In the battle for the title of the best free project management software, the same two names will always float to the top: Trello and Asana. They’re both known for their user-friendliness and efficiency — but most of all their generous free plans — for which they have gained quite a following. In this article, we’ll pit Trello vs Asana to see which one is the better of the two.
For those of you looking for a quick answer, Asana is better. That is, unless you need a kanban board and little else, in which case Trello is your best bet. As you can read in our Trello review, we just love it here at Cloudwards. However, compared to the features and flexibility of Asana, it’s just not a contender as a full project management suite.
That said, if you’re looking for the best project management software out there irrespective of it having a free tier or not, you may want to take a peek at our monday.com review. It’s our favorite project management tool by far, thanks to its great team collaboration options, ability to manage projects on the fly and gentle learning curve.
- Value can be hard to determine, but overall Asana delivers more for less than Trello does. This is mainly because the power-up system can end up costing you more than you may think at first.
- If all you need is a kanban board and you don’t have use for many of Asana’s bells and whistles, then Trello should be your choice, as the Trello board is just way better than Asana’s.
- Trello gives you only one power-up per free account, so use it sparingly. Asana’s free tier is more flexible, but is still severely limited if you want to run a team bigger than just a few people.
If you’re curious how our two current contenders stack up against monday.com, check out our Trello vs monday.com or monday.com vs Asana battles. If you already had the popcorn ready for this fight, though, let’s step into the ring.
Both are project management software, tools that help you create tasks and put them in order so you can keep track of them better. They’re used by massive corporations and freelancers alike.
Depends on what you need them for, but overall we think Asana is better. However, if the simplicity of a kanban board is all you need, then opt for Trello.
Well, yes, but no. It has a great freemium plan, meaning you can spend no money for basic functions, but to unlock its full potential as a project management tool, you need to pay up.
Yes, it does, through the Harvest app, which you can enable in the settings. Just go to your profile settings and turn on Harvest under “apps.”
Overall, no. monday.com is better, but not by much. We think monday.com’s pricing is a bit better and it has better support. It also beats Asana when it comes to security.
Trello vs Asana Project Management: What’s the Difference?
If you’re completely new to this whole project management malarkey, you may just be looking for a quick explanation of the difference between Asana and Trello. In brief, Trello is a free kanban board that adds a ton of extra features once you pay for it. Asana offers a ton of free features, one of which is a similar board, with even more capabilities once you lay your money down.
Who Is Trello For?
Trello is aimed at people who need a kanban board as a central part of their project management software, and treat all other features as flowing from that. That includes media organizations (for example, Cloudwards uses Trello for its editorial calendar) as well as any other organization that focuses on a linear flow of tasks.
That grouping also often includes freelancers and people who just want to track a few daily tasks. Kanban boards — Trello’s in particular — are incredibly easy to understand and to work with. They’re great for people who just want to organize a few things and then get to work. As added attraction, Trello is completely free, making it even more appealing for one-man bands.
Who Is Asana For?
Asana is more aimed at businesses, with the free version doubling as a draw to people comfortable juggling many tasks. It also can do more with task dependencies, though Gantt charts aren’t unlocked until the Business plan (for a free alternative, take a look at TeamGantt). If you’re a freelancer performing a lot of small tasks or you employ contractors of your own, Asana may be your ticket.
We don’t really recommend Asana for personal use, as companies will get the most out of it, and not just small businesses, either. Looking at everything Asana can do — from keeping tasks organized, to custom fields, to dependencies, to workflow management and beyond — it’s suitable for a few people working part time to massive corporations employing thousands.
To see exactly what these two project management tools can do for you, let’s get into the battle. We’ll compare Trello and Asana over five rounds, based on the criteria we use in our project management reviews.
We’ll start with the features round. However, because of the way Asana and Trello have built up their plans, there’s going to be a lot of overlap with our second round, which focuses on pricing. This means that in some specific cases you may need to fine-tune the conclusions of both rounds to your own needs before making any purchasing decisions.
As for which is the better when it comes to features, the short answer is that it’s Asana, but only because Trello is a bit of an odd duck. Rather than offer different abilities out of the box, Trello relies on so-called power-ups to add to its functionality. These are integrations, both third-party and developed by Trello itself, and they work in a unique way.
Powering Up Trello
As we mentioned before, Trello (in and of itself) is little more than a kanban board. It’s a really good one with some cool built-in automations, but in the end what it does at its core is allow you to move cards about. It’s handy, but it’s not exactly what Fortune 500 companies are built on. Where it gets its power and versatility from are the power-ups, which can add all kinds of functions.
Whether you need a calendar view to track due dates, integrations with Google Drive (read our Google Drive review to see why that would be a good idea) or even add a Gantt chart, there’s a power-up that will let you do it. Sounds good, but there’s a catch in the way that Trello allots the number of power-ups you get.
When you sign up for the free version of Trello, you get the board and one power-up — that’s it. Trello is quite basic, so one integration is barely enough to get anything done, but, hey, that’s just the price of free. Getting the Trello Gold plan gets you three power-ups, but it’s only applicable to personal boards (freelancers, basically), so kind of useless to most.
