5 Reasons Why Trello Is So Awesome
One of the biggest pain-points I have is proper project management. When I was working on DeskElf (from 2009 – 2013 with this guy), we tried almost every tool on the market. We were bootstrapping, and although it’s true that you need to spend money to make money, we never wanted to buy in to a system. We used Google Docs and every self-hosted open source option out there. Over the years I designed my ideal system. In 2012 I started coding it (in PHP), later that year admitting to myself that if I really wanted it to be done well, I would need a proper team of developers. I raised money from an angel and hired a team to put it together (in Python), taking on a partner in the process. This project was launched in a beta release under the name FlowStache. It was unique and awesome, there was nothing like it on the market. Or at least that’s what I thought.
One of our beta testers sent us a message along the lines of “This is great! Reminds me of Trello.” Reminds you of what? I had done extensive research and this “Trello” thing had never come up. But then we got the same message from another user. And another. I checked out Trello and found the system I had been working on for years, right there in front of me.
Truth be told, I would have continued with FlowStache anyway and competed with Trello for users. But God runs the world, and in 2013 due to personal/family-related circumstance, I had to step out of the project and move 6000 miles from my home. So FlowStache was laid to rest, and this is of course another story for another time.
So what makes Trello so hot? Why is it so popular and seemingly on a path of continuous growth? I’ve broken it down into the following list. Of course there are many more reasons, but I’m not in the mood to write a long post:
1) So Easy, My Grandmother Could Use It
When it comes to intuitive software, Trello nailed it. They’ve limited what the product can actually do (this is a pro, not a con) and created an interface that makes understanding its actions dead simple. There is a slight learning curve (“what is a board, a list and a card ?”) but once you get over that, it’s smooth sailing.
Want to add a card? Click on “Add a card…”. Want to edit a card? Click on that card (an edit icon appears on hover). I would say that the one important thing to know for new users, in terms of navigation, is that double-click is your friend.
You need so sign up to experience their on-boarding, but trust me when I say you’ll enjoy it.
2) Integrations, Integrations, Integrations
One of the most brilliant moves Trello pulled (and it’s not so surprising, given the fact that Trello is made by Fog Creek) is coming out with their API. I for one still have the dream of the ideal app, one that will cover all of my team and project management needs. And there are companies, like Zula, that are working hard to make this a reality. But in the meantime, the reality is that some startups have mastered specific tasks. So while I would choose HipChat as my ideal chat client and GitHub as my ideal git-thingy (technical term), I do not yet have a tool that does both. Trello is my ideal task list app (bonus: it can do more) and because they offer an API, I can link all of my favorite products together.
If you don’t know about it yet, you must go check out Zapier. They’ll help you set up all the API-linkage you need and save you the trouble of coding that stuff yourself.
3) Little Big Details
What can I say? I’m a sucker for LBDs. A little big detail is that design nuance or subtle functionality that gives an app personality, making it worth talking about. You can see some great ones on this nifty Tumblr blog. Trello has a bunch of these, more than are documented on that link. Why does this matter? Companies that take the time to add in LBDs say a few things about themselves:
- They’re customer-oriented. They’re having you, not your wallet, in mind while they’re making the software.
- They’re having fun while making the product, which means they love what they’re doing and they’re passionate about it. You want the product made by the guys who are passionate – they tend to not cut any corners.
- They’re letting you know that they’re human. You can relate to them and they can relate to you. This usually translates into #4, posted below.
4) Great Customer Service
The people at Fog Creek care, they just do. Trello is one of just three products and it’s being built by a dedicated team, so you know the company is not spreading itself too thin. They want to know when you’re having issues because they want to help you succeed. I’ve never seen an ad for Trello, but I’ve seen it take over the web (at least the SaaS space) since 2012. If they’re not buying billboards, they only other thing I can think of that would cause 4 Million people to use them is word-of-mouth. That can only happen from a positive user experience, which has to include customer service.
Personally, I’ve never had to reach out to their support team. But I know they’re there. And they offered me a t-shirt earlier today simply because I butted my way into a convo to ask for one (#shameless). And no, they don’t know I decided it was time to write about them.
One of the things I love about Trello is that they’re modest and transparent. They publish their roadmap for one. You can find out about how they do things on their blog, for another. They’re brand screams of serious software that’s for people who do not want to be caged by seriousness. They’re as powerful as an enterprise machine, but as approachable as the ice cream truck outside.
Sign up for Trello on Trello.com and thank me later. It’s free. They have paid plans, which might be worth it for you, I plan on trying them out soon.
This list (Simplicity, API, LBDs, Customer Service and Transparency) is what I founded FlowStache based on. While there is always be a place in my hear for “the startup that never was”, I’m happy to be a Trello user. Maybe one day they’ll add a mustache to their mascot (a dog named Taco).