Thoughts on The New Asana Design

This is a brief reflection on some of the things we noticed about the new (gorgeous) look and feel of Asana, the application we use to manage our tasks for our remote team and keep in communication without being bombarded by email.

TLDR: We love the Asana update, and you should go check out the app if you’re unfamiliar.

Asana's new logo

Our first take on Asana’s re-skin

Mad Marketing Mojo

The first thing we noticed is that the marketing video they made for this new design, is captivating and superb.

It does very little to show you what Asana actually does, so it isn’t an instructional video. It’s more of an introduction to their new branding, and the new atmosphere of playfulness that has become a trademark of theirs.

The video is hypnotic and gorgeous. The new logo is clean and elegant. Asana animators, would you like to come work with us?

Old Asana is still a few clicks away

We appreciate that you can continue to operate with the classic design you’re used to, and have been using for years, in case you just don’t have room right away for the disorientation of new colors and a slightly different layout and feel.

Getting used to such a comprehensive redesign can be a distracting adjustment. If today isn’t a slow, leisurely day, you can put off the adjustment for another day.

Speed boost! (?)

We think Asana now “feels faster.” Asana claims it is. Placebo? Maybe. But it’s a benefit either way.

Making Adjustments

You may experience some slight disorientation.

Header’s in projects take up more space, and their “Header-like Presence” make wonderful semantic sense. The Title of the project you are looking at is FRONT AND CENTER. Which, ironically, took a while for my brain to find. And of course, color being the most visually attention-seeking elements of graphic design, it takes a little time to recognize exactly what you’re looking at, even though all that’s changed is the color and size.

Show Me More

One thing that our team is constantly aware of is “screen real estate” or “how is the application using the space allotted to it?”

Asana has had some ups and downs in this department, at least in our opinion. A few months back they moved the search control out of the sidebar to take up its own banner across the top of every screen, and we complained loudly.

In this redesign, they’ve reversed direction a bit, and we are fans. We really like the vertical collapse of the Title and its header.

Matthew was also full of praise for the “Compact Mode” that shrinks everything vertically, so you can see more tasks on a single screen. (Find Compact Mode it in the “Hacks” tab under My Profile Settings.)

Great interface design is about both feel and function. Now with more screen real estate, it feels like we can do more, faster.

(We’d still love to see the search bar move back to the sidebar, adding a few more pixels of vertical space to every project view. Perhaps that’d make for a good “Hack”.)

The Smart Side Bar is quite smart.

Speaking of the sidebar, we’ve noticed that its behavior (whether it’s visible or not) has improved. When it isn’t explicitly toggled on, it is hidden at narrow window widths but automatically becomes visible when there’s room for it. This has been the case for quite awhile, but we’d noticed this had stopped happening in various releases leading up to this big one. It’s great to see this little detail is back, and working consistently for us again when we’ve got horizontal pixels to spare.

Recurring tasks Later

We found a neat and new-to-us “hack” called “Recurring Tasks in LATER”. We don’t know if it’s part of this big release, but we only found it while looking at all the other shiny changes.

If you’re taking full advantage of your “my tasks” view then you’ll have noticed how tasks will percolate up as their due-dates approach. You may have also noticed how recurring tasks automatically re-spawn themselves as “upcoming”. This can be rough if you’ve got a ton of things to juggle in this view, and your “today” and “upcoming” buckets can’t afford any extra noise.

But with this “hack”, recurring tasks will instead start life off your radar until it’s time they percolate up onto your “today” plate again.

We’d really like to see more of this kind of thing, where we can set policies for task behavior that lets the system work more for us; the less we have to manually curate and garden things to make the system work for us, the better.

Ow My Eyes!

One request, Asana.

The themes are gorgeous, but we could also really use a “not as white” version. We’re at our screens all day, and eye strain is a bear. Softer contrast would be an accessibility win.

More intuitive view settings

Old Asana gave you the ability to choose whether to show just incomplete tasks, just completed tasks, or both, with the additional ability to include only recently-completed tasks. Then, you could save view settings as the default for everyone.

We enjoy seeing recently completed tasks. It adds to the feeling of accomplishment, and also helps us keep better track of what we’ve done. So we use those view settings controls a lot to tweak how we view tasks in projects.

The new interface collapses it all into a single menu. It seems like such a small change, but we find it much faster to use, and more intuitive. Win.

Fierce New Unicorns are Fierce

Omg, new unicorns! Enough said.

All in all, we would definitely recommend Asana to a friend. And it’s so refreshing to hit an update that feels so lovely and so different, and yet familiar at the same time.

Thanks Team Asana! You done good! Keep it up!

PS:

Personally, I still deeply miss the “Leave Unread/Don’t Archive” functionality in the inbox. I find myself making subtasks to read comments when my first goal of the morning is to clear the inbox and I don’t actually have 20 minutes to get caught up on my coworkers’ brilliant thoughts from the middle of the night.

I would consider it a personal service, Team Asana, if you would consider bringing”Don’t Archive” back…

Comments

  1. Matthew Eppelsheimer

    On the not-so-great side of things, I just realized that there are now two fewer visual queues to add tags to tasks. There used to be a button along the top of a task’s detail pain (near the subtasks button). There also used to be a tag icon in the tag row, even when there were no tags yet added to a task. Both are now gone in the redesign.

    We rely on tags a lot for adding all kinds of task metadata. I found it hard enough before to consistently remember to tag things as appropriate and expected by others. Now, without the prompting, this will be harder.

    My guess is that Asana’s UX research indicated tags is a relatively little-used feature, and so it wasn’t worth prioritizing in the design. Either way, it’s too bad.

    • Catherine Bridge

      That said, the Tags feature still does exist when you click on the (…) “Task Actions” menu in the task’s header.

      And tab-t will open up the enter-tag field.

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