The Zapier Blog https://zapier.com/blog A blog about productivity, workflow automation, company building and how to get things done with less work. Wed, 13 Mar 2024 09:49:17 GMT Asana vs. Basecamp: Which project management tool should you use? [2024] https://zapier.com/blog/asana-vs-basecamp .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

Ever since one of my freelancing clients assigned me a project on Trello seven years ago, I've been a project management geek. I went from jotting down tasks on sticky notes to seamlessly collaborating with teammates through the cloud. But with so many options on the market, determining the best software for your needs can get overwhelming.

As a solopreneur managing a small team and client projects in 2024, flexibility and ease of use are my top priorities. Over the years, I've used many tools, and Asana and Basecamp have emerged as two of my favorites. 

I spent even more time playing around with each tool before writing this, and here, I'll compare Asana vs. Basecamp based on my experiences. 

Asana vs. Basecamp at a glance

Start with this comparison table, and then read on for more details about the apps.

Asana

Basecamp

Ease of use

⭐⭐⭐⭐ More complex features and views—there's a learning curve

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Prioritizes simplicity

Customization

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Enables high levels of customization across projects, tasks, views, and workflows

⭐⭐ Interface is simpler with fewer ways to customize workflows

Integrations

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  200+ native integrations; also connects with Zapier

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ About 100 native integrations; also connects with Zapier

Pricing

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Free and paid tiers for flexibility; per-user pricing can get costly for large teams

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Unlocks full access at two price points; simple for solos but also cost-effective for larger teams

Asana is more flexible and handles complexity, while Basecamp is more focused

Both Asana and Basecamp offer board, to-do, timeline, and Gantt chart views. Where the tools differ is in their degree of customization and fluidity. 

For example, toggling between Asana's views is very straightforward. The navigation bar allows me to switch perspectives to get the exact information I need.

Toggling between views in Asana

Switching between views in Basecamp requires a bit more effort. For example, suppose I want to switch from the Card Table view (its version of a Kanban board) to Schedule. I'd have to head back to the project home screen and then select Schedule from there. 

Basecamp's Schedule also shows team projects—not individual tasks like Asana.

The Schedule view in Basecamp

It's a bit more tedious when I want to view my own schedule in Basecamp—I have to select My Stuff in a dropdown menu, and select My Schedule

The same goes for the List view. Asana's is cleaner than Basecamp's To-Dos if you want to view your own tasks—not everyone else's. 

Asana's list view

I can filter by assignee to see just my tasks—and sort them based on due date, name, and priority, among other things.

All the filter options in Asana

Basecamp, on the other hand, doesn't give me any option to filter. I see all tasks lumped together.

The Basecamp list view

Then there's the Dashboard tab in Asana. At a glance, I can see how many tasks are incomplete across stages. I can also group incomplete tasks by assignee or custom fields like priority or due date range.

The Asana dashboard

Basecamp doesn't have a comparable dashboard. Instead, I'd have to pull data from multiple places to generate a similar report. Having said that, for monitoring project progress at a high level, Basecamp offers a feature called Move the Needle, which highlights project status and risks on a visible gauge, so all collaborators have transparency. 

Asana goes the more traditional route with task dependency feature that can help automate processes and prevent bottlenecks. 

In the end, Basecamp's interface is great for basic workflow tracking, but it lacks Asana's depth and flexibility.

Basecamp offers a practical file management system for easy sharing

Both Basecamp and Asana allow you to attach files directly to tasks for easy access. But Basecamp goes a step further with its Docs & Files section, which acts like a central hub for all your project files.

As a solo freelancer, I love having one place to store and share files across Basecamp projects. 

The Docs & Files section in Basecamp

The file management system keeps everything neatly organized with folders, color coding, and sortable views. I can also create folders that group different types of files. 

Asana also lets you attach files from your computer, Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive when creating tasks. But its Files tab isn't as intuitive—it's a gallery-style view of all the images, documents, and files attached to tasks in a project or your My tasks. There are no options to create folders or color-code them.

The Files tab in Asana

This makes it more challenging to keep track of everything related to different tasks.

With Basecamp, I can upload a file once to Docs & Files, and anyone can easily access or share it across multiple projects.

Basecamp also offers other file management features like:

  • Basecamp Docs for taking and sharing notes

  • Version history to track changes

  • Moving files between folders

If centralized file management is important for your project management workflow, and you want to keep it all within one tool, Basecamp brings everything together in one organized hub. If you already use a separate file management app, it might not be a big differentiator for you.

Asana has more advanced native automations and integrations, but both tools integrate with Zapier

Asana offers native integrations with 200+ apps for collaboration, communication, time tracking, automation, notifications, and productivity. These native integrations are a huge time-saver for me (my favorite is the Canva integration: every design I create in Canva is automatically attached to the corresponding Asana task). 

Asana also has a built-in workflow builder: a no-code, point-and-click tool to build automated workflows that streamline repetitive processes. For example, I built a workflow so that when clients assign me tasks on Slack, it automatically creates a task in Asana. 

The workflow builder in Asana

Asana workflows can also automatically trigger actions in Asana or other systems when I complete tasks. This removes manual busywork, so I can focus on high-impact tasks. 

