4 Productivity Apps for Managing Tasks Online

Improved Workflow through Shared Workspaces, Tasks, and Interactivity

The way we manage work processes and stay organized to accomplish our project goals often stem from individual styles and organizational culture. To help improve workflow, software developers continue to focus on streamlining web-based productivity apps for managing tasks as well as adding functionality for team interactivity around projects, which attracts more users.

Although Basecamp was one of the early developers of native web-based applications to solve task management efficiencies, the field has grown to satisfy the needs of contemporary workspaces for every device and user. Here are five well known productivity apps, although there are many more, with some newcomers, free or commercial grade, for public or private use.

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What We Like

  • Full-featured tool with great visual aesthetic.

  • Generous 30-day trial.

  • Several tiers to right-size a subscription.

What We Don't Like

  • Stuff in higher-priced tiers (like portfolios) belongs at lower levels.

  • Visual Gantt tool over-simplifies in favor of visual appeal.

Asana is the newest productivity app, enabling everyone to assign tasks and work better together as a cohesive team. Free for 30 people with optional add on pricing for private projects and larger groups. The mobile site design formats for any browser, and currently Asana offers an iPhone app. Asana can especially benefit processes with lots of tasks and subtasks. Taking a creative approach in tagging tasks and managing priorities can help you design a unique process for your organization--then duplicate the project.

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What We Like

  • Established, well-known platform.

  • Desktop, mobile, and web apps.

  • Rich API ecosystem.

  • One-cost pricing model is great for medium-sized teams.

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive for one- or two-person teams.

  • Visually cluttered.

  • Occasionally difficult to navigate.

Basecamp popularized project collaboration tools nearly 10 years ago among professionals and since has remained one of the top sought after applications for groups to manage tasks. Although Basecamp's original product called Classic from 37signals provides one free project set up, users have flocked to the new Basecamp. Project workspaces are fluid--it's a continuous timeline visible on a single page to track group tasks, your own productivity, and group interaction. A product trial is offered for 45 days then commercial pricing commences, for the suite of products (includes Highrise and Campfire), based on number of projects, from 10 on up and increasing in storage capacity for unlimited number of users.

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What We Like

  • Robust project management platform.

  • Good pricing matrix relative to what's offered at each tier.

  • Excellent ecosystem of APIs.

What We Don't Like

  • Not much beyond basic project management.

  • Adding free external users requires a base domain name, which may be off-putting to groups that don't use branded email addresses.

Podio, part of Citrix Systems, offers a workspace of apps to choose from. The Podio pre-built app to work on projects enables you to design fields easily that anyone can drag and drop into place. Podio templates give you simple tools to save and change for different projects, for example engineering projects have different criteria than marketing projects. For your entire organization, Podio's intranet app is visible in the workspace to access resources and communicate as an organization. Podio is free for up to 5 seats, but you will want to use the Podio Teams or Business subscriptions priced accordingly, to have access rights and control. 

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What We Like

  • A well-known, well-respected platform for Kanban-style project management.

  • Free tier with rich feature offerings.

What We Don't Like

  • Value-adds (called power-ups) require migration to a paid model after one free power-up.

  • Locks you into an Agile/Kanban mode of project management.

Trello, developed by Fog Creek Software, is an interactive and process minded workspace where you drag task cards up or down and across a slick whiteboard. You can drag and drop member avatars to assigned tasks, and include moved tasks for work in progress. Trello's web-based application is free and plans to remain that way. Smartphone apps for iOS and Android systems are available. Unlike other project collaboration tools, Trello also uses social gaming techniques such as voting and gives visibility to the entire workflow on the board and your team members. In an example from Optify, the B2B demand management software company, they selected Trello to help streamline its product development process and reduce wasteful steps.