Screen grab of the Trello logo.Trello is an online content organization tool that allows you to organize information similar to the way you would a physical whiteboard.

It has boards and cards on the boards that can be dragged between boards. Think having a whiteboard divided into sections with post it notes for tasks, then moving those to the appropriate section as completed.

Trello is one of the tools I use to layout and track progress when creating my online courses.

This video was part of a lesson from a class delivered in October 2015.

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Getting Started with Trello

Getting started with Trello is a easy as creating your account, logging in, creating a board or two and adding cards to the boards. While there are additional features you can incorporate into the use of your boards like teams, archival or items, and the ability to email cards onto your board, it’s one of the easiest software options to start and use successfully.

The content areas are broken into Boards which are the top level. Lists which are created and contained within the boards. Cards which are created and contained within lists. These can be moved between lists. Cards can have checklists, comments, and due dates assigned.

Create a Trello Board

When you login to Trello, you’ll see the boards you have open. To create a new board, click on the Create a Board block at the end of your boards – see green arrow.

Screen grab of the listing of boards when you login to your Trello account.

Screen grab of the Trello Create Board Dialog BoxThis opens the Create Board dialog box.

  1. Enter the Title for your board.
  2. Add a Team, if applicable. For my purpose, I do not use a team on the board I created.
  3. Select if the board will be Private or Public. Private is the default. If you set it to Public, anyone with a Trello account will be able to view the board.
  4. Click on the Create button to create the board.

Your board will now appear in that board listing on your main page.

Adding Lists to Your Trello Board

Within the board, you may set lists. In the whiteboard analogy, these would be the columns you set to place your sticky notes (cards).

As soon as you create your board, an initial list will appear. Enter the name of the list and press the Save button. Each time you save a list, it will open an area for another list. When you are through adding lists, you will start adding and configuring cards. At that point, the new list (shown on the right) will disappear and be replaced with an Add List link.

Screen grab of the Lists on a Trello Card.

Using Trello Cards

Within the list you have created, note the Add Card link (see above). Click on this to add your card. Enter the name of the card and click the Add button to add the card.

You may leave the card, as is, or open the card by clicking on the title in order to add more information.

Screen grab of a Trello card with a checklist in process

On your Trello card, you can add Labels for organization. Checklists to track tasks, and Due Dates among other options. When creating cards to track the development of my online courses, I use the Checklist and Due Date features heavily. I am currently placing my files and other items in separate directories, so not using the Attachment feature.

Note that on your checklist, as you check off tasks, your progress is tracked.

Once you have created your board, lists, and cards, you can easily track your progress, move items between lists, and complete your courses with the help of this visual organizer.

Screen grab of a Trello board with lists and cards

Limitations of Trello

As with every piece of software I’ve used, there are limitations to Trello. The two that stand out to me the most are the inability to delete boards and the fact that it requires a premium membership to export to CSV. Even with these, I have found it a valuable tool.

No Way to Delete a Board

The main drawback I find with Trello is that you can’t completely delete a board. You can delete the cards within the board and you can close a board so that it isn’t visible, but it cannot be completely deleted from the system. This seems irritating at best and a security issue at worst. As with any online platform, don’t put super sensitive information like usernames and passwords into Trello.

Limitations of deleting a board, and how to delete the cards and hide the board.

CSV Export Requires Premium Package

With the free account, you can print information and export it in a JSON format. The JSON format is helpful if you are integrating the information into another software application configured to import JSON. In order to export to a CSV format so that you can import into Microsoft Excel and other desktop applications, you will need to upgrade your account to the Business Class plan. This plan runs $8.33 per month, per user, billed annually.

Ready to Create Your Trello Account?

If you would like to try a graphical task organizer, similar to a whiteboard, then give Trello a try. If you use it, let me know what you like about it in the comments.

Sign up for your free account, here