If you’re on the lookout for the best project management app for your projects, where you can use a cloud-based service, you probably came across two of the biggest players in the game. But which way does a Trello vs Asana comparison go? Both of these established tools have their strengths from a PM aspect, so which one is the best project management app for you?
Table of Contents
- Trello vs Asana
- Project Management Software Finder
- Alternative project management solution
- A quick look at Trello
- A short overview of Asana
- Dependency Management
- Sharing and Teams
- User Experience and Ease of Use
- 3rd Party Integration
- PROs and CONs
- Who uses it?
- Asana alternatives
- Trello Alternative
- Conclusion: Who’s the winner? Trello or Asana?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Still not sure?
Trello vs Asana
Trello is a card-based task/project management tool which can be used for projects team collaboration is required. Trello mimics real-life boards to manage the project. Asana takes a task-oriented approach and offers better workflow functionality. Trello is easy to work with but Asana has a broader set of features.
Asana is intended for projects which have a rigorous process associated with them and is typically used by small teams working on projects together.
When you start hitting limits on Trello, Asana starts to become a better option.
Project Management Software Finder
We partnered with Crozdesk to help you with your search for project management software. Just run through the steps below (should take less than a minute) and they will get in touch to help you find the best project management software products that fit your business, no strings attached.
Alternative project management solution
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 after all ;-))
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 app. Our service solves this problem for us and for the rest of the world out there!
A quick look at Trello
Before we actually perform a compare and contrast, let’s have a bit of a look at Trello.
Trello was one of the first project management apps which took a drastically different approach to the work process. Project management software usually works around tasks and projects, with a specific UX to suit this need.
Trello takes a very different approach, focusing on working on tasks, but from a UX perspective.
They took a card-based or board-based approach. Trello is based on the Kanban approach – 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 happen around this “card” pinned on the board. Even the founders of Trello had this in mind. They mimicked a brainstorm session on a board, with tasks assigned to different people.
In reality, rather than a pinning board, this is, in fact, the digitizing of the Kanban board.
Trello is a digital version of a sticky note board. You can shift tasks (rows) from one column to another to show their progress.
This visual approach, which allows you to view the current state of tasks quickly is surely a great way to look at progress. This is especially true from the point of view of a project manager.
If you organize a project vertically by the different stages of progress, you can move a card or note from one stage to the next as progress is made on that project or task.
For example, Trello works very nicely for the management of publishing websites. A blog would progress from “Proposed ideas”, to “Approved”, “Awaiting Feedback”, “Published” and “Archived”. Even if the stages of your editorial process are different, you can just rename the columns to be appropriate for your own publishing site.
Trello can also work very nicely for software development tasks. 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 change the stages to suit what is 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 or attachments, due dates, descriptions, etc. Membership of a board means that the member can also create a checklist of tasks as necessary to complete the specific “job”.
It’s pretty open, which makes it quite easy to work with.
A short overview of Asana
Asana is completely project-based. Teams are organized around projects.
Projects are organized lists of tasks around which teams can collaborate. For example, you can create various Sections for 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 a 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 (as many sub-levels as you want) or whatever else you want to perform on this specific task.
There are then further views for such things as Calendar, files, the progress of a project, due dates, conversations around tasks. Specific views such as My Inbox and My Tasks help one zone into their own specific projects.
This is simple task management around projects, but it works. The concept is similar to that used by Basecamp, another giant when it comes to project management software.
Trello’s workflow is based on dragging tasks from one column and dropping them to another to show movement between stages. As a “live” Kanban board, you can customize each board you use with specific columns and labels. Team members assigned to a task get notified as their tasks get updated.
The two platforms allow commenting on tasks, keeping conversations contained in a single location. This allows you to join a conversation when necessary, and catch up with decisions, even if you were not involved from the beginning.
Asana also organizes tasks in a similar way to Trello. Particularly when working on large projects, where Trello starts to get cumbersome.
Asana also has calendar and timeline formats, which are an overview based on due dates.
One of the important considerations when making a decision about task management software is how much it will cost for your team.
Cost should NOT be at the top of your concerns.
With the correct adoption and implementation, you will make significant improvements in productivity, thus your overall costs will go down. Therefore, the cost of the app should not be at the top of your concerns, because you will get a good ROI.
You’ll find that most tools have a similar pricing mechanism. Most of the software in this industry takes a user-based pricing approach – where you pay based on users on the system. As the number of users using the system goes up, the price per user goes down.
Wrike, and these two projects all use the same user-based pricing, starting from a free (limited) account and then move to about $9 per user.
Trello is a freemium service. The basic price is free ($0), and then works its way up to $9.99/user/month (paid annually) or $12.50/user/month if you pay monthly.
Whilst the free option is attractive, and a good way to get started, it’s a means to get you hooked to the service.
