In October 2012 I first wrote about asana, praising the browser–based task management app for coming close to delivering on the developers’ vision of frictionless productivity. Since that first review, asana has gone from strength to strength, refining its user interface and adding tons of new functionality.
If you want a walkthrough of asana basics, you may want to read my earlier post first. If you are ready to explore what is new, just keep reading.
It is important to understand how workspaces are defined in asana. They are independent containers for projects, tasks and contacts and each workspace comes with its own team calendar. When I first reviewed asana, from the perspective of individual task management, I bristled at my inability to drag and drop tasks and projects across workspaces. I concede that it makes sense for a team collaboration app to have sealed, self–contained workspaces—it is a key feature in regulating project access and permissions. On the other hand, project parameters do change in the real world and asana’s hard line on keeping workspaces separate can mean rebuilding information in a new workspace where dragging and dropping could have done the job. This could maybe be a setting that users can toggle on or off in the account settings if they have proper authorisation?
Asana’s standout new features then:
- there are more standard project views available (including a numbered tasks list, tasks by due date or assignee, or recently completed tasks) and there is also the capacity to filter and customise the project view, for example, by tag
- projects can now be colour–coded
- tasks can now have subtasks. Subtasks can have their own notes, due dates and comments and can be assigned to team members
- an informative team view calendar for each workspace provides a focal point for project planning and review
- improved file integration—you can easily attach files from your computer, Dropbox, Google Drive or Box to a task
- the search engine has been improved and has the capacity to save complex filtered searches
- you can save a project as a template.
And, of course, the old features are still there: good email integration, hyperlink navigation, well–executed tags, drag and drop (within each workspace), plenty of keyboard shortcuts, mobile apps and excellent online documentation, including several videos. Asana is also compatible with David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD®) approach to productivity. Best of all, the app is still free for up to 30 users.
Improvements I would like to see:
- the capacity, in account settings, to activate ‘drag and drop’ across workspaces
- the capacity to hide ‘personal projects’ from view in the navigation pane
- development of a native iPad app.
There is a fluidity to using asana that is most pleasing. As a sole operator, it is easy to plan and re–prioritise your day’s work. Teams using asana can easily allocate tasks, review priorities and manage complex projects, with asana largely replacing email, notes, file management, individual task lists and status update meetings. This is a wonderful product from a gifted bunch of people—with a different badge on it you’d be paying top dollar for this level of quality.
Have you used asana? Let us know what you thought of the app, and what features you would like to see.