Big changes at Trello

By Simon Ensor
Web Design 13.01.2017

At Yellowball we are avid users of both Trello and Atlassian’s JIRA to plan, track and collaborate on design projects, content marketing and much more. We have loved spreading the word about these systems, helping many of our clients make the transition to these cloud based project management platforms. It is therefore big news for us, and many marketing and design agencies globally, that Atlassian have announced their acquisition of Trello this week. Reportedly paying $360 million in cash with shares and options bringing the total to a hefty $425 million, this is Atlassian’s largest acquisition and one would imagine a pretty nice windfall for those involved at Trello!
At the beginning of the year we predicted that Pocket would be acquired but the sale of Trello certainly comes as no surprise. At only 5 years old they have  grown their userbase to 19 million through Trello’s ability to permeate almost anyone’s lives. It is not just marketing agencies that utilise the system; you could be refitting your kitchen or simply using it to organise a daily ‘to do’ list. Simplistic and easy to use via its intuitive Kanban board design, this sale does raise some interesting questions as to how Trello will change as it joins Atlassian, a company that went public in late 2015.

Note that both parties have stated that Trello will remain as a standalone product which is encouraging, especially with inevitable integrations à la Instagram and Facebook. Media outlets such as TechCrunch have already commented on the fact that they share common goals, such as reaching 100 million active monthly users, but as users of both systems we do foresee some prospective big wins. There will be potential pitfalls too but hopefully the collective minds at Trello and Atlassian will sidestep these.


Trello will become more powerful

Trello will now have access to increased funding, development teams and 13 years of experience via Atlassian. The obvious benefit of this is bigger better upgrades that occur more often, producing Trello boards that are customisable past the current array of ‘power-ups’. We are particularly excited about the prospect of this. Trello is great but you do get the feeling that as they have a product that works, they have been operating on an ‘if it ain’t broke’ ethos. Whilst this is not strictly true (and probably somewhat unfair) we would love to see Trello upgrade their functionality to provide a more powerful platform. Or in Trello’s words: “even more awesome and more fun”.

Atlassian’s experience developing JIRA into the leading AGILE project management system globally will no doubt aid this increase in tools available to Trello users.


JIRA will become more user friendly

Compared to Trello, Atlassian’s JIRA appears to sacrifice aesthetics for functionality. It is widely used by the developer community to manage Agile web projects but has struggled to appeal to other markets, with aesthetics being the primary reason for this lack of diversity. JIRA could do with taking a leaf out of Trello’s book – they both use the same Kanban style board where the drag and drop functionality allows the organisation of tasks into columns, enabling users to have an overview of project statuses. However JIRA’s design is, well, less than inspiring. Issues like an easier to use and more effective search function for JIRA can be swiftly borrowed from Trello, which will contribute to its improved user experience. Whether this helps JIRA diversify its user base is unknown; regardless, a more attractive platform can only be a good thing!


Will Atlassian influence Trello too much?

For those who have used both systems, I am sure you agree that Trello is nicer to use. The overall User Experience is superior and the User Interface more intuitive. The worry is that over the years, Trello ceases to be a standalone product and merges into the Atlassian group of products, taking on what is, in our opinion, a less pleasing aesthetic and usability. It is interesting that in their blog post announcing the news, Atlassian defines it as them ‘acquiring Trello’ whereas Trello say that they have ‘partnered’ with Atlassian. Although we hope that we are just splitting hairs here with an over-analysis of language and messaging.

The first step will be Trello becoming an Atlassian product, much like the majority of IBM’s acquisitions adopting ‘powered by IBM’, but who knows how far this will go…


Web Designers and Developers will finally get along (maybe)

This may seem like a colossal sweeping statement but web designers and web developers are a breed apart. Trust us, they are. They can work together to create amazing websites but the design community as a whole have different methods to the development community. As a polarised metaphor they are Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Moneyball*. They both think they are steering the ship and in charge. They are on the same team and work towards the same goal, but rest assured there will be conflicts of opinion.

The potential for integration between Trello and JIRA could help build bridges between these two communities through the tools that they use, aiding collaboration and project management for the good of all!

*apologies to any designers or developers unduly offended!


In the end, a positive acquisition

When companies are bought and sold there is always the potential for things to go a little bit awry. On this occasion it appears to be a good partnership, or acquisition. Definitely an acquisition.

From a user perspective Trello needed a boost to their development which Atlassian can offer. On the other hand, Atlassian expand their portfolio of products and remove a potential threat from the market.

Regardless of Atlassian’s potentially negative influence on Trello’s usability (unlikely) it is an exciting prospect. We are particularly looking forward to how the two systems link up and transfer data in order to provide a seamless project management system that spans the divides between designer and developer.

Let’s work together

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