How to use Trello (project management software) – Tutorial

Introduction

Hi everyone, today we’re going to tell you what Trello is and how to use it. Trello is basically a freemium project management software. It has versions for desktop computers, Android devices, and also for Apple devices. Whether you’re going to manage a business project, or build a website for an official purpose or even organize an upcoming event like a wedding or an office vacation, Trello can help you plan and organize everything in a systematic way. We’re going to present this tutorial on a desktop computer. If you properly follow this and thus grasp a handy knowledge of the software, you’ll be able to use it on mobile devices as well. 

 

First things first: Sign up for Trello

In order to use the software, you have to create an account on Trello. Go to their official website www.trello.com and click on the ‘Sign Up’ button. You can sign up with your Google, Microsoft, Apple, or even your Slack account. 

Trello signup page
Trello signup options

I’m simply going to type in my email address and hit continue. By doing this I’ll be creating an Atlassian account which I will use for multiple project management software like Trello, Jira, Confluence, and more.

Trello Sign up with email address (Atlassian account)
Sign up with email address (Atlassian account)

Then you have to enter your full name and click on the ‘Sign up’ button. They may check to see if you are a robot or a human. 

image captcha
Verifying to see if you’re a human or a bot

After signing up, you’ll have to confirm your email address within the next 14 days. 

Verifying email and activating Atlassian account
Verifying email and activating Atlassian account

While confirming that you’ll be creating a password for your account. 

Creating a password for Atlassian account
Creating a password for an Atlassian account

Naming your first Workspace and sending invitations

Once you have successfully created your Trello account, next you’ll have to name your first ‘Workspace’. At this point, there might be a question as to what a Workspace is.

Simply put, workspaces are your teams (including you), by whom you get your jobs and other social activities done. Pretend that I am the general manager in a book publishing company. I have a group of people working in the research and development team. Now if I have to supervise them all as a team leader and get the projects done by them, they, their activities and I combinedly make a Workspace. I can term this Workspace ‘Research & Development’. Now there is also a marketing team in the company. If I have to supervise them as well, I’ll create another Workspace for them, namely ‘Marketing’.

Naming a Workspace and sending invitations on Trello
Naming a Workspace and sending invitations on Trello

After naming a Workspace, I’ll have to send invitations to my team members to join it. I’ll be typing their email addresses (or their usernames if they already have Trello accounts) and hit the ‘Enter’ key each time (in case of copy-pasting no need to hit ‘Enter’). After entering all the email IDs I need to hit the ‘Continue’ button. We’re going to skip the Free trial. Tell your team members to acknowledge (accept) the invitations you just sent.

After completing all the preliminaries, you’ll land on your Trello’s main dashboard area which is as follows.

Trello main dashboard
Trello main dashboard

If you need to create additional Workspaces or simply a new board, follow the instructions depicted in the image below.

Creating another Workspace on Trello
Creating additional Workspaces and boards on Trello

Uploading a profile picture on Trello

You may not be content with a profile avatar or your current profile photo. So you may want to upload a profile image on Trello. Well, you’ll have to do that through your ‘Atlassian’ account. While you’re Trello, you have to click on your profile icon situated in the upper right corner, a popup menu will show. There you’ll have to click on the ‘Profile and Visibility’ link. You’ll arrive on the corresponding page.

On that page will be a section named ‘Manage your personal information’. In that section, you’ll see a link named ‘Atlassian Profile’ which you need to click. You’ll be taken to your Atlassian profile.

Setting a profile photo in Trello
Setting a profile photo in Trello

Your profile photo that you’ve uploaded here will be reflected in a number of places, like Trello, Jira, Confluence etc. This is how you set and change your profile image on Trello.

Accepting an invitation to join a Workspace

When your colleagues, coworkers, or collaborators will receive and open the invitation emails, those will look like the following:

1st step of accepting an invitation to join a Trello Workspace
1st step of accepting an invitation to join a Trello Workspace

Upon clicking on the ‘Join the Workspace’ button in the email, the following interface will show up:

2nd step of accepting an invitation to join a Trello Workspace
2nd step of accepting an invitation to join a Trello Workspace

When the invitee clicks on the ‘Join Workspace’ button, s/he will be taken to the Trello signup wizard. Once they’ve completed their sign-ups, they will be logged in to Trello and on the Workspace dashboard. There they’ll see all the created boards under that Workspace. If they click on a board, they’ll be taken to the board’s dashboard. Here they can manually join the board by clicking on the ‘Join board’ button.

