Joel Spolsky knows good software. His blog, Joel on Software, is one of the most prolific blogs about software on the web. He is the co-founder of Stack Exchange, and his other company Fog Creek Software is one of the most respected in the business. This week, his company announced that its newest product, Trello, which launched in September 2011, just reached 500,000 registered users.
What makes Trello different from other online collaboration tools is that it brings the agile software development process to the masses. The app allows users to organize cards and boards into classic agile sprints to become relevant for any project, including non-software projects.
In January, Spolsky noted that Trello is also a departure not only from competitors, but also from Fog Creek’s previous products: “Once you get into Trello, you’ll use it for everything. I use about thirty Trello boards regularly, and I use them with everyone in my life, from the APs (Aged Parents), with whom I plan vacations, with every team at work, and just about every project I’m involved in.”
Trello works on any device, and the app instantly updates in real-time. Although some project management tools like the new Basecamp from 37signals also allows you to get real-time updates as well, Trello’s updates are subtle enough to alert users without disrupting workflow.
Another key feature that makes this tool perfect for distributed work teams is that Trello allows users to embed video, add images, and upload documents. This enables users to communicate a story about each task in our increasingly media-rich world. Let’s say a user like Spolsky is planning a vacation, as he noted on his blog. Instead of posting a list of links to possible vacation destinations on a card, he’s able to embed videos of different beaches so that his family can choose which beach they like the best. That’s why Trello is so valuable. It condenses everything that a user could want out on the web, on social media, and in email as part of project collaboration into an easy to manage task system.
Spolsky professes that he wants 100 million users on Trello. With the spot on user experience, it’s only a matter of time before the 500,000 user accounts balloon to millions.