Asana is a solid, user-friendly project management tool that will meet most users' needs. While not quite as powerful as some competitors, its interface is a massive selling point for people new to using this type of software. Read our full Asana review to find out more.
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Keeping teams engaged is a key part of making online work a success. Fortunately, Asana is software that not only helps you manage your projects, but keeps things entertaining enough to get everyone on board. In this Asana review, we’ll see how being enjoyable to use can make good software better.
Asana is a big player in project management and valued at $900 million, despite only being launched in 2012. It boasts several big clients, including NASA, Red Bull and The New York Times.
It has a big reputation, but we’re going to put it through its paces to see how it compares to the best project management software.
- Fun to use
- Excellent in-app guidance
- Easy & intuitive
- Integrations allow data sharing with many services
- Strong security
- Could scare users afraid of narwhals
- Slow support
Like all project management software, the core workflow of Asana is to build projects around tasks and subtasks. They can then be arranged into sections and assigned to people, letting you keep track of what is going on. Team members can focus on what matters to them, while also seeing the bigger picture.
That’s useful for online teams, where the lack of water-cooler talk means information doesn’t flow as readily as it otherwise might. Even if you work the traditional way, in a shared office, having an explicit overview of everyone’s role and what they are doing is helpful.
The tasks and subtasks you create can be assigned to different people. You can comment on each one, meaning you can keep useful discussion about each part of your project in one place.
You can also upload files to each task and share them with team members. They can be up to 100MB in size and you can attach as many as you want. which makes Asana an excellent way to share files online.
The attachments system makes Asana useful as a simple cloud storage service, but, if you need to store files larger than 100MB, take a look at our article on the best cloud storage. In addition to providing more space, a dedicated service will let you sync files to your computer, as well as offer other features.
Dependency management, as the name suggests, allows you to make tasks dependent on others. That way, you can spot bottlenecks in your project and make sure you don’t have people sitting around waiting for others to finish before they can start to work.
Asana offers several ways to view the tasks that you add to your project. They include its calendar and timeline views. The calendar view is useful when you need to see what you have to do in the coming days or plan your holidays. The timeline view shows how tasks flow into one another and gives you a sense of where you are in the project.
Asana includes many integrations, which allow you to share data with other services. You can import data from outside, too, so you can get up and running quickly. That’s especially useful if you have done a lot of work setting up another platform. There is also a .csv importer that lets you use a spreadsheet to set up an Asana project with the tasks already in place.
The Zapier service lets you access even more, including Trello, Salesforce and JIRA, so you won’t be short of options for using other online platforms in conjunction with Asana.
With so much going on, it is good to know that Asana has several ways to get an overview of everything. You can see what needs to be done in the status view and generate reports showing what is happening with the assigned tasks in the project.
You can also set a project status, so if you want to let the team know that things are going okay, you can set it to green. If things aren’t going well, then a yellow, or even red, status will let everyone know that they need to do better.
In addition to a browser version, there are Android and iOS apps, so your team can keep track of how things are going wherever they are.
Asana Features Overview
When you begin using Asana, you get a tour that is clear, easy to follow and shows you the basics of how to use the software. There is plenty of explanatory text to teach you how to use new features as you explore what’s on offer.
Using Asana is a breeze. The user interface is intuitive and attractive. You can generally find what you need when you want to. The screen is divided into sections with controls that are clear and fonts that are easy to read.
Color is used well to highlight projects and help you pick out useful buttons and text. The level of detail is high enough to get plenty of information on the screen without it becoming too crowded.
You can get a lot done without having to consult the help section and that elevates Asana above other tools, such as Wrike, when it comes to accessibility (read our Wrike review).
When you set up a new project, you don’t have to start from scratch. In addition to being able to import data from an outside service or file, there are several project templates you can use as a starting point.
One of our favorite features is the celebrations. They are cute animations that sometimes happen when you get things done. They don’t always trigger, and we don’t know the exact rules, but that’s part of the fun. In addition to the narwhal, which we love, there are several other creatures included. The more you do in Asana, the more you’ll see.
Those little touches make the software likeable and bring joy to a category of software that can feel gray at times.
Though it is intuitive to use, if you do get stuck with Asana there are plenty of options for help. If you are using it for the first time, read our Asana beginner’s guide, which will give you tips on how to use the software.
