Daryl Ginn, an interface designer from the UK, recently tweeted something I have felt for a long time: “How I use todo apps: 1. Write some todos. 2. Never open the app again. 3. Delete app.” Presumably, the fourth step is to repeat. I’ve used nearly every todo app out there and at some point I end up ditching it - I can’t remember the last time I used Wunderlist, and it’s by far my favorite stand alone todo app.
When I started with Blue Fish I had previously used Basecamp the most, with some Asana and a few others thrown in. Marcus was just starting to work with a task management web app called Teambox. I was interested in it’s features and abilities, but when asked, I stuck to my guns and suggested Asana - which is basically a free Basecamp with limited features. As it turned out, I would live to eat those words.
Fast forward several months and Teambox is now Redbooth and we wouldn’t function as a team without it. Out of the box, Redbooth is pretty simple to understand - all the basic todo functionality is there with a few really great additions like task list templates, notification prefs and integration with Box, Dropbox, SignNow and others. This makes sharing files inside the actual task amazingly simple. When you update a file in Dropbox, it updates in Redbooth as well - this continual syncing makes sharing documents, comps and memes a cinch.
Our workflow in Redbooth is mostly automated. We have a basic task list for every web project that we try to follow to a "T." Some projects are more complex than others, and we have the flexibility to add or remove tasks as the project needs. Our default task template set for our web projects consists of 7 task lists:
Project Management: This includes Client interactions, general housekeeping during our on boarding phase and various check ins throughout the project.
Design: Research, Visual Inventories and discussion points for the design are all contained in this list.
Front-End Development: This list is a pretty basic front-end task list that includes things like “Create Git Repo” and “Create Remote Dev Environment.”
ExpressionEngine: Anyone who knows us knows we’re primarily an ExpressionEngine shop, so in this task list we have tasks pertaining to this like “Set Up SRS Document” and “Set Up Channels.”
Punch List: This list is where we get QA feedback from team members, user testers and clients with hard deadlines on fixing them and getting everything set to launch.
Project Launch: We have a few items here, but it changes from project to project depending on hosting company and a myriad of other potential situations. The one constant here is a task called “Checklist” that is simply a link to the web developer’s checklist.
Post Launch (Finally): This final task list rounds out our projects and reminds us to do things like post to Dribbble, write a blog post and have a post mortem on the project.
Having these all at our fingertips when we begin a new project is awesome. It’s not a crazy leap that no one else has sorted out or anything, but it makes things easy for us to click two or three times and get going with zero friction.
As you, dear reader, may or may not know, we are an almost fully distributed team. Marcus and Kara are near the Alabama Gulf Coast, but I reside in Southwest Missouri and Tad is in the Appalachian foothills being raised by wolf-people. Being that we’re literally never at the same place at the same time, having something like Redbooth, to help us track pretty much everything, is a lifesaver. We could do this with other web apps, but I don’t think the experience would be as fluid. With Video Conferencing (I personally HATE Skype - buggiest thing ever) and Chat (We use Hipchat now but have begun playing with RB chat) being introduced, it’s hard to think that we would want to use anything but Redbooth if the integrated services work well.
The Flip Side
Raving about Redbooth for like 10 paragraphs is awesome because we love it, but with love comes a critical eye. It’s not about pointing things out that we don’t like about Redbooth, but rather about seeing the things - as users - that could make the experience better. I’m not going to dive into UI changes or visual design stuff, we’re mostly talking wish-listy things that would be cool.
Mac App: I could use Fluid or whatever and make it an app, but I’d like to see a Yosemite desktop app that I can launch and love. I like native mac apps and thats a personal issue I’m addressing in a 12 step program.
Master Colors: (Disclaimer: This is super nit-picky) I like to color-code things, and while I personally color-code all our internal things green and whatever projects I’m working on blue, I wish there were a global color coding where an Admin could color code active projects correlated to who was working on them based on tasks. (Does that even make sense?)
SubTask Headers or Separators or Something: Within a task, there is the ability to create sub-tasks and that’s awesome. But with a project that’s quite intricate, it might be nice to have separators inside the sub-tasks to denote the minutiae of the things that need to be done.
The Wrap Up
Redbooth has been a Godsend to our fast-paced team. It’s the epitome of a good web app: It just works. There is a minimal amount of set up out of the box and the learning curve is super mellow. Blue Fish gives Redbooth a stamp of approval for sure. We recommend Redbooth for any team trying to get a handle on tasks, communicate better with a distributed team or just generally keep track of what the heck you’re doing.
Editors Note: My (Marcus') wife even uses Redbooth for her Real Estate business to assign tasks for each property so that her helpers know what needs to be done and when. So it is not just tech teams that benefit from it's awesomeness
Want to talk more about our work or what we do with Redbooth? Drop me a line!