How I Organize My Trello Design Board to Keep Track of Tasks and Provide Transparency
Staying organized is a difficult task. Heck, keeping tracking of projects is a project in itself. As designer at Spreedly I have so many things happening at one time I needed to find a way to keep track of everything design related and provide a layer of transparency for the other members in the company.
Trello is a tool we already use to organize a lot of our projects and big picture tasks so it made sense to adopt the platform and start using it for design as well. Having used Trello on my own for personal projects I felt comfortable with this decision and took the plunge into creating a design board. The board has slowly evolved over time … and I’m sure it will evolve some more but for now I think I’ve found a pretty solid setup that seems to work well.
I’ve broken down my design board into commonsensical lists that kind of resemble a production line. By creating lists I am able to move the cards from one to another which in turn reflects the status of the card.
How I Use Trello
The most important goal for me in using Trello was to stay organized and keep track of everything I am working on and stay on top of any new projects that might pop up. Working in the start up world things can get really hectic so a good sense of organization is important.
The second goal that I needed to accomplish was transparency. I figured that by having a well organized board I could share with the other team members so they could keep up with whatever was going. I found the best way to do this was to add members to cards and integrate third-party apps like Google Drive, Github, and Slack.
My strategy in staying organized are the lists on my board. I keep the board simple and chose words that made sense as well as reflect the state of the cards.
My current set of lists are:
- Inbox - The Inbox is where I put any and all new requests. Or where others make new requests. These are all the tasks and or projects that need to be done.
- Backlog - The Backlog is the list where things go if I am getting backed up or if the project doesn’t need to be done right away.
- Blocked - The Blocked list is exactly that. Something is keeping me from moving forward with the project. Everything in this list must find a resolution.
- On-Hold - On-Hold is were projects go when I need a break from them or if something is forcing me to take a break from them.
- Next-Up - Next-Up is literally the next projects I will be working on.
- In Progress - Any project that I am currently working on will go in the In Progress list.
- In Development - In Development is a list for any projects that I need to write code for letting others know I’ve moved from the design phase and am now building.
- Review - Projects get moved to Review when I have completed previous tasks and I need to review what was done and decide where the they go from there.
- Completed - After a card has moved through the lists it ends up in Completed. This is to show that the task or project has been finished.
- Archived - Archived is for all the projects that are absolutely finished. Cards get moved here for quick reference in case they need to be opened again. But essentially once they are in the archive they are done.
The reason why I created my board in this order was to develop a natural flow, keep it easy to use and understand, and so I could keep track of things that needed immediate attention.
For example, the Inbox, Backlog, Blocked, On-Hold, and Next-Up, are all cards that could slip through the cracks and be forgotten. So by keeping them towards the front of the list I have to scroll past them every time I look at my board.
Also I felt it made sense to have a list named Completed and one named Archive. Sometimes projects get moved to Completed and have to bounce back to other lists on the board. Sometimes cards make it to Archived and need to be re-opened or referenced.
I set the board up this way to keep things neat, track the most recent projects or tasks being completed, and have a place to look back and see what was done.
Full disclosure, Apps are only for Trello business subscribers.
So in a team setting this makes sense and is worth the extra couple of bucks for the year. In my opinion anyway. But because I work in a team setting and we have a Trello business subscription I use integrated apps or Power-Ups as Trello calls them.
Because there is a lot of collaboration in the environment I currently work in, there are other cloud based apps or tools we use. Our team like many others communicates predominately on Slack. Some of us work in Google Drive and others prefer Dropbox. While we all most certainly use Github. Each of these tools can be hooked into a Trello board and attached to a card.
So for example in Slack I have a channel called #design. Every now and then when its relevant I will push a card to the design channel where others can join if they want or simply click the link and get clued in to what is going on. Pretty easy way of sharing.
Before I begin doing any design work I need to do design research. Being a fan of Google and the tools that come with Google Drive I work in there a lot for things like writing docs, creating spreadsheets, and even simple diagrams to share and get inline feedback.
Typically I organize this information in folders in my Google Drive. Well, the great thing about that is with Power-Ups you can hook a Google Drive folder or even just a document right into the Trello card. No more having to email links and remind people of where stuff is located. It’s all right in the card. Same goes for Dropbox.
Even for Github. I can link to repos and issues no problem. Making it easy to attach all the supplementary material related to projects and tasks.
Sharing is Caring
Since a lot of design related tasks happen in the background and cannot be entirely measured by deploy’s to Github or analytics in Mixpanel it’s important for me to let others know what I am doing.
By keeping an organized and easy to understand board coupled with the integration of apps we commonly use I am able to create a level of transparency for others that keeps them informed of tasks and projects. As well as allow them to feel like part of the process.
It’s really easy to get overwhelmed with getting organized and keeping track of tasks and projects. Trust me I know. Getting to this point took some time and a little experimentation but now I’ve been able to find a way that works best for me and helps me stay on top of things while sharing with others.
If you’re lost, stuck, or just need a little push give my method a shot. See how it works for you and iterate on the process. If you find that you need more lists or less lists, maybe even need to change the names of some go for it. I’ve been able to take this basic principle and apply it to other boards like articles I want to write or even personal projects at home. At the end of the day its all about getting organized!
I hope this article helps those that don’t know where to start when using Trello or are looking for a way to set up their own boards for projects and what not.
If you’re already using Trello for you project management I would love to hear about how you set your boards up.