As you start using Trello more and more, you’ll find that you will have to upgrade to the paid version removes any limits in the free version. For example, no 3rd party software integrations are included with the free version.
Compare Asana to Trello which starts at $0, up to team members of 15. From 15 users upward, it is priced at $9.99/user/month (billed annually) or $11.99/user/month if you pay monthly.
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 work 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. Asana used to have a very slight edge, but this is no longer the case. The prices are exactly the same, except for the Enterprise tier.
All-in-all, pricing considerations are pretty much head-to-head.
Many projects require tasks to be done in a certain order. One task cannot get started before another is completed, i.e. there is a dependency. Dependency management is an area where Asana works better than Trello because you can specify which tasks need to be completed before others can begin.
The timeline view helps identify any bottlenecks or problems where people are idle waiting for other tasks to get done. Asana actually lets you organize these dependencies to solve such problems.
Trello does not have anything like this built-in. Using a power-up, called Hello Epics, you can create a parent-child relationship where you can then see how many children are completed. This is a paid addition that starts at $3.99/member/month.
Sharing and Teams
With the free version of Trello, there are no limits to the size of a team you can have. Asana limits the sizes of teams to 15 members unless you are using the paid version.
Asana’s upper limit in terms of attachments is 100MB, Trello, on the other hand, has a 250MB limit, but at least both allow you to attach as many files as you like.
User Experience and Ease of Use
Both of the interfaces are designed with a strict focus on a smooth UX. Rare are the instances where you might feel stuck.
Asana is a bit more refined. Options and menus only appear depending on the context, and only if they are relevant, keeping things simple and never overwhelming the user with choices.
There’s also Asana celebrations, an amusing display of one of four celebration creatures shooting across the screen as tasks are completed. Just a bit of fun to tone down the seriousness of working with heavy projects for a long -time.
Trello’s strengths come from its absolute simplicity. The interface is fully self-explanatory and easy to grasp. If you had to do an intro, it wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes for all of your team to grasp the concepts of working with it.
The problem with Trello is that as a project grows, you’ll have a lot of scrolling up and down to see all the tasks. If there is a large number of columns, there’s also going to be a lot of side-to-side scrolling. This will start to get confusing, especially moving stuff around from one column to another.
Asana uses sections and subtasks to simplify each project. The condensed task view also helps to easily get a bird’s eye view of the project and quickly zone-in to the section you need to work with.
Both systems have good documentation. If you do get stuck, a quick search will resolve your problem.
The built-in help and tour of features in Asana ensure you can quickly pick up any new functionality you come across.
Both tools have active forums where the community helps out with any user questions.
We do believe Asana is the winner in this, although we can’t really fault Trello.
3rd Party Integration
The strength of any cloud software product is also dependent on how it integrates with other cloud services you are already using. If your organization already works with Dropbox, you’ll want the ability to pull in or link to files easily.
Being able to work with such services ensures you don’t fully reinvent the way you are working and keep existing workflows in place.
Trello integrates with other apps through Power-Ups. As of March 2020, there are more than 150 power-ups available, for most of the major cloud services, including such staff as Slack, Agile Tools and Burndown Lists, Drive, Dropbox/Box, Salesforce, etc. etc. For anything which is not available, you can use Zapier or Dossier as an intermediary service. Custom Fields is also a neat option if you need to customize the actual fields in each task to suit your own processes.
You will need to subscribe to these power-ups (additional cost).
Asana also comes with a number of integrations. Some will also require the use of Zapier or Dossier to complete the integration.
Both of these services have good 3rd party integrations.
PROs and CONs
Once we’re done with the basics, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of our 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. Having multiple systems can create 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 option, 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 a doubt – one of the other project management tools you’ll want to try is the Wrike project management tool.
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 PM per se, you can use it for anything.
That’s why in our examples above, we said that Trello can be 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. Anywhere where there are 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 moving tasks from one vertical list to the next. Once a task is ready from its current stage, you simply 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, but powerful way of visualizing and seeing progress on projects.
1. Will it work for you?
We would dare say that Trello’s strength can also be its weakness. Flexible services are organized in a way that makes sense for the people using them.
The first thing that a company using Trello needs to do, is to create a process that 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. This is not necessarily a solution that works for everybody. A specific process that 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 of using Trello. You need to create a process that works for you. If you don’t have a process in mind already or are aware of a Trello process that will work for you, 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 losing 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
- Google Drive integration
- Export is not available on the free plan
- Having many cards can get quite hectic
1. Great UX
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 mold, 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 set up a repeatable project on Asana. As web designers ourselves, designing a website is essentially a process that is repeatable in nature. Yes, you do have to do quite a lot of customizations for each specific website you are designing, but 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. Creating every task makes it error-prone.
Other Asana Pros and Cons
- Lots of project management features
- Free trial (no credit card required)
- Color-coded tasks
- Multiple tags
- 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
- Google Drive integration
- Time Tracking through integration with EverHour
- Automation (available only with Business)
- Tasks assigned to one member of a team only
- 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?
