For medium + large teams looking for a task-based project management tool, where goals and reporting are important.
Our Unfiltered Thoughts
Asana is tried and true. We used it for 7 years before switching to Motion. Now, that's not because it's bad. Asana is fantastic... If you invest the time and resources to set it up well.
Asana has gone the approach of being less opinionated, allowing for team members to build it out specifically how they'd like. But with that, comes a super general task management tool, that your team isn't likely to adopt (without training) without first undergoing a steep learning curve.
It's a useful project management software for all types of businesses, from professional services to creative teams to development teams.
One important thing to note is that Asana is a publicly traded company, and when you get to that status, getting huge enterprise accounts (1,000+ seats) is the #1 focus. With that, comes enterprise features—so the updates you're likely to see coming to Asana aren't going to be geared toward the small business or startup segment.
Asana does offer a free tier for small teams just starting out with project planning and if we had to award a winner for the best free project management tool, it'd go to Asana. That said, their automated workflows (which we relied upon heavily when using Asana) are a part of their paid plans so we'd say to get the most out of Asana, upgrading would likely lead to more success with the tool.
Features & Differentiation
Asana is exactly what a comes to mind when you envision a traditional project manager tool. It has traditional lists view, tasks view, custom fields, kanban boards, calendar (which isn't even worthy of the name when you compare Asana vs Motion), files, and timeline views. It even has robust project management features like gantt charts, advanced reporting features.
And, well, there's nothing wrong with that at all 🤷 it's just there's nothing they are really doing that makes it particularly better than competitors to that end.
With Asana, you get stability, a solid API, basic reporting, and a task manager tool that you can trust.
Because of this, we're giving Asana a higher rating here for key features (they have a lot of them), but pulling them down a bit for differentiation. Don't let this rating fool you though, we particularly like that Asana isn't trying to differentiate, because it's making them better at the project management software category. When you compare Asana vs ClickUp or Asana vs Monday, you'll see that the other two differentiate more, but in our opinion, this is in a bad way. We applaud Asana for not trying to turn into the "all-in-one everything tool".
There's really nothing exciting to show someone about what Asana can do better than competitors. It has some cool workflow automation built in, and some interesting workload custom dashboard reports (which attempt to show how busy the team is based on the tasks they have assigned), but even that doesn't take into account meetings or anything of the sort, so it's just limited in even what it is trying to accomplish.
User Interface (UI)
This is definitely a bit more subjective—some people love the look of Monday vs Asana, but when you actually rope in the UX of Asana, the myriad of the two together makes it feel slick and purposeful.
User Experience (UX)
Asana has put a lot of thought into animations and the fluidity of their user experience. They have invested quite heavily into keyboard shortcuts, nice animations when clicking into tasks, and great visual state changes when dragging tasks between different stages.
They have natural keyboard shortcuts, and options like "hold down ⌘ + click to select multiple tasks at a time"—super intuitive:
The main difficulty with Asana comes from from how much manual work is required to actually stay atop of the work you're trying to get done. Unlike a tool like Motion, where you just throw in your tasks and AI intelligently auto-schedules them, even if you don't get to them for the day, Asana requires that you continually push back due dates manually in order to not fall too far behind or get too overwhelmed with your work.
While we appreciate the notification toasts that show when taking action (to undo and to alert you of workflow automations that trigger), we do at times feel a bit overwhelmed by them in the interface, as they quickly begin covering things up. With bulk edits especially, you have almost a never-ending train of toasts that continually pop-up covering up the interface:
Asana has an iOS and Android app that has wide range of the functionality from the web app. You can view your Asana projects and task lists as kanban boards on mobile, a feature we don't see as often due to phone real estate—that said, they've implemented it well.
They have widget functionality, so you can see your open task lists without even opening up the app, a small feature which we quite appreciate.
The thing is, with a tool like Asana, you will still need a calendar tool as Asana's calendar view is nowhere where it needs to be to replace Google Calendar, unlike that of Motion.
API & Integrations
Asana has one of the most robust and well-thought APIs of all the project manager tools on the market. This is in terms of functionality, stability, and even down to the thought that went into the naming of variables.
Their team communicates major changes proactively, and there's an external ecosystem of people building 3rd party tools with Asana's API, like backup systems, extended workflow systems, etc.
Overall, it's the gold standard in the category which is why we're giving it an "A" rating. They also have many native integrations that allow you to trigger messages in tools like Slack upon taking action within Asana. That said, you'll want to go custom if you want to do anything more powerful than that.
They've had a lot of time to get the API side of things right—having seen them re-architect core components of it over the years really shows that they've thought through it at scale which is a big plus.
We genuinely prefer Asana to that of ClickUp (trying to turn more and more into an all-in-one tool like Notion—no bueno) and Monday. Oh, and don't be trying to use Airtable as a task/project manager—please.
Think of Asana like Salesforce or Hubspot—they work great, if you invest the tens of thousands into getting it built out for your specific company needs. Highly recommend against trying to set it up yourself 😅
If you're a small or medium size team looking for more of a project manager that's a bit more opinionated (makes adoption way easier), that also bakes in time blocking and your calendar at the core, check out Motion instead.
Asana is an incredibly well oiled product. The API has evolved a lot over the years and everything is quite stable. It just hasn't evolved to take advantage of the time management/calendar space, which feels like a big miss for any project manager.
That said, we've just finally finished migrating off Asana over to Motion (after 7 years of Asana), which should tell you something, specifically if you are a small team (less than 100–200 employees).
As a free project management software (for small teams), it might be alluring to try, but to unlock key features like workflow automation you'd need to be on a paid tier, so we don't fall into the trap of comparing Asana as a free project management software to other paid tools.
There is currently no promo code for this app but we are close partners, so if you use the link above to visit the site and then let their team know that Efficient App sent you, you may just get a little something... extra 😉
There is currently no promo code for this app—we'll update it here if that changes in the future!
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