The second of a two-part post on free cross-platform apps to help improve your creative workflow
UPDATE: Springpad is no longer available. Trello goes from strength to strength. While this post is still useful, you might prefer my updated review of Trello.
Last week I looked at the super-flexible and highly customisable app, Springpad in terms of how it might help us in organising our creative lives both in terms of promoting our art-form as well as our studio practice. Today I compare, Springpad's very competent rival, Trello.
As I said last week, these apps fall into the category of project managers rather than to do lists and, as such, are incredibly useful tools for creatives looking to visualise all aspects of a project from the initial ideas stage through to promotion and beyond. Whether you want to gather and organise ideas for your next book, blog or painting series, plan an art event or market something you've already created, either of these tools will let you do it in a pleasurable, visual way.
So just why do I find myself hooked on Trello?
Unlike Springpad's notebook concept, Trello's interface is organised around collections of 'boards' on which to store your information
These collections are listed on the first screen and differentiated by the option of changing the collection's icon colour from a choice of six.
As with Springpad, the number of collections you can have is unlimited and Trello have now introduced a system whereby the most recently used are shown at the top to make navigation easier.
Once you leave this initial screen and open up one of your collections, things start to get a lot more exciting.
Trello's Noticeboards View
Within each collection you can create different boards to contain lists of items. You can name the boards whatever you want so one could be the title of a project and another 'Urgent', 'Done' or 'Pending' or each board could be a different aspect of the project. The system is totally flexible and you can really make it work however seems most sensible to you.
Within each of these items you can add multiple checklists, photos, tags, an overall due date and 'members'.
Let's Get Visual
Of course, it is the visual aspect that makes both Springpad and Trello so appealing to the creative mind and I particularly like the way that Trello expands the view of the item to include a photograph but doesn't just leave a blank space when there isn't one. By default, the last photo you added to an item will appear above the item name on the board, but you can override that in the photo attachment section by choosing which photo you want as your ‘cover’.
Like Springpad, Trello also allows you to add comments, making it useful if you are working on a team project but also just for jotting down random ideas that strike you when you look at your boards.
Drag and Drop in Trello
Where Trello's real strength as a project organiser comes into its own is in the way it allows you to pick up and drag any item from one board to another, making it a breeze to move something you need to do right away to 'Urgent' or from 'Ideas' to your current project or however you've got your system set up. The whole item will move, complete with images, checklists etc. You can even move items from one collection to another although you have to drill down to the option.
Which Visual Project Organiser - Trello or Springpad?
Both Trello and Springpad both have such a robust set of features - many of which there simply isn't time to cover here - that it's truly difficult to decide between them or say that one is better than the other. In the end, since they are both free, I suggest you try them both and see which works better with your workflow.
Tempted by Trello?
Give it a try!
Please note although I am a Trello beta-tester, I'm not a financial affiliate.