We love finding new ways to streamline our business proceedings with new technology and software. One such tool that we’ve really enjoyed using is Trello.
We’ve used Trello right from the start. From the beginning of the Aspen Grove Studios brand, Trello has helped the business owners and managers keep track of the work of a growing, internationally dispersed team.
Watch one of the Aspen Grove Studios co-founders, Cory Jenkins, discuss the process of managing a distributed team using a number of tools, including Trello.
If you’re already familiar with Trello, don’t run away just yet. We’ve included a few freebies in this post, so carry on reading all the way to the end.
For those that haven’t used Trello yet, we hope you enjoy reading this post and are encouraged to try Trello.
The following blog post will discuss Trello in detail. It’ll offer information on how to set up a Trello board, and too, will explain a few of the cool things that Trello can do.
We’re giving away two Trello boards as freebies. One is a simple all-purpose task management board, the second is specifically designed to help web designers and developers with their dev projects.
Let’s get started!
What Is Trello?
Trello is one of the leading collaborative project management and productivity tools. Over the past few years, since its launch in 2011, Trello had attracted over 19 million users worldwide. In 2017, Trello was purchased by Atlassian to accompany their already impressive portfolio of collaboration software for software engineers.
Despite the buyout, Trello is still 100% free to use, and now just comes with even more integrations for related collaboration and productivity software.
The Trello app bases its entire system around the Kanban method. Allegedly created in the early 1940s by the Toyota’s engineering team to streamline their development process, the Kanban method sees the use of “cards” organized into “boards”, and helps teams translate their task list and work flow into an easy-to-digest visual representation.
Essentially, Trello is a digital version of a whiteboard or post-it note task listing system.
While the traditional Kanban method focused heavily on software development and the relative stages therein (i.e. stages including Analysis, Code Review, Development, Testing etc.), the same theory can be applied in just about any form, for any project.
Probably the simplest application of the Kanban method would be splitting a large task list into three stages or phases, such as:
- To Do
- In Progress
With Trello, setting up these “Stages” is as simple as creating a “List”. These “Lists” can then be populated with various “Tasks” (referred to as “Cards”), that can be moved between Lists based on the progression.
If this is all sounding a bit hazy, don’t worry. The next section takes you through the exact step-by-step process of setting up Trello.
How To Set Up a Trello Board
First things first, if you don’t already have a Trello account, sign up for one. Head over to Trello and create an account.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be asked to confirm your account via a link sent to your email.
When you finally arrive at your Trello dashboard, you’ll find an already-existing board called the “Welcome Board”.
This is Trello’s default board, and it’ll explain a few simple steps to the first-time users. New users will pick up some handy tips and will be able to find more in the Trello Guide.
To start a new Trello project, click the grayed area, “Create new board”.
You’ll be prompted to give your board a title. Here you’ll also be asked whether you’d like to assign the board to a team or whether you’d like to change its privacy settings. I’ll cover these a bit later.
After you’ve hit “Create” you’ll be directed to your new Trello board.
On the top left-hand side of your screen, you’ll find an area with the text, “Add a list…”. Click in this box and begin typing out the name of your first List (for example ‘To Do’). Once complete, click Save.
Then, add a few more Lists, for example, ‘In Progress’ and ‘Done’.
Now that you’ve set up the Lists, you’re able to populate them with tasks (known as ‘Cards’).
Select the relevant List and click on the “Add a Card” text. Here, enter a Task and click Add. Continue adding a series of tasks (Cards) to the relevant List until each of your project steps are documented. Due to a lack of imagination, I’ve simply numbered the tasks from 1 – 10.
To add more detail to a Task or Card, simply click on the card itself and a pop-up will appear. Here, you’re able to edit the description of the card so that the task directives are clear and actionable.
Onboarding a Team and Organizing Your Trello Board
Trello is designed for teams to collaborate effectively in a visually stimulating and enjoyable way.
This next section will cover how to add team members to your Trello board and will also explain ways to structure and manage your Cards.
Add members to your project board. If you’d like to assign a Task or Card to a team member, or simply make them aware of their involvement in the task itself, you can add them to the Card. To do this you’ll need to exit out of the card and return to the project board. Click on “… Show Menu”, then “Add Members” and enter the email address of the team member. Once they’ve accepted the invitation to collaborate, you can assign them to a card.
Connect with team members through comments. Once you’ve on-boarded members of your team to your Trello project, you can @ mention them in the comments section of a Card and create a dialogue with them. Any member that is @ mentioned in a Card will also receive an email notification to alert them.
Use labels to categorize your project. A great way to add extra depth or information to your Card is by assigning it a label. The color coded labels can be called just about anything really and can be searched and filtered for convenience. To assign a label to a Card you’ll need to create a label first. Simply click on “Labels”, then click “Create New Label” enter the label title in the “Name” section and select a color. Once you’ve created a number of labels, these can easily be assigned to various Cards along the way.