Manually joining a Trello board
Manually joining a Trello board

Creating a Trello board

Now that you’ve created a Workspace, the second step is to create a board. As the ‘caretaker’ of a Workspace, you may need to get a few jobs done. I, as the head of R&D of a publications company, may need to get a Physics book and a Maths book published in the upcoming few days. Now the ‘Physics book’ is a project and the ‘Maths book’ is another project. For every new project of mine, I’ll be creating a board in my Trello Workspace.

As for the ‘Physics book’, I’m now going to create a new board with the same name under the Workspace ‘Research & Development’. I have created another Workspace by the name of ‘Marketing’ which I have to take care of as well. 

1st step of creating a new board on Trello
1st step of creating a new board on Trello
2nd step of creating a new board on Trello
2nd step of creating a new board on Trello

Now, this is what you have created:

Dashboard of a Trello board
Dashboard of a Trello board

Workspace members can join a board by simply clicking on the ‘Join Board’ button found on their Workspace dashboard. Another notable thing is that on the free version of Trello everyone who has joined a Workspace has the same role (of admin). In the premium (trial) version, roles can be changed.

Everyone has the same role on a Workspace on Trello Free version
Everyone has the same role on a Workspace on Trello Free version

However, on the ‘Board’ level roles can be assigned even on the free version.

Roles on board can be assigned to on Trello free version
Roles on board can be assigned to on Trello free version

Creating lists and cards

After creating a board, it’s time to create a few lists. Lists are actually statuses or stages of tasks. They represent workflow. When a list includes a few tasks, it means that those tasks are under the same status or stage. The keywords marked in yellow boxes in the above image represent three default lists created when a board is created on a Trello Workspace.

Each of the tasks is called a card. A card can be transferred from one list to another, adjacent or not; depending upon the progress or update of the overall work.

As you can see in the above image, three lists have already been created for me by default. These are ‘To do’, ‘Doing’, and ‘Done’ lists. I want to add another list by the name of ‘Planning’.

Creating a card on Trello
Creating a card on Trello

I’m going to do that by clicking on the button named ‘Add another list’ and enclosed by a green box in the image captioned ‘Dashboard of a Trello board’. I’m dragging this new list to the leftmost area, I mean in the beginning. Now I’m going to add two cards to this list. One is ‘Collecting book info’ and the other is ‘Hiring Writers and Editors’.

Two cards have been added on a Trello board
Two cards have been added on a Trello board

Like I said earlier, a card is more like a task in Trello, the project management software. I want to add a few cards to the ‘To do’ list, they are ‘Write contents’, ‘Type/compose the contents’, ‘Proofread the contents’, ‘Edit the contents’, and ‘Final read the contents’.

Full and empty lists on a Trello board
A few lists may have cards in them while other lists may be empty

Card options

Now in order to add certain features or aspects to a card, simply click on it, a popup window will show. Here you can rename the card and add a description of the card, as to what it is about. You can comment on the card. You can also add members to this particular task that a card represents (members will get notified about this on their emails and within Trello). In addition, you can add ‘Labels’, ‘Checklist’, ‘Dates’, ‘Attachment’, ‘Location’ etc. The ‘Dates’ will indicate the ‘due date’ within which the task is supposed to be completed. Anyway, I’m going to add two members to the card ‘Write contents’ and then simply close it. The same way I can add as many members as I like to any card.

A lot of options for cards on Trello
There are a lot of options for cards on Trello

The above image shows the popup window we’re talking about. Here only half of it has been displayed. The other half is as follows:

Lower part of card popup menu on Trello
Lower part of card popup menu

Once my ‘Physics book’ team members are done ‘Collecting book info’ and ‘Hire Writers and Editors’ for the project, we’re going to shift these cards/tasks to the rightmost list ‘Done’.

