I like the personal kanban way of working. It satisfies my need to make lists and track everything in one place, while being flexible enough to evolve and adapt with minimal friction, and I like the feeling it gives of tasks flowing through my workflow. I also prefer digital tools in general, because (battery life permitting) I can generally use them wherever I am.

For online kanban-ing I really like Trello but recently I’ve been trying out another product, LeanKit, so I wanted to note down my thoughts on how they measure up.


Trello is fairly simple in concept, though probably inspired by the ideas of kanban. The overall structure is that you create cards, arrange them vertically into columns (“lists”) and group the lists into boards. That’s all the structure there is, but you can have any number of boards, lists and cards.

  • What I like:
    • Create cards via email (especially when combined with automation tool IFTTT)
    • Smooth interface with a sense of fun and amazing mobile apps
    • Can have lots of boards with different backgrounds
    • Flexible sharing features for individuals and organisations
    • Keyboard shortcuts for many features
  • What I don’t like:
    • Inflexibility of structure (partly overcome with multiple boards)
    • The lists all look the same so it’s hard to orient yourself when quickly glancing at one


Where Trello is all about simplicity, LeanKit is more about power. The overarching concept is similar: you’re still arranging cards in columns (“lanes” in LeanKit). The key difference is that LeanKit has much more flexibility in how you arrange your lanes: you can split them vertically or horizontally as many times as you like, allowing much more hierarchical grouping structures.

  • What I like:
    • Very flexible: you can freely split lanes vertically & horizontally to create your desired structure
    • It hides away old cards in a fully searchable archive
    • Bulk editing/moving of cards
    • Some premium features (e.g. sub-boards within cards, analytics)
  • What I don’t like
    • The best features are paid-only:
      • Sharing boards
      • Moving stuff between boards
      • More than 3 boards
    • The interface feels stuck in the mid-2000s
    • Poor mobile support: only third-party apps are available and their support of some features is limited
    • Possibly too flexible: it tends to lead me down process-tweaking rabbit-holes when I should be getting things done

What am I doing now?

LeanKit was an interesting experiment, and I think it has a lot of value for those who need those more advanced features and are prepared to pay. At the end of the day though, I’m not one of those people so I’ve moved back to Trello.

I have, though, learned a lot about flexible use of boards from my experience with LeanKit and I’m experimenting a lot more with how I use them now I’m back in Trello. For example I’m increasingly creating separate boards for particular types of task (e.g. people I want to meet) and for larger projects.

In summary: if you can justify paying the cash and don’t mind the clunkiness, try LeanKit, but otherwise, just use Trello!

I’d be interested to know which company is the more profitable: does LeanKit’s focus on big enterprise customers pay off or hold them back by putting off individuals?