Trello claims that it services “millions” of people,” and is the choice product for big brands including Google, Pixar, National Geographic, and Kickstarter.
But Trello isn’t the perfect tool for everyone—even if you’re looking for free Kanban software. Below, I outline a comprehensive Trello review and highlight its best alternatives.
First, a Trello review
Trello is an online Kanban tool that is deceptively feature-rich—I say “deceptively” because its basic layout is fundamentally minimalist, but each card is loaded with features.
If you can categorize a process and learn how to drag-and-drop tasks, you can learn how to use Trello.
When you click a Trello card, more information pops up. You can see who’s working on the project, apply labels and filters, assign due dates, attach files, and collaborate with your team.
Move the card to represent where the task is along your streamlined workflow. In IT teams, Scrum users often set up a Trello board’s workflow to have columns for product backlog, sprint planning, current sprint, in progress, and done.
See how easy it is to set up?
You can even use Trello in your personal life.
All that said, Trello isn’t perfect. While it has over 1,500 reviews on Capterra and an average of 4.5 out of five stars, many users raise legitimate concerns.
For example, Trello relies on extensions, called “Power-Ups,” for many of its features. If you want more than one Power-Up, which include invoicing, time tracking, reporting, calendars, repeated tasks, and alternative views (such as Gantt charts), pricing goes from free to $9.99 per user. For many other free project management tools, those features are included.
Additionally, according to many reviews, Trello can sometimes load slowly and send email notifications long after a task has been changed—especially on cluttered boards.
Customer service regularly gets low marks, and if you want any level of high-end security, including SSO, 2-Factor Authentication, or file encryption at rest, be ready to spend $20.83 per user for the enterprise version (though Trello does provide bulk discounts).
With these problems at hand, many turn to Trello’s competitors.
But then the question becomes: which one?
Best Trello alternatives
When evaluating Trello alternatives, I quickly became overwhelmed. My spreadsheet was filled with online Kanban software. With information aggregated from Google, Capterra’s software directory, Quora, Reddit, and LinkedIn, I quickly found 65 companies claiming to be true Trello alternatives.
So I started to drill down into the best.
What do I mean by ‘the best’ Trello alternatives?
In order to qualify for this post, the Trello alternative had to offer the features that users love Trello for to begin with. I made sure the product was well loved, accessible, and not too expensive.
The qualifiers soon became the following. In order to make this list of best Trello alternatives, the reviewed software must:
- Offer a Kanban view
- Have at least 4.5 stars on Capterra
- Have at least ten different reviewers from different companies
- Offer an iOS and Android app
- Offer a free version
- Offer a first-tier upgrade that does not exceed $10 per month per user
Further, I considered what people like about Trello, as well as what features they wish Trello had. Trello competitors vary—as they should!—so special consideration was given to apps with these functions, though they didn’t act as qualifiers themselves.
Special feature considerations:
- Alternative views: Such as Gantt charts and task lists. Trello relies on Power-Ups for these features.
- Calendar: Trello relies on Power-Ups for this feature.
- Card filters: This feature is automatically included in Trello.
- Collaboration: Trello teams can comment and @mention each other. There are further Power-Up tools for collaboration, including video conferencing with appear.in, Google Hangouts, and join.me. Trello also offers other communication tools such as voting on cards and Slack integration.
- File sharing and board attachments: With Trello’s free version, users can attach up to 10 MB files. They can also link any file from popular file sharing services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive. Trello users can pay to upgrade if they want to attach files up to 250 MB and get Power-Ups for more advanced cloud file sharing features.
- Permissions: Trello allows permissions setting upon upgrading to business class.
- Recurring tasks: Trello relies on Power-Ups to set recurring tasks.
- Reporting: There are no reporting features in Trello’s free version. Power-Ups include burndown charts, flow diagrams, dashboards, and status reports.
- Time tracking: Trello uses a Harvest Power-Up for all time tracking. Harvest is free for one person and two projects, and $12 per person thereafter.
Charged with these qualifiers, I whittled down the list of top Trello alternatives to just six options. Because they differ in features, strengths, and weaknesses, I arranged them alphabetically. Jump ahead if there’s a particular product that you’re interested in.
If you’re someone who loves the idea of Excel, but not necessarily the execution, you may want to consider Airtable. This project management tool is like spreadsheets for super achievers who don’t want to waste time learning boring functions.
Everything—from photos to collaborators to notes to contacts to dates—can get tagged, filtered, and organized into a simple-to-understand system.