Tasks upon completion will appear under the rightmost list on Trello
Tasks upon completion will appear under the rightmost list

Likewise with progress, we’re going to transfer or advance the other cards one by one from one list to the adjacent list or simply advance a few lists at a time. In each list we can drag and drop cards and rearrange the order they appear in.

Labels and their roles in Trello

Now we’re going to talk about ‘Labels’. These things can be used to categorize cards/tasks. For example, tasks can be of three types: ‘Very urgent’, ‘Moderately urgent’ and ‘Not so urgent’. So we can use three labels to have three categories of tasks. Labels are of different colors and you can write sample text on them, to let you remind what a particular label is about.

Labels and their roles on Trello
Labels and their roles on Trello

We can use labels in various ways. Let’s assume that we have two categories of tasks: those supervised by Steven and some others supervised by John. We use blue for John and purple for Steven. So by using these labels, we can now clearly distinguish between these two types of tasks. Note that the task ‘Final read the contents’ is supervised by both John and Steven.

Demonstration of use of Labels on Trello
Demonstration of use of Trello Labels

Adding cards, lists and people on a Trello board

As you can see in the above image, you can add a card by clicking anywhere on the buttons enclosed by red boxes, you can add another list by clicking the button enclosed by a green box and even add people by clicking the button enclosed by a yellow box. You have to type in their email addresses or Trello names and also their roles. If they are added as ‘board members’, they can edit, comment, and invite people to this board. If added as observers, they can only view and comment on this board.

Visibility of a Trello board

Now about the privacy or visibility of a Trello board. By default, the visibility is ‘Workspace visible’. This means all members of the Workspace can see and edit the board under discussion, even if they’re not particularly added to this board. If ‘private’ is selected, only board members and the Workspace admins can see and edit the board. If visibility is ‘public’, anyone on the internet can see the board, but only board members get to edit the board. There is a fourth type of visibility by name of ‘organization’, which is not relevant here. So we’re not going to discuss that.

Visibility demonstration on Trello
Visibility demonstration on Trello

‘Boards’ buttons and ‘Board’ dropdown menu

When you log in to Trello, you land a page. Here you’ll see two buttons named ‘Boards’, as indicated in the image below.

Login landing page of Trello
Login landing page of Trello

As demonstrated in the above image, upon clicking on the upper ‘Boards’ button you’ll see all boards under all Workspaces. But by clicking on the lower ‘Boards’ button, you’ll see the boards under the current Workspace. So if you want to switch from one board to another or even one Workspace to another, this is the right place to do that.

Now about the ‘Board’ dropdown menu, you’ll find this on every board page. 

Board dropdown menu on Trello
Board dropdown menu on Trello

A few specialized views

As shown in the image above, five specialized views are available on this menu. However, you’ll have to start the ‘14 day free trial’ to avail any of these views.

For example, if you click on ‘Map’, you’ll see which card is assigned where. Let’s assume that the cards ‘Write the contents’, ‘Edit the contents’ and ‘Final read the contents’ are assigned to locations ‘San Francisco’, ‘Los Angeles’ and ‘Fresno’ respectively. Let’s assign these locations first and then go to the map. In order to assign a location, click anywhere on the particular card.

Assigning a location to a Trello card
Assigning a location to a Trello card

After assigning the three locations to the three cards, let’s now watch the ‘Map’ view.

Map view of cards on Trello
Map view of cards on Trello

As for the timeline we have to set the due dates first. Let’s do that for the above mentioned three cards. In order to assign a date to any card we have to click on the ‘Dates’ button shown enclosed by a yellow box in the image captioned ‘Assigning a location to a Trello card’. For the first card, this is what we got to see after clicking the ‘Dates’ button:

Assigning due date to a Trello card
Assigning due date to a Trello card

After having assigned due dates for the three cards, the overall ‘Timeline’ view is as follows:

Timeline view on Trello cards
Timeline view on Trello cards

Now let’s visit the dashboard option. Here you’ll see comparisons. 

