Trello: A Free Online Collaboration Tool Suitable for Event Planning

By Mitra Sorrells January 23, 2012, 10:48 AM EST

For its event at the Sundance Film Festival, Sincerely created a Trello board with eight lists to track activities in areas such as research, marketing, and design.

Image: Courtesy of Sincerely

When Bing hired photo app company Sincerely to offer free Postagram photos to attendees of the Sundance Film Festival (which kicked off last week), Sincerely turned to Trello to organize the event. Trello is a free, online collaboration tool ideal for event planning and unveiled by Fog Creek Software at TechCrunch Disrupt last fall.

The Web-based application is a visual system that organizes ongoing projects into boards—the virtual equivalent of Post-It notes. A board can include multiple to-do lists, each one with cards that represent individual tasks or ideas. These cards can be moved around the board with a click-and-drag motion—for example, moving a card up or down to change its priority or from one list to another. Clicking on a card takes the user to a screen where more information can be added (like writing on the back of a Post-It), such as a description, conversations, file attachments, links, and checklists.

The platform works in real time, so updates appear instantly to all users without a browser refresh. In one glance, Trello shows what is being worked on, who is working on what, and where something is in a process. 

David Hua, head of platform for Sincerely, is leading the event at Sundance, where he will have a team of about a dozen people taking photos of festival attendees that will then be sent to them as a Postagram postcard sponsored by Bing. (Sincerely makes Postagram and other photo apps.) Hua began using Trello in December to organize various aspects of the project.  

“We created a Trello board with different lists,“ he said. “We had ones for travel and lodging, equipment and gear, marketing, props, social messaging. The best thing I love about it is that bird’s eye view, to see where things are in the pipeline. I love being able to move things from doing to done. The beauty in it is the simplicity.”  

Trello is cloud-based, meaning it does not require a download. The board’s owner can invite other users—say, multiple vendors working on an event—to access it. The owner can choose whether to keep the board private (the default) or make it public. There are also Trello apps for iPhone and Android devices, so event professionals could use their planning boards while on location.  

Trello reports that it has about 200,000 users, but that number is increasing daily. (The company said 23,000 joined in one week earlier this month after Seth Godin mentioned the service in his blog.)

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