I don’t normally advocate for customer relationship management systems to overlap with your project management tool (relationships and projects are generally longer and short term, respectively), but Airtable is an exception to that rule—especially at its price point. The reason why Airtable is able to get away with it is because of its dynamic spreadsheet functions—spreadsheets are great for both project management and for keeping track of your customers, and Airtable’s organization and labeling capabilities make for a powerful tool that can do both.
But Airtable doesn’t just limit itself to a spreadsheet view. Users can take their filters and convert tasks to a Kanban board, gallery view, and calendar view, too.
As a Trello alternative, Airtable allows users to drag-and-drop file attachments, and it allows for @comments and filtered views. Airtable uses manual time tracking, allows for recurring tasks through Zapier, and drag-and-drop scheduling.
Standout feature: Lots of great tagging and filtering options to manipulate your data
Notable integrations: Box, GitHub, MailChimp, Slack, and Salesforce
Pricing structure: Airtable is free for unlimited bases (Airtable’s term for their spreadsheets), 1,200 records per base, 2 GB of attachments, and two weeks of revision and snapshot history. Upgrades start at $10 per user per month when billed annually.
What user reviews say about Airtable:
Used Airtable? Leave a review!
Asana has made many of Capterra’s lists of top project management tools before, including:
- The Top 10 Free and Open Source Project Management Software for Your Small Business
- The 12 Best Basecamp Alternatives
- The Top 10 Project Management Software Solutions for Entrepreneurs
And with over 1,600 reviews on Capterra, it’s consistently one of the most well-liked and well-known project management tools available.
When looking at the desired features list from Trello, Asana almost sweeps the board (pun intended).
For example, Asana offers multiple views, including lists, calendars, Gantt charts, and dashboards along with Kanban (which it just added in 2016). Users can drag and drop files right onto tasks, and files can be up to 100 MB each. There is no storage limit. You can set recurring tasks, and collaborate with team members and vendors alike in task and project conversations.
Standout feature: Massive number of integrations
Notable integrations: Dropbox, HipChat, Jira, Zendesk, Zenefits
Pricing structure: Asana is free for up to 15 users and offers unlimited projects, tasks, and conversations. For an upgrade cost of $9.99 per user per month, Asana removes all user number restrictions (yup, you could have a team of 1,000,000), and offers premium features such as custom templates, private teams, advanced reporting, and priority support.
What user reviews say about Asana:
Used Asana? Leave a review!
Are you a freelancer or entrepreneur with a small business? Avaza occupies the space between project management and accounting software, making it a great work management tool for businesses with under 50 employees. It’s particularly adept at connecting the project team with their external clients.
Avaza allows its users to share boards with third-party stakeholders. Customers can quickly see how much time has been spent on a specific project or task, monitor project cost, receive and pay invoices, and can sign up for automatic task notifications.
If you work with a bunch of freelancers, or work primarily on hourly contracts, Avaza’s dynamic time-tracking features will be particularly attractive. While users can estimate the amount of time they spent on any given task (the most basic time-tracking feature in any project management tool), they can also use Avaza to track hours on a project using Avaza’s stopwatch feature, or track time based on projects instead of tasks.
Not only that, but time sheets can be entered in bulk and submitted with variable billing rates. You can track your project, record your time, and invoice your clients all in one app.
Standout feature: Excellent set of features for project-based time tracking
Notable integrations: Basecamp, Insightly, QuickBooks, Trello, Xero
Pricing structure: Avaza is free for a single user, who can work on time sheets, five invoices per month, five active projects, ten customers (guest accounts), and unlimited project collaborators. Businesses can upgrade for $9.95 per month for two users, 20 active projects, and unlimited customers; $19.95 per month for five users and 50 active projects, and $39.95 for ten users and unlimited projects.
It’s worth noting that while other products on this list mimic Trello’s pricing structure—that is, a fixed cost per user per month—Avaza’s number of features scales with its monthly rate. For example, for its most expensive plan ($39.95 per month), the cost basis is really only $3.95 per user per month, making it notably affordable.
Used Avaza? Leave a review!
When I first came across ClickUp, I was floored. Forget being a Trello alternative; it’s a project management tool that actually gets artificial intelligence, without overpromising or underdelivering.
Users love it; it’s exceptionally well priced, with an upgrade cost that is just about half of Trello’s, and the program has an incredibly responsive team at the helm. ClickUp is a product that I’m going to be watching closely over the next few years.