The only way for most people to get more power-ups is to get an unlimited amount by signing up to Trello’s Business Class plan, which costs you $10 per user per month if you pay annually. We’re not quite convinced it’s worth it, but we’ll discuss money in the next round. For now, let’s see what Asana has instead of this all-or-nothing approach.
Trello Power-Ups vs Asana
To start, Asana’s freemium plan has a lot more going for it in terms of features than Trello’s. While its kanban board isn’t as good, it’s a lot more flexible than its competitor simply because it offers more.
Besides the board, you get a list view, a calendar (which is a power-up with Trello and a pet peeve of ours), unlimited projects (Trello restricts free users to 10) and even unlimited file storage.
As an aside, Asana has managed something that most cloud storage services have not: actual unlimited cloud storage. File size is capped at 100MB, but it’s still a good deal.
If you want more than these features, you’re going to have to pony up, and pretty seriously, too. Asana’s first paid tier, Premium, is $11 per user per year if billed annually, while the next, Business, is $25. However, you get what you pay for, and you get a lot with Asana, from timeline views to workload schedulers to multiple board views — you name it.
We could claim that Trello is the better deal, of course, because you pay just 10 bucks and get all the features you could ever want. However, Asana has one more advantage, namely that all its functions are developed and integrated by Asana. Trello doesn’t always develop these integrations itself, which means they don’t always work as smoothly.
Add to that the fact that some power-ups require another payment for using them, and you have some odd cocktails and strange matchups, plus some extra bills to pay. As such, we think Asana is the winner when it comes to features. It simply works better.
As we said in the start of the last section, there’s some overlap between the pricing and features criteria when comparing Trello vs Asana. So much like the last round, after some caveats and hemming and hawing, the pricing round goes to Asana. This is because when you add it all up, Asana carries a little more value than Trello.
Value is a pretty subjective criterion, especially when comparing free products, but we like it more than just bashing programs on the bottom line. While Asana can get a whole lot pricier than Trello, it just offers more, as we discussed in the features section. Before we get to any of that, though, let’s look at some numbers.
1-year plan $ 3.75/ month
$45.00 billed every year
Save 25 %
1-year plan $ 9.99/ month
$119.88 billed every year
Save 20 %
1-year plan $ 10.99/ month
$131.88 billed every year
Save 19 %
1-year plan $ 24.99/ month
$299.88 billed every year
Save 18 %
As you can see, pricing is pretty straightforward with both. All prices are per user per month and can be paid with credit card, with Asana also accepting PayPal. In this article we’ll assume that you’re choosing to be billed annually, as otherwise you’re just stealing money from your own pocket.
Another thing you’ll see is that, as we mentioned in the features section, the way the plans are built up is very different. The exception is the Enterprise plans, but we’ll leave them out of the discussion as they’re pretty specific products and not commonly used among our readers.
This means that you’re going to have to figure out exactly what you need from a project management tool before committing to one, which is why it’s so important to take the free plan for a spin or, better yet, try out Asana’s 30-day trial. That said, let’s take a look at the most important sticking points and see why we like Asana more than we do Trello.
Asana vs Trello Pricing
We’ve talked about Trello Business Class vs Asana Premium already, so unless you really need several power-ups that give you something Asana has locked away in its higher-tier Business plan, we would say Asana is definitely worth the extra dollar per user per month. Considering not all power-ups are free, you’ll be making back that extra buck quickly.
Things get a little trickier when looking at Asana’s Business plan, which is $25 per user per month if billed annually. It has no Trello equivalent, thanks to its everything-or-nothing philosophy, meaning it’s a no-brainer at first glance. If choosing between $10 or $25, the choice is easily made, right?
Well, yes, but also no. The draw of Asana’s Business plan are its cool and relatively unique features. These include portfolios (which allow you to keep an eye on multiple projects on multiple levels), a workload view that lets you track who is doing what in your team, and advanced integration with Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud and a few other high-end programs.
Thing is, though, that besides the integrations with apps like Slack, the only way to get all this extra functionality with Trello is to sign up with providers that also cost money. Rather than pay $25 for one program that does it all, you may end up paying a lot more than that for a hodgepodge of apps that may or may not end up playing well together.
What it boils down to is that Trello may be the best kanban board out there — better than Asana’s — but if you need more than the board, you may want to look elsewhere. We really like Asana, but if you want to keep Trello’s functionality, check out Jira, which is owned by the same company and integrates very well with it, as we discuss in our Trello vs Jira article.
Also, if you think all the above is just too complicated for you, check out Basecamp and its extremely straightforward pricing scheme. If you like Asana’s Business plan but want something a tad cheaper, we recommend you take a look at monday.com’s pricing, which may be a good alternative.
The first two rounds were a lot of nitty gritty. To balance it out, the next few, including this one, will hopefully be a bit more clear cut as we discuss user-friendliness. Thing is, there’s pretty much all positives here: both Asana and Trello are very user friendly and there’s very little to hold against them. We’re declaring this round a tie, but let’s go over the main points.
