In a fast-paced world, it is essential to have a top-notch organization tool for every project you’re involved in. There is no better tool that meets this requirement for groups and individuals alike than Trello. Maybe you’re with a group of people and need a way to completely organize all the assignments required to complete a project, or maybe you’re an individual with ideas constantly swarming around their head like me. No matter who you are or who you work with, Trello should be an essential part of your organization strategy.
Trello, in it’s simplest form, is an idea organizer. Since the best way to organize something is to divide it into easy-to-understand sections, Trello understands this and makes it front and center.
The entire Trello experience will revolve around boards. You can assign a board for each idea you have or project you are working on. These projects can be as simple as repairs you have to make around the house, or as complex as creating your own website. Literally any project or idea that requires multiple steps can easily be classified as a board. A great feature paired with boards are permissions which you can set to ensure that only the proper people will have access to your project.
Trello tells you who is online right now via a status icon on a member’s avatar.
List of boards that have been created
Each board is divided into lists that can be used to map out all of the major tasks required to complete a project. They let you create smaller goals that remain under the larger umbrella of the main board. You can then create cards within each list to get even more specific.
This is an example of a list.
Cards are the basic units of your lists. Once you create a card, you can drag it from list to list in accordance with how it is progressing. This is very convenient because you can have lists titled “to do”, “doing”, and “done”. With this setup, you can drag a card from section to section to easily see what needs to be done and what has already been done.
Cards have great little features to help you along your way. If you wish to create multiple steps within a card, then you can add a checklist. In addition, any member with proper privileges can comment on a card so you can easily get feedback on certain issues.
You can mention people in comments by using “@” followed by the user’s name. The mentioned user will get a notification.
You can also set a due date for each card. This will allow you to completely track an entire board’s progress and is very helpful if you are on a tight deadline or if you want to make an accurate prediction of when the board will be completed. Cards can also be labeled by color to help categorize them.
The final and subtle feature that cards include is the ability to upvote which, you know to be important if you are a Reddit user. Up-voting helps determine which ideas seem to be the most popular ones and consequently, gives you a better understanding of where the project is heading.
This is an example of a card.
The user interface of Trello is really quite brilliant. There is a certain hierarchy that Trello uses to keep everything organized. As explained above, every board is divided into lists, and every list is divided into cards. The best part is that you can add and rename boards, lists, and cards as you see fit and truly customize the experience to the uniqueness of the project. This user interface is so perfect that being unorganized is literally impossible with it.
Basic hierarchy of Trello’s boards, lists, and cards.
On the web interface, Trello displays everything you need in one screen. In the particular example of the image above, the group created a board for a developers guild with lists based on the most important categories that will go into planning this event. Then under each list, the cards explain specifically what and who is involved. The ability to create a very broad project name, and then shrink it all the way down to specific cards, is what makes Trello truly unique.
This experience adapts very well to Android. On your phone or tablet, you can view one list and card at a time, and swipe between them. No matter what you are viewing, the content will be front and center. This is perfect for organizing on-the-go because generally, if you are using Trello on your mobile device, then you will most likely be focusing on each task separately.
Example of a checklist within a card.
Trello is more than just a simple organization tool. It has several features that really make it stand out from other services and are absolutely essential to the user for the remainder of their projects.
Trello offers the ability to have multiple members collaborating seamlessly, an absolutely essential feature to any group project. Trello lets you add other members to any board that you’ve created and give them access privileges to the project so they can share their input with the rest of the contributors.
Trello conveniently notifies you — via the Android notification bar — when you are added to a card, invited to a board or organization, mentioned in a comment, or when somebody does an action on a card you are involved in. This is very helpful because it automatically updates you on the aspects of the project that are relevant to you. Using notifications, you can learn to spread your work time across only the parts of the project that you are directly involved with, instead of having to sift through unimportant tasks.
An organization is a way of grouping people and boards. You can make an organization board visible only to organization members, and allow them to use select features such as comments and voting. This is very helpful because not everyone you are working with falls into the same category and you might need to restrict access to certain lists and cards.
Where Trello Falls Short
While Trello is fantastic for temporary projects, it isn’t ideal for long, continuous projects. The best way to use Trello is for short-term projects and once they’re complete, you can move on. If you have a continuous project, Trello’s user interface doesn’t bode well because it is geared around completely finishing a project and then moving on to the next one.
However, this short-coming is rather inconsistent when you look at Trello’s functionality. For some unknown reason, you cannot permanently delete a board, you can only close it. This is rather odd because the lack of the delete functionality suggests that Trello is suitable for projects that you are never completely done with. I think the developers either need to adjust the user interface to make never-ending projects easier to manage, or offer a simple permanent delete function.
Trello also lacks a dedicated tablet interface, which is in my opinion a rather big shortcoming because the experience would benefit greatly from it. Trello is the exact type of application that would really shine on a tablet. Unfortunately, using this on my Nexus 7 just gives me a larger phone experience and I just wish it were more tailored to the larger screen.
Trello is the perfect organization tool for those projects that just need to get done. It’s absolutely essential because it can take a very complicated project or idea, and break it down into simple steps. This type of organization makes the overall project seem much less daunting. While it is primarily a web-based service, the functionality is completely unhindered when you make the transition to your Android device thanks to its ability to sync all of your data. And even though it has some confusing short-comings, Trello could very easily become a daily organizer if used properly.
I can easily see Trello being used for a wide variety of projects and remain very excited to see what comes next and what new features the developers will add to their application and service.