With all that said, ClickUp is still a very new product, just released in 2017.
Of the features it offers that compete directly with Trello, it’s a fairly one-to-one alternative—with some notable improvements. For example, like Trello, users can filter cards and create, tag, thread, and resolve comments. Further, users can write in rich text and view real-time collaboration (not unlike Google Wave, which was too early for its time) and switch between board views.
ClickUp also offers a unique perspective on account permissions. Administrators can toggle permission controls based on project hierarchy—on an organization, team, project, or task level.
ClickUp heavily relies on integrations to fill in remaining features, such as Dropbox for file sharing, Google Calendar for calendar view, and Harvest for time tracking. But for those lacking features, ClickUp has a slew of AI features in beta, including predictive deadlines, resource management, and task level of effort.
Standout feature: Coming artificial intelligence predictive models
Notable integrations: GitHub, Google Apps, Harvest, Slack, TimeDoctor
Pricing structure: Free for one project and 100 MB of storage. Upgrade to $5 per user per month for unlimited storage, projects, apps, custom fields, and workflows.
What user reviews are saying about ClickUp:
Used ClickUp? Leave a review!
5. Kanban Tool
Looking to join the likes of Xerox, Cisco, and Expedia? That is, create a brand making over $5 billion in revenue, employ more than 20,000 people, and act as a representation of the “American Dream?”
Forget whatever else they have in common—all of these Fortune 500 companies rely on Kanban Tool to get stuff done (along with 25,000 other companies, both big and small).
Available both on-premise and online with daily off-site backups, 99% uptime, SSL and HTTPS encryption, and real-time data replication, Kanban Tool is a firmly reliable tool for any company looking for a secure Trello competitor.
But Kanban Tool doesn’t just focus on security; it has advanced reporting features, such as workflow, lead and cycle analysis, time reports, file attachments with image preview, and it shows visual card aging, just as Trello does.
Like other Kanban programs, Kanban Tool was built for collaboration. Users get real-time updates as their team updates cards. They can opt into (or out of) email notifications. And for custom tracking, users can customize their experience with user-created fields, so you can sort through all of your cards the way that works best for your team.
Standout feature: Excellent security and on-premise option
Notable integrations: Box, Bitium, OneDrive, Outlook, truDigital Signage
Pricing structure: Free for two users and two boards. Upgrade to $5 per user per month for unlimited boards and unlimited file attachments, or $9 per user per month for added time tracking and reporting.
What user reviews are saying about Kanban Tool:
Used Kanban Tool? Leave a review!
This project management tool, and Trello alternative, gets high-chill, high-productivity Millennial culture and emphasizes ease of use, accessibility, and a sweet full set of features.
If you’ve got a laid back startup, and you want software that offers more than just project management features, take a good look at Yalla. It comes with customizable customer relationship management (CRM) features and workflow templates.
As for project management, Yalla offers guest accounts for client communication, time tracking, and a built-in communication platform that’s not unlike Slack.
Yalla is also incredibly easy to use. You can drag-and-drop your Kanban cards, along with your Gantt charts, calendar events, and task prioritization. In fact, simplicity is so central to Yalla’s system that it’s eliminated most jargon from both its app and its website, and even has a handy superhero guide to make sure your team’s work gets done on time, on budget, and with quality.
Standout feature: Ease of use; if you can use Slack, you can use Yalla.
Notable integrations: FreshBooks
Pricing structure: Free for three users and three projects, which comes with time keeping, CRM, team calendars, and chat. Upgrade starting at $7 per user per month for unlimited projects, along with premium features such as guest accounts, unlimited file storage, and custom sales funnels.
What user reviews are saying about Yalla:
Used Yalla? Leave a review!
What about the Trello alternatives that didn’t make the cut?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, there are a healthy number of Trello competitors that were eliminated because they didn’t have a free version, didn’t have mobile apps, or didn’t have enough reviews to qualify.
Have you been using Kanban for a while, or are you just getting into it? What do you like about Trello and why are you looking for an alternative? Have you checked out any of the apps reviewed above?
Help your fellow readers out in the comments below!
If you’re interested in learning more about project management and Kanban, you might want to check out:
- 7 of the Top Agile Project Management Software
- 5 Standout Online Kanban Software
- The Top 5 Lean Tools for Six Sigma Enthusiasts
- What is Scrum Methodology? A Beginner’s Primer
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.