get quite hectic
1. Great User Experience
Project focused Asana is a nice touch. The design of the interface is really intelligent – it makes the optimal use of the available space such that everything is only a couple of clicks away. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the UX design of this software, and yes – it is indeed a great user experience to work with Asana. The different colors for tasks based on importance is indeed a great way to immediately focus on what’s more important.
Again, with Asana being very flexible in nature, leaving it up to the end user to define tasks and projects, rather than restrict you into a particular mould, it is easy to set projects up in Asana. Moreover, it’s pretty cool to be able to not pay much (or anything) if you are a small team.
1. Too. Many. Emails
So this is a personal thing – but heck Asana sends too many emails. When a task has a due date set on it, you’ll keep receiving nagging reminders constantly (a week before the task is due, the day before the task is due, the day the task is due, then every day after a task is due for a week). I’m not sure which Product Manager dreamed up this overdose of notifications, but they either don’t suffer from email overload or they simply get so many emails that a few tens of emails more won’t make a difference.
2. Process oriented projects can suffer
Once again, it’s very difficult to setup a repeatable project on Asana. As web designers ourselves, designing a website is essentially a process which is repeatable in nature. Yes, you do have to do quite a lot of customizations for each specific website you are designing, but in essence the process does not change. Having to recreate a project with (possibly hundreds of) tasks from scratch each and every time you win a project becomes not just overhead but a concern – having to create each task every time makes it error prone.
Other Asana Pros and Cons
- Lots of project management features
- Free trial (no credit card required)
- Important tasks can be color coded
- Multiple tags can be added to each item
- Use on smartphone possible through Android and iOS app
- Possibility to quickly add new tasks
- Email integration
- Possible to view personal tasks in one place / following your tasks
- Free for small teams up to 15 people
- Tasks can only be assigned one member of a team
- No personal view – just tasks within each workspace
- The interface can sometimes feel overwhelming with graphics
- Sub-tasks are difficult to work with
- Long learning curve
- No two-factor authentication in the app
Who uses it? Trello vs Asana user persona
In our opinion, the persona to whom Asana and Trello appeals is somewhat different. Trello is ideal for a team where there are many individual team members.
Asana is a great tool when there is a single person such as the CEO, a Project Manager or a Product Manager who wants to keep an eye on things.
BeeWits – project management software built for web designers / freelancers and small agencies.
Let me tell you a quick story before we end this article. When our parent company, the digital agency Switch was setting itself up, like many others before us, we started looking for project management software which caters for web designers, agencies and creatives like us.
We scoured the internet. We asked our peers. We visited websites and forums, Facebook groups and everywhere else people were willing to listen to our question.
“Is there any good web design project management software. something specifically built for agencies?”
The answer was dismal. Yes there are plenty of project management software solutions. No, they’re not specifically for web designers, agencies or freelancers.
We were both dejected and amazed that nobody had catered for such a large niche of users.
So, ever the entreprenuers, we decided to build it ourselves.
A couple of years later and here we are. BeeWits is specifically built as web design project management software – built for web designers, by web designers.
Conclusion: Who’s the winner? Trello or Asana?
We’ve seen that both of these project management tools are good choices – you’re not going to get fired for choosing Trello or Asana. Despite some weaknesses or drawbacks, both of them are very well-rounded products which should get you well on the way in managing of your projects.