monday.com vs Trello: A Project Management Kanban Fight for 2021

When it comes to project management, monday.com and Trello are two of the biggest names out there. See how they compare in this monday.com vs Trello matchup.

Fergus O'Sullivan
By Fergus O'Sullivan (Editor-at-Large)
— Last Updated: 2021-03-23T14:25:45+00:00 Facts checked by: Andrea Babic

Trello is one of the most used task management apps out there — and our best kanban tool — thanks to its ease of use and excellent free plan, while monday.com leads our ranking of the best project management software, hands down. However, is monday.com the best in all scenarios? In this monday.com vs Trello battle, we’ll compare the two to find out the answer to that question.

Your first instinct may be to think that monday.com, as our overall best program of its kind, is the natural winner and you’d be right. However, for certain people in certain circumstances, it’s far too cumbersome to use, like performing surgery with a meat cleaver. In those cases, Trello can sneak in and score a few easy wins.

Because of that, we’ve split our ”features” round into two to properly showcase Trello’s abilities when compared to monday.com’s. However, in case you’d rather make up your own mind instead of following our tortured logic, we recommend you check out our Trello review and monday.com review and come to your own conclusions.

  • Well, it depends on what you’re going to use it for — but generally speaking, yes. While Trello is a better kanban board than monday.com, monday.com does every other thing better than Trello does.

  • Yes, it’s great, even. Monday.com offers a streamlined interface, tons of built-in automation and a whole bunch of features that make managing workflow a breeze. We definitely recommend you check it out using the trial.

  • Trello only has one plan worth mentioning, besides the free one, and that costs $10 per month. Monday.com starts at $8 per month, but that plan isn’t great. The next one up costs $10 per month, and that’s about on par with Trello’s paid plan in terms of features. So when compared, monday.com costs about the same as Trello does.

Trello vs monday.com: Setting Up a Fight

Over the course of five rounds, we’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each contender before deciding a winner. At the end of it all, we’ll tally the rounds and declare an overall victor. Then cake will be had. So, enough with the preamble, let’s get cracking.

1. Features

We’ll kick off with a round about features, which is pretty much what each provider can do and how it will help you manage workflow and get tasks done. Both monday.com and Trello do a great job, but they work very differently from each other. In the end, it’s monday.com’s approach that wins it the round.

We’ll go over the basics first, and we’ll start with Trello. In a way, it’s two programs: the free version, which offers a very nice kanban board and some extras, and the paid version which can do all kinds of stuff. On the other hand, we have monday.com, which offers the whole enchilada, but costs moolah straight out the gate (the 14-day free trial doesn’t count).

Basic Features

If we use Trello’s free plan as a yardstick to determine basic features, it’s definitely the better bet for people who like simpler software. You get the kanban board as well as a whole bunch of scheduling and sorting options — it’s more than enough to run a small organization. You also get to pick one so-called power-up (more about those later) from a massive library of them.

jira vs trello team collaboration with audience
Trello probably has the best kanban boards in the business, and we love the overview it offers.

If all you need is a simple system that helps you keep track of what you need to do, then this is it. You write tasks into cards, keep them in specific columns and move stuff around as it gets done; it’s that simple and it works great. We go into more depth in our Trello tutorial, but in essence, this is how it works.

Monday.com doesn’t seem to have any basic functions, but it kicks it up into high gear from the get-go. You work from the main table, which you can impose specific views on (including a kanban board), and you really need a beginner’s tutorial just to get started.

monday-vs-trello-monday-main
Monday.com’s main screen.

You should keep in mind that the above screen is a relatively simple view, too: we haven’t even gotten into the dozens of different little extras that can be added. With it being so complex, even just doing something simple can seem daunting. If you just want something that works without too much brain sweat poured in, Trello is the one.

Advanced Features

However, if you want to do more than move cards around, monday.com is where it’s at. Trello does have much of the functionality of monday.com, but its power-up system can make it a bit clunky to install it all. A recent update added some extra views — like a list, a timeline and a built-in calendar — but they’re like default add-ons more than anything else.

To illustrate, let’s take a quick look at how power-ups work. To start, “power-up” is basically just some marketing executive’s unnecessary rebranding of the term “add-on.” If you’re on the free plan, you get only one, while being a paying customer gets you an unlimited amount. We’ll go into what we think of this all-or-nothing approach in our next section on pricing.

Trello is pretty relaxed about what it offers in the power-up menu, so when you open it you’re greeted by an overwhelming amount of options. These are both power-ups that Trello itself has developed, as well as third-party applications.

Trello vs Jira project tracking abilities
Trello offers lots of power-ups, most of which add some much-needed functionality to the task manager.

Issues With Add-Ons

However, there are two issues with the add-on approach. The first is that there’s just a massive jumble of options and some are pretty much the same, differing only in specific details. If you’re looking for an add-on that does something specific, you could end up looking for a long time and have to go through several versions that may vary wildly in quality.