Create a checklist for subtasks. Perfect for managing multifaceted tasks, checklists are great for breaking down big pieces of work into smaller, more manageable pieces. To create a checklist of subtasks, click on “Checklist”, give your list a Title and click “Add”. Next, populate your checklist by entering sub task names in the “Add an item” area. Once you or a team mate have begun completing subtasks, simply tick off the checklist item to and view the process.
Meet your deadlines by adding a due date. If you have a time-dependent task, click the “Due Date” button and assign a deadline. If you had previously assigned team members to a card, and have just decided to add a Due Date, they’ll receive an email notification alerting them of the Card update.
Add various of files to your Cards. Trello is designed to help teams progress in their projects. With this, you’re able to share a multitude of files, in a wide range of formats, between team members. To do so, click the “Attachment” button and upload your file. You can upload and share files either directly from your computer, via a URL link, or, import file from a number of different cloud storage sources. If you add an image to a Card it’ll display as a “featured image” in a sense.
The “Actions” section is quite straightforward:
- If you feel that a Card would fit better in a different project board, you can Move it to a different Board and the respective List.
- If you’d like to copy a Card and retain all of its extra bits (i.e. description, checklist, labels), simply Copy the Card and assign it to the second Board.
- If you are not assigned to a card but would still like to stay up to date with its progress, you can Subscribe to a card to receive alerts and notifications.
- Once you are finished with a task or Card, you can either Archive or delete the card.
Moving Cards Between Lists
The whole point of Trello is to create an easy-to-understand visual representation of the sum of the tasks that comprise an entire project, and too, be able to see how each task is progressing.
To achieve this, simply click and hold on a card and drag it to the relevant board.
Say, for example, Tasks 1 – 4 were completed and tasks 5 – 7 were currently underway, you’d simply drag the relevant Tasks/Cards to the respective Lists.
A Few Extra Things You Can Do In Trello
Once you’ve mastered the art of Card creating and management, you can add a explore a bunch of extra options for your Trello project board.
Change the background of your project. Navigate to “… Show Menu” and click on “Change Background”. Here you’ll find two options. One will allow you to simply change the background color of the board (there aren’t too many options here). The other will allow you to select an image from Unsplash (loads of cool pictures are available for you to choose from).
Filter cards by a number of options. Even though this example is really simple, you may find yourself working on a Trello board that has a plethora of Lists and Cards. To make both your life and the lives of your respective team mates easy, Trello allows for the filtering of cards based on a number of variables. You can filter your project based on the label name and color, team member assigned to a card and due date.
Link Trello with other leading apps and software with Power-Ups. Designed to help collaborative teams achieve their project goals, Trello is linked to a number of other productivity and project management apps and platforms, including appear.in, Dropbox, Evernote, GIPHY, GitHub, and much, much more. There are a vast number of Power-Ups available, but this is limited to one Power-Up only for free teams. Additional Power Ups can be purchased in the Business Class version of Trello.
Add stickers to your Cards for extra visual distinction. If you’d like to add an additional layer to your Cards you can add Stickers to them. Navigate to the “… Show Menu” section, click on the “Stickers” button and drag the relevant sticker to the card of choice.
A Few Final Things About Trello
By default, all Trello board are set to Private when they are first made. This means that no one else can see your board, its progress or its activity unless you invite a team member to collaborate on the board with you.
You can change these permissions if you’d like, to suit your project objectives or collaborative work style.
To change permissions, click on the “Private” text next to the board name at the top left-hand side of your Trello board. Here you can set the board visibility to be either strictly for team members added to the board directly, to other members of a greater team, or a public board that can be viewed by anyone with a link to the board.
If you set a board as public and would like to share it, navigate to the “…Show Menu” option, click “… More” and copy and share the URL in the “Link to this board” section. Be sure to set your board visibility before doing so.
Back on your Trello dashboard, you can create a vast number of teams to suit your business and work flow. If, for example, you have multiple Trello boards across a number of teams, you can Star a board to highlight it. To do so, navigate to the top left-hand side of your board and click on the tiny star just next to the board name. This will automatically Star the board so that when you return to the dashboard, it’ll appear as first priority.
To get you started with Trello, we’ve created a number of boards that you can use on your projects.
First up, is you’d like to use the simple To Do Trello board used in this example – Trello Test – simply click this link.
Once the Trello board has loaded on your side, navigate to “… Show Menu”, click “… More” and then “Copy Board”. Then, assign the board to a team and click “Create”.
We want to hear from you!
Do you use Trello for managing your projects? If so, what do you love about Trello, and if not, what other tools, apps or platforms do you use? We’re always hunting for cool new tech innovations to streamline business proceedings so send us your suggestions and we’ll check them out!
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. We love receiving your feedback!
Thanks for reading!