User-friendliness is one of Asana’s strengths. It goes the extra mile to ease you into using it and makes it easy to get things done. It does not hold you back and it even manages to entertain you from time to time. Along with its excellent help system, that makes Asana a great choice for the less technically minded and anyone that enjoys using quality, well-designed software.
Asana has a good quality free offering and provides plenty of reasons to upgrade to its paid plans. At $9.99 per month, its premium version is affordable for most businesses and online teams.
The paid offerings remove the team limit of 15 users. Some features, such as the timeline and task dependencies, also require the paid plans.
Upgrade to Business, which costs $19.99, and you’ll get access to portfolios, allowing you to keep an eye on the most important parts of your project. You also get a customer success manager, who can help you set up your projects and fine-tune them to get the most out of them.
Go for the full Enterprise package and you’ll get priority support as well as the ability to use SAML for extra security. It also offers data deletion, though we feel that is something that should be available in all packages, as we will discuss next in the privacy section.
When you sign up for Asana, you are asked to enter a credit card, but there is an option to skip that, which you’ll find if you look carefully.
Asana is reasonably priced and has a decent free offering, too, so we don’t have any complaints about it in terms of cost.
Asana takes security and privacy seriously, with its many security features and compliance with recent privacy laws.
It complies with the General Data Protection Regulation and the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework, giving you rights regarding what happens to your stored data. Full data deletion is only included as part of the Enterprise plan, though, so it appears that EU residents get the feature for free because the GDPR gives them rights that those in other locations don’t have.
It uses TLS 1.1 encryption for data transfer and has also completed an SOC 2 type 1 audit, with a type 2 audit on the way, so its claims on security carry weight.
Asana participates in bug bounty programs, so it doesn’t take security for granted, working to find and fix vulnerabilities in its platform. Take a look at our penetration testing article for more on security and bug bounties. The company has a strong record, with no history of security breaches as far as we are aware.
In addition to making sure its security and privacy are up to scratch, Asana offers users ways to manage things themselves.
You can export your stored data at any time as a .json or .csv file. That means if you want to leave the service, you can take your information with you, which is nice to know.
It also gives you information about uptime. If you check its status page, you can learn about any recent problems or outages. That is useful when trying to figure out if there is an issue with your network or Asana’s.
Overall, the service’s security record is fine. We would prefer that all users have the right to delete their data, rather than just EU residents and those on its Enterprise plan, though.
Asana has plenty of tutorials that are laid out well and show you how to work with it. We never had a reason to contact support while using it as the tutorials and its help pages offered enough information.
Though there are a lot of resources available, we couldn’t find a way to talk directly to a support person on the free plan. We had a couple of questions about the service, which we put to the sales team instead.
The live sales chat representatives weren’t able to tell us what kind of encryption Asana used, which was quite reasonable given that it was a tricky question for sales to answer. They did give us a link to a support contact page after five minutes, though, and fair play to them for admitting they couldn’t answer instead of jerking us around.
We fired off an inquiry via the support form and, after seven hours, they got back to us with a link to their security statement page, which included the information we asked for. Seven hours isn’t the fastest response we’ve gotten, but it is an acceptable time.
The are many help pages and they are varied and snappy to navigate. There is an excellent forum, too, where questions are answered quickly and plenty of information is contained. Should you want to get deep into the platform, there’s also a developer guide that explains how to work with the API.
Asana’s service and support is good, though not one of its strongest areas. Of course, its excellence in user-friendliness means you’ll have less reason to contact support than Wrike users, for example.
Asana manages to do what we would never have believed possible: make project management fun. It is pleasant to use and has a wealth of features that make arranging your project easy. It allows you to keep you team members up to date with a minimum of fuss, too.
In terms of complexity, Asana sits somewhere in between the simplicity of Trello and the powerful, but hard to grasp, Wrike. We recommend it to anyone who needs advanced project management features.
Asana is best in class for ease of use and user-friendliness, and it has a strong feature set. Its security and privacy are more than acceptable and there are plenty of support options.
Its best features are, as you’d expect, limited to the paid plans, but there is a free trial and it is well worth testing if you’re in the market for an organizational tool.
We hope we’ve given you an idea of what Asana can do, and whether it can meet your needs. If you’ve used it, please share your experience in the comments below. Thanks for reading.