That’s annoying and exhausting, but then again, setting up any kind of planning system is. The real problem is that Trello is a kanban board first and foremost and that asking for it to do more is like using a square hole to fit round pegs. Still, though, the company — and some add-on creators — insists that it can meet even advanced project management needs.

However, tacking on Gantt charts and complicated timelines using power-ups feels really clunky, especially if you’re also using a program like monday.com, which is designed to do all that from the outset. Then, the whole experience is just a lot smoother, something you can see even just looking at the menus where you pick extra views from.

monday-tutorial-views-center
The monday.com Views Center.

Sure, monday.com seems to offer fewer options, but that’s because it needs fewer: the base product has a lot more going for it, even though it is a bit complicated. On top of that, the built-in add-ons are generally tailored to the software, which makes them work a lot better. That said, we have mostly good things to say about monday.com integrations.

So the upshot of this round is that if all you need feature-wise is an easy-to-use kanban board, then Trello is the better program. If you need anything else, though, monday.com is where it’s at, even if that does mean a steeper learning curve.

Round: Features
Point for monday.com
Visit Trello0
Visit monday.com1

2. Pricing

Our second round is a tricky one, as we compare our two providers’ pricing models. The thing is that, in some ways, Trello is the clear winner as it offers a free plan (it’s one of the best free project management tools, in fact), while in others, it’s a bit of a lemon when compared to monday.com.

Free
  • 10 boards, Unlimited users, 1 power-up
Trello Gold
  • Unlimited personal boards, 1 user, 3 power-ups
Business Class
  • Unlimited boards, Unlimited users, Unlimited power-ups, Added views
Enterprise
  • Enhanced security options

We talked a bit about Trello’s plans already in the features section, and really the free plan is where you get the most out of it. The Business Class plan, which is the only one worth mentioning, is $10 per user per month and just gets you unlimited power-ups, plus the newly added views, which are nice but don’t add as much value as may seem at first. While handy, they’re not as versatile as monday.com’s equivalents.

We would like Trello’s pricing a lot more if it offered some in-between option, where you get five power-ups, or even 10. Trello Gold does this, but it’s only for individual subscribers, not small business teams, so it doesn’t count. This all-or-nothing approach feels like a way to rope people into paying for stuff they don’t need, especially since Trello isn’t any cheaper than its competitors.

For example, monday.com starts at $8 per user per month, though the next tier up at $10 is the first plan that’s any good.

Standard
  • Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Expanded features
Enterprise
  • Enterprise-level features.

monday.com Pricing

Monday.com does something similar to Trello in that it hides features that may be vital to some behind a more expensive tier by locking the time-tracking tier into the Pro plan. It’s a crummy tactic, whomever is doing it, and we don’t see specifically why those two views cost $6 more per user per month — the other features, though, we understand.

Putting such gripes aside, however, $10 (or even $8) with monday.com gets you a whole lot more than $10 does with Trello, especially if we look at the quality rather than quantity of integrations and add-ons. So, if you’re going to pay for a project management tool, your money is best spent with monday.com.

However, that’s not the whole picture: monday.com does not offer a free plan even though plenty of its competitors do (Asana, for example). Trello does have a free plan, and it’s a good one. That kind of slides the scale back into its favor, so rather than agonize over Gordian knots, we’re going to put one around our necks and call this round a tie.

Round: Pricing
No clear winner, points for both
Visit Trello1
Visit monday.com2

3. User-Friendliness

With pricing behind us, let’s talk about something a bit more subjective than other topics, namely user-friendliness. This is one of those areas where it’s hard to exactly place the line between bad and good, but both contenders are definitely not bad most of the time. However, when looking at the whole picture, monday.com wins, even if just by a smidge.

This is mainly because although Trello is easy to use, this is by virtue of it not being able to do much. Monday.com, on the other hand, has a ton of bits and bobs that are easy to navigate and use despite being chock-a-block with features. So, while Trello makes it easier to move cards around than monday.com does, that’s just because that’s all it does.

Trello’s Simple UI

That said, if you just want an overview of what you’re doing, we definitely recommend Trello. You create lists (columns that indicate status, so whether a task is being worked on), populate those with cards (think of them as tasks) and then move the cards around when something changes. It’s a super simple system, but it works like a charm.

jira vs trello team collaboration with audience
Trello probably has the best kanban boards in the business, and we love the overview it offers.

All of Trello is built to support this, so besides the board, there’s just a tiny settings tab at the right. The only thing that complicates matters is power-ups, but as those are optional, we’ll leave them out of this evaluation. Now, compare that to monday.com, and, well….

monday vs trello monday confusing
Monday.com’s main interface.

monday.com Interface

The first time you see the monday.com interface you may feel a slight panic rise up. It’s daunting, to say the least, but you don’t have to drill particularly deep before you figure out what’s going on. You see, monday.com is as complicated as you make it. At heart, it’s just a great big massive table, everything else is just different ways of looking at it.

monday vs trello blank board
Monday.com’s table view.

