The challenge for manufacturers of task management software is to create a product that’s impressive enough for people to want to use it, but simple enough not become another task to be added to a to-do list. If you have to set aside a couple of hours to learn how to create projects, list tasks and assign them to team members, you may as well just write an email.
Asana largely manages to square that circle. The complex specialist functions that you’re unlikely to use are kept hidden away, making access to the basic project and task assignments simple and intuitive. Sign up, and you’ll be presented with a blank page and a tooltip inviting you to create a project. A button below also tells you to add a task. The button is more inviting than the tooltip and pulls the user into quickly creating the kind of simple to-do list found on any smartphone.
It’s enough to get you started. You can then place that list under a project, and add descriptions and deadlines. Inviting colleagues to complete those tasks is as simple as entering their email addresses.
Those are the basic tasks that any team is likely to find itself using the most. Each project, though, also shows the chat Conversations taking place around the project, a Calendar, a Progress page that uses colored icons to indicate the status of the project and a graph that’s less helpful than it looks. A files section collates all the files uploaded to tasks and conversations, making them easy to find.
It’s all remarkably straightforward and well-designed. Detailed reports list the tasks you’ve created, assigned to others, and completed. Subscribers can also make advanced searches.
The really interesting functions though are hidden away under My Profile Settings, accessible from the profile link in the top right-hand corner. It’s not just the profile photo and description you can add here, which are unlikely to be useful when you’re working with team members who know you. You can also use the vacation indicator to ensure that people know why you’re not meeting deadlines or participating in chats.
You can select one of a small number of kitschy backgrounds to replace the default grey. And you can opt to see occasional celebrations when you complete a task, a nice addition to the satisfaction of marking that checkbox when you upload a finished document.
Apps allow you to add other programs, extending Asana’s functions, though the choice is limited. Currently, it consists only of Harvest Time Tracking, something that many users will find more of an intrusion than a help. Hacks allow users to try out new functions that Asana is only beginning to roll out, like listing today’s tasks above new tasks and adding up numbers that are placed in brackets.
A free trial lets you work with up to five team members and do most of the task and project management functions you’ll need. Once the team starts growing, you might find yourself paying around $10 per member per month, although you’ll also be able to create more detailed progress reports, customize the platform and use more varied privacy settings. Even those advanced functions, though, always feel intuitive and manageable. Asana is task management software that never feels like a chore.
Asana is an easy tool for any team that needs to keep in touch while completing complex projects. You’ll be up and running in minutes, and able to stay on top of your tasks.
|Usability: 9 /10||Speed: 8 /10||Features: 7 /10||Support: 8 /10||Pricing: 8 /10|