In our opinion, the scenarios to whom Asana and Trello appeal to are 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.
Now that we’ve considered most of the features of both of these options, it’s time to have a look at a number of alternative options if you are considering any of these tools.
If you haven’t already seen our list of project management services, we urge you to visit this now – all of these are viable alternatives to Asana.
Rather than going for a never-ending list – we’re proposing 5 solid alternatives.
All of the above are major players in the industry, and all of them are doing something right. This is clear from their popularity and customer base. We’d suggest having a look at each of these and see whether any of these can be considered a viable Asana alternative for your company.
Wrike: If you’re considering a tool for managing your work and projects, there is another alternative to Trello and Asana: Wrike. This is is one of those tools and services which have been rapidly growing in popularity, feature and functions. Their recent funding rounds have also helped push this service to the next level in terms of its capabilities.
We’ve fully reviewed these two tools in our feature here: Wrike vs Asana – Which PM Tool Works Best For Your Business?
One feature we really really love about it is its ability to “digest” emails and add them as tasks directly into a project. All you need to do is carbon-copy your Wrike designated email address, and the specific email and contents will be added to the project as a new task, assigned to the people which are copied in the actual email.
So while Asana is pretty good at sending stuff by email, this alternative is pretty good at picking up things FROM email, which is a pretty strong difference.
The software has some pretty great reviews out there and has been voted best tool in quite a few places – it’s THAT mature.
In terms of look and feel, these are quite different overall, so what we would suggest is for you to actually try out both of them and make your decision together with your own team.
Try out Wrike by clicking here.
ProjectHuddle: These guys, we haven’t included specifically as alternatives, because they are in a bit of a different branch of services. However, if you are a digital marketing agency, web designer or developer, or anybody who works with websites as an end-result should definitely have a look at Project Huddle.
This is a tool, which creates a “commenting layer” on a website. This allows you to have a conversation internally or with your client, super-imposed on your work. Huddle is great for those who want to point out certain specific things to their client or want feedback about something.
Have a look at the image below to understand how this works.
Now that we’ve suggested a few options, let’s continue with our 2nd product.
This is quite a particular product with a unique look and feel, so it’s not easy to find a good Trello alternative. Nevertheless, we’re going to make a few suggestions for products which you could consider.
We’re going to give you a concise list of options, such that you don’t waste a bunch of time considering all products.
- Kanban tool
We focused mostly on having a Kanban-like look and feel, available on all of these services, such that they can be considered true Trello alternatives.
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 work management software that caters to web designers, agencies, and creatives like us.
We scoured the internet, asked our peers, visited websites, and forums. Our designers joined and asked on 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 software solutions. No, they’re not specifically for web designers, agencies or freelancers.
It is both dejecting and amazing that nobody has catered for such a large niche of users.
A couple of years later and here we are. We are now using Wrike we feel it is ideal for all sorts of projects, from small to the very large.
Conclusion: Who’s the winner? Trello or Asana?
As you can see both of these project management tools are good choices. You won’t get fired for choosing Trello or Asana. Despite some weaknesses or drawbacks, both of them are very well-rounded products. While Asana has the edge in some aspects, Trello gives it a good run for the money. We’d recommend trying both out, and see which one works best for you. Whichever one you choose, your project management will improve significantly.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is better Trello or Asana?
The question is whether Trello or Asana is better is a subjective one. Trello is better when tasks move frequently between different stages, but gets difficult to manage when hundreds of tasks are involved. Asana is surely better for larger projects, but with the tool also being free for up to 15 members, it works very nicely for small teams too.
2. Does Asana integrate with Trello?
Yes, you can use the Unito app to integrate Trello with Asana. This is a paid app, starting from $10/month for a personal plan.
3. What is the difference between Slack and Trello?
Slack and Trello are very different from each other. Trello is typically used to manage projects and tasks in shared teams. Slack is more focused on direct one to one communication or chatting between team members. However, Slack today has integrations with the major project management tools, to enable even better communication.
4. What is the difference between Asana and Slack?
Slack and Asana are also quite different from each other. Asana is used to manage projects and tasks, while Slack is typically used for chatting and day-to-day communication between various team members. Asana is used to monitor tasks and their progress, while Slack is used to enable chatting between team members. Slack fully integrates with Asana.
5. Does Asana have a free version?
Yes, Asana has a free version, which can be used for up to 15 members.
6. Does Trello have a free version?
Yes. Trello has a free version that teams of any sizes can use. The Pro version offers a number of additional features over the free option.
Still not sure?
We’ve partnered with Crozdesk to give you access to custom-built reports with project management software finder, depending on your own specifications. Just run through the steps below (should take less than a minute) and you’ll get a shortlist with the best project management software products that fit your business.