Once you realize that your main input is in the screen above, monday.com becomes a lot easier to handle. You realize it’s actually very elegant in how it handles all the different views, and how well all of its add-ons integrate with each other.

That said, if it’s just a kanban board you want, Trello is the better option both in functionality and ease of use. However, if there’s more to your project than that, monday.com should be your first choice when it comes to everyday use, and thus it takes this round.

Round: User-Friendliness
Point for monday.com
Visit Trello1
Visit monday.com3

4. Service & Support

So far, monday.com is set to be the winner, but with two rounds to go, Trello still has some fight left in it. However, in this next round, it will have to once again bow to monday.com as Trello just doesn’t quite have the same panache when helping you out of a tight spot.

We realize “service and support” might be a bit vague, so this round is all about how each service helps you solve issues, but also how they get you started. Both have done a fantastic job here, with extensive documentation and other great resources in the knowledgebase, but the win goes to monday.com because it’s just that little bit better.

For example, when you start monday.com up, you’re immediately greeted with a whole bunch of pop-up tips that take you through the basics of using it. It shows you how to get started with table entries, where views are and all that. It manages to do so in a way that’s neither gratingly chipper nor tediously lecturing, for which we’re both grateful and appreciative.

Monday tutorial popups
Monday.com’s pop-ups.

This tone is continued in its many, many guides and online tutorials, which explain all the ins and outs of using monday.com and its different views and tables. If somehow you still get stuck, you can either go to the community forum or contact customer support, both of which are great options.

monday vs trello monday forum
Monday.com’s forum.

The monday.com community is very helpful and the forum is extensive, so you should find whatever you need there. If not, you can always reach out to monday.com’s help desk directly via email. Generally speaking, you should get a reply within a few hours that will give you both an answer as well as direct you to some further resources. It works well, no doubt about it.

Trello Support

Trello is a lot simpler than monday.com, so there’s less hand-holding. The support it gives is adequate, but a lot more bare-bones. For example, there are no tooltips when you get started, so you’ll have to get all the information you need from Trello’s guides. These are good — very good, even — but it can be a pain when you have a specific issue you’re dealing with.

Trello customer service
Trello’s support portal is one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen, especially for a free tool.

For those instances, you need to hit up the forums because Trello’s customer service — nine times out of 10 — just returns a link or two to guides you’ve likely already worked through. It can be frustrating, but the community is helpful and friendly, so you’ll be OK. It’s a bit more roundabout than we’d like, but it works.

Overall, Trello’s support and guides are good, but monday.com just puts in that little bit of extra effort to get you running. It also takes another round, putting it firmly in the lead as we go into our final bout.

Round: Service & Support
Point for monday.com
Visit Trello1
Visit monday.com4

5. Security & Privacy

Security and privacy are often underreported concerns when dealing with project management tools, but a hard look shows that neither service is a winner here. This is mainly based on both services’ dodgy privacy policies, which leave a little too much room for interpretation, if you ask us.

Atlassian, which owns Trello, admits to logging information and reserves the right to share it with third parties, for whatever reason. While we have no experience of any ads being targeted our way — or received reports from readers — the fact is that your movements on your board are being monitored. That’s the price of free.

Monday.com, however, has no excuse for its confusing privacy policy, which also admits to some shady practices, like digital fingerprinting. It doesn’t seem like that’s particularly necessary for the product, and we wonder why the service does it. Also weird is how the admin of an account has access to every participant’s data, which also seems unnecessary.

Security

So, neither service wins any prizes when it comes to how it protects your data from themselves, though both do a much better job of keeping outside attackers from your information.

They encrypt data in transit and at rest — when it’s being sent and when it’s stored, respectively — using AES ciphers, and you may want to check out our description of encryption to find out what that means. Both services can also have two-factor authentication enabled for extra security, which is a nice touch.

On top of that, monday.com is SOC II Type 2 certified, meaning it underwent an audit of its security practices by a third party — a security firm, usually — and passed muster. On the other hand, Trello disappoints a little as it uses Amazon Web Services and its leaky buckets for data storage, so we wouldn’t store our PIN on there.

That said, we’re still calling the round a tie as it feels off to declare a winner when both services play very fast and loose with customers’ data. It’s a pity they do so, as there’s no real need to. If you want better privacy than either has to offer, check out Airtable for a service that treats your data with respect.

Round: Security & Privacy
No clear winner, points for both
Visit Trello2
Visit monday.com5

The Verdict

Well, there’s no two ways about it: monday.com trounces Trello in almost every regard and is the clear winner of this battle. Though people looking to go light on the micromanagement may want to opt for Trello, anybody looking to unleash some serious control over projects needs to check out monday.com, stat.

Winner: monday.com

Which of the two services do you prefer? Did we miss any details you feel should have been included? Share your thoughts on these subjects and others in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.