Trello is one of the best kanban-based project management tools around, thanks to its ease of use. Opening an account takes just a minute or two — just fill in your email address and you’re off to the races. There are some great tutorials that help you with getting started, but you barely need them, the concepts are so simple and the Trello app so intuitive.
Tasks are represented by cards — you can add details and labels and all that by clicking them and getting their “back” — which are arranged into columns. Columns usually represent the stage tasks are in, so in progress or even finished. You drag and drop cards between columns, so rearranging projects can be done in a matter of minutes if necessary.
The premise behind Trello is simple, but we have to laud it for how well it implements it; no other piece of project management software has managed kanban to quite the same degree. On top of that, it integrates very well with tons of other apps, including popular messaging app Slack as well as other project management solutions.
The Asana Desktop App
Asana’s kanban board isn’t as nice as Trello’s, but other than that it’s as easy to use. As it can do more, it’s a tad more complicated to use, but it makes up for it with a massive amount of thorough, easy-to-understand tutorials. These will have you using the Asana software like a pro within just a few hours of signing up. Of course, registering is a breeze, just like with Trello.
The core of Asana isn’t the board — though it can be, if you want — but rather the list, like with monday.com. It’s not as informative when you’re putting it together; Trello is more rewarding in that sense, but the end result Asana offers will blow you away.
With a single click of a button, you can shift between views of your projects, from kanban to calendar to timeline, as well as tracking the progress of multiple projects. Even complex projects are reduced to just a few boards and lists you can grasp with ease.
Creating new projects and tasks is easy when you use Asana — it’s a matter of a single click and you’re good to go. You can change the details of tasks by clicking on them and a pane will slide out, allowing you to tweak any details. Like Trello, Asana also integrates with a whole bunch of other apps, meaning you and your team members can always find a way to get work done.
As you can see from even this brief overview, there’s no real way to pick a winner here, so we’re going to give this one of the most well-deserved draws the Cloudwards team has ever handed out.
4. Service & Support
In the fourth round, we finally give Trello a clear win. While Asana has great tutorials and forums, its support staff aren’t as quick to answer your questions. Trello not only helps you out with great pop-ups and tutorials, it also has a contact form, making this round an easy victory.
Asana prefers that you focus on its guides, Academy and all that. If you’re truly stuck, you can contact support. However, they generally reply slowly to user issues (technical issues are another matter) so you’re best off sticking to the knowledgebase.
We won’t slam Asana too hard, though, as it works pretty well. The cost-cutting obviously didn’t extend to the people that wrote the resources you’re presented with. Plus, as we mention in our own Asana guide, you can become an expert just using the documentation and asking smart questions on the forums.
However, we’re giving the round to Trello because it has all that, and then some. Trello allows you to contact it through a contact form and while most answers we got were simple redirections to the relevant support page or forum post, it was great just to get some guidance. Still, you may want to look through our Trello tutorial to get your feet wet.
If you’re worried about running into trouble while first getting acquainted with project management tools, we recommend using Trello, thanks to this helpful feature. If you’re not too worried about working your way through some guides, then either is a good bet.
5. Security & Privacy
Now we arrive at our final round, where we take a look at the security and privacy of our two contenders. We’re going to declare this round for Trello, though this is mostly because of some small advantages when it comes to security. When it comes to privacy, both services could both do a little better by taking a leaf out of Airtable’s book (read our Airtable review).
First, though, is security, where we like Trello a little more. For example, both Trello and Asana use TLS to protect files when in transit between your computer and the app.
Both also run their sites off of Amazon Web Services, which doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to securing files, encryption notwithstanding. For more information, you can also check out Asana’s statement on security or Trello’s “operations and security” page.
However, one thing Trello has that Asana doesn’t is two-factor authentication. If enabled, this makes you log in using a second device or an app like Google Authy. With that, Trello pulls ahead here, even if just by a tiny bit, as both services don’t do too well in the next subsection.
Asana and Trello both do more data retention than we feel is necessary, as you can read in their privacy policies (Trello’s and Asana’s). While we’re not too worried about either one of these services selling our data, it is a little worrisome that they’re keeping any of it at all. While we understand that they’d keep some to help improve their product, this reads like they’re retaining a lot more.
That said, the worst of it falls on people subscribing to the freemium plans, which, like many things in the modern world, you end up paying for with your data. Still, you may want to think twice about what exactly you tell Trello or Asana about yourself when signing up.
The Verdict: Trello vs Asana
At the end of five rounds we have a tie. However, if we’re honest, features and pricing are probably more important to the average project manager than security and support are, so we’re confident in declaring Asana the overall winner. That said, there are plenty of reasons to use Trello, thanks to its project management features — it’s just that Asana just does it all a little better.
Which do you think should be the top dog? Did we get it right, or was Trello done dirty? Are Asana’s features all they’re cracked up to be? Share your thoughts on these questions and any others in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.