Dashboard view of Trello cards
Dashboard view of Trello cards

The last option is ‘Open workspace table’. If we click on that we’ll see a comparison table, so as to the cards, which lists they’re under, labels of cards, people who’re assigned to cards, and also due dates.

Workspace table view for Trello
Workspace table view for Trello

Here you can even switch between tabs ‘Workspace table’, ‘Boards’, ‘Members’ etc.

Changing the background color of a board

Getting to a board's dashboard
Getting to a board’s dashboard

(while ‘Boards’ selected) Now this Board ‘Physics book’ looks pretty boring, I want to change its background color. How do you do it? Well, first click on the board to go to its particular details page (AKA dashboard). Click on the ‘Show Menu’ in the upper right corner and then click on ‘Change background’. There you have it! It is as simple as that.

Changing background color of a Trello board
Changing background color of a Trello board

‘About this board’ section

Now that you’re introduced with the ‘Show menu’ as mentioned above, let’s visit a section of it named ‘About this board’. You can find this at the top of the menu. Upon clicking on the link, you’ll see the following:

About the board section on Trello
About the board section on Trello

Adding checklists and assigning people to a card

Now that we’ve covered the majority of Trello features as a project management software, let’s go through some accessories and details that we deem necessary. First, checklists. In order to set a checklist for a card, click on it and then click on the ‘checklist’ option from the sidebar (refer to the image captioned ‘There are a lot of options for cards on Trello’). 

Now name the checklist and then set elements on the checklist. 

Adding a checklist to a Trello card
Adding a checklist to a Trello card

Once finished entering, simply close the window. To see whether the checklist has really been added, click on the card once again and see for yourself.

A checklist has been added on a Trello card
A checklist has been added on a Trello card

Now let’s see how easily we can assign people to certain cards. Well, we can do that simply by dragging their avatars and dropping them on the desired cards. 

Assigning a person to a card
Assigning a person to a card on Trello

Getting Notifications

There are two other facts we’re going to mention about cards. If you want to get notifications about a special card or a few cards you need to subscribe to them. You can do that by clicking on the card and then checking the ‘Watch’ button. You can see this button, more appropriately a checkbox in one of the above images captioned ‘A checklist has been added’. You can also comment on any card. A comment box has been shown in a yellow box in the same image. If you mention someone in the comment using the @ sign, they’ll be notified.

Speaking of notifications, now you might be wondering as to where to go to get general notifications (all notifications piled up one after another). No matter which page of Trello you’re on you’ll see a bell icon in the upper-right corner (below the address bar) of the browser or app. Upon clicking on this icon you’ll see all notifications on Trello, regardless of their origin and type.

Last but not least, let us talk about how frequently you should receive notifications on Trello. In order to see the default setting in this regard, click to your profile icon/avatar and then click on settings.

Profile menu on Trello
Profile menu on Trello
Frequency of notifications on Trello
Frequency of notifications on Trello

If ‘Instantly’ is chosen, switch to ‘Periodically’. That way you won’t lose any notifications. You’ll get all the notifications on a bundle, in a summary format. This will save your time and annoy you much less.

Deleting boards and Workspaces

In this video tutorial, we haven’t talked about templates, because we believe that once you know how to create a board and customize it, you’ll be able to use any of those templates as well. Now let’s see how to delete a board or even a workspace. To do that you have to be the owner of the workspace.

Deleting a Trello board
Deleting a Trello board

To delete a board that is still open, first open your board menu and choose ‘More’. Next, choose the option ‘Close board…’ near the bottom of the More menu. These processes have been depicted in the above image. As you can see on the 3rd portion of the image, you can find and reopen closed boards at the bottom of your boards page. After successfully closing a board you’ll get confirmation.

Reopen or permanently delete a board
Reopen or permanently delete a board

Now you have actually three options: reopen the board or permanently delete it or simply move on without choosing any of these options.

In order to delete a workspace, you have to go it’s billings and cancel the premium if there’s any.

Canceling premium subscription on Trello
Canceling premium subscription on Trello

Now go to settings and click on the ‘Delete this workspace’ link.

Deleting a Workspace on Trello
Deleting a Workspace on Trello

If you’re not the owner of the Workspace, you can still leave it in the ‘members’ tab.

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