And custom automation templates make it easy to duplicate workflows for common processes instead of reinventing the wheel each time. Asana recommends rules based on my project and past activity.

Asana workflow templates

Basecamp also has native integrations—about 100 essential tools—but it lacks the breadth and depth of Asana.

However, both Asana and Basecamp integrate with Zapier, so you can connect them to thousands of other apps and customize your automations even more. (For example, I use Zapier to automatically copy Basecamp tasks to my Google Calendar.) Learn more about how to automate Asana with Zapier, or get started with one of these pre-built workflows for Asana and Basecamp.

Asana's pricing scales with you, while Basecamp provides comprehensive access at two price points

Asana offers tiered pricing plans to accommodate teams of all sizes, while Basecamp uses a flat pricing structure that unlocks all features at two price points.

As a solopreneur, I appreciate Asana's free Personal plan. It covers all my basic task management needs. The Starter plan, at $10.99/user/month, adds more features, but the costs can add up quickly as you scale. And the Advanced plan, at $24.99/user/month, which is necessary for teams that want a lot of automations and advanced reporting, can get expensive with even a small-ish team.

Basecamp's model is more all-or-nothing. You get full access to every feature for $15/user/month. Then there's the Pro Unlimited Plan, which gives you unlimited users for $299/month. If you have a big team, that could mean a lot of savings. For example, a 100-person company would pay $2,500/month for Asana's Advanced plan, but only $299/month for Basecamp Pro Unlimited.

Basecamp vs. Asana: Which should you use?

Asana shines with its flexibility, but it can get a bit chaotic—and if you have a big team, expensive. Basecamp cuts through any noise with its simplicity, but it can feel a bit restrictive.

Choose Asana if:

  • Custom views and workflows are a high priority 

  • You handle multiple complex projects with many moving parts

  • You're starting out and don't want to pay for a project management tool

Choose Basecamp if:

  • You don't want to pay per-user costs for a full-fledged tool

  • You value simplicity in your project management

  • You don't need advanced automation

Related reading:

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Kiran Shahid Tue, 12 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/asana-vs-basecamp
Constant Contact vs. HubSpot: Which should you use? [2024] https://zapier.com/blog/constant-contact-vs-hubspot .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

The first email marketing tool I ever used in my business was HubSpot. Since then, I've tried various email marketing platforms, but until recently, I'd never dug into Constant Contact.

While both tools have great email marketing features, HubSpot positions itself as an all-in-one marketing solution, while Constant Contact is a dedicated email marketing platform for small businesses. So for this article, I spent time in both apps, testing their features to understand how they stack up when it comes to email marketing and beyond.

Here's what I discovered—I hope it helps you choose the best email marketing tool for your business.

Constant Contact vs. HubSpot at a glance

Comparing HubSpot to Constant Contact is like contrasting a Swiss army knife with a chef's knife: HubSpot does way more than Constant Contact, but it can get a little complicated. If you use all of HubSpot's Hubs and features, you'll get tools for marketing, sales, operations, content management, and customer service. Meanwhile, Constant Contact focuses almost exclusively on email marketing. 

In order to compare apples to apples, I'll focus mostly on the features of HubSpot that overlap with Constant Contact. This means using HubSpot's Marketing Hub, and homing in on its email marketing platform, sign-up forms, CRM, landing page builder, and automation features.

Here's a quick rundown of their comparable features, but keep reading for more details about each app and my experience using them.

Constant Contact

HubSpot 

Ease of use 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Very easy to use and set up for beginners

⭐⭐⭐ Quite complex and confusing due to its many Hubs and features

Email templates and design 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hundreds of professionally-designed templates that are easily customizable

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Greater range of professional templates and offers more styling options in the email builder

Contact segmentation

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Contact segmentation based on basic attributes like demographics, interest, and engagement data

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Advanced segmentation powered by a robust CRM that allows you to segment contacts by lifestyle stages and other custom filters

AI features

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Includes an AI writer that can generate full emails from scratch

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ In addition to generating new emails, its AI writer can improve existing copy 

Landing page builder

⭐⭐⭐ Limited number of landing page templates with limited customization options

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Broad selection of templates with lots of customization and styling options

Automation

⭐⭐⭐⭐ User-friendly automation builder that allows you to build simple personalized journeys; also comes with lots of automation templates you can quickly customize

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Advanced automation builder for creating complex multi-step user journeys; comes with a broader range of automation templates and plenty of trigger, action, and condition options

Pricing

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ More affordable for small businesses, from $12/month to $80/month

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Very expensive but offers more tools for managing your business, from $20/month to $3,600/month

Integration

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Integrates with hundreds of other tools, plus Zapier

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Integrates with thousands of other tools, plus Zapier

Constant Contact is easier to use and set up

HubSpot and Constant Contact both offer a smooth user experience, but Constant Contact is easier to use and more suitable for people looking to jump right in. It makes sense, since it has fewer features to figure out, plus it has a really streamlined interface. Once you click Create, you'll find all the tools you need to start your campaign. 

Starting a campaign in Constant Contact

From there, it's a straightforward system for adding and managing contacts, building automations, and setting up emails. 

In HubSpot, on the other hand, everything is in a different area of the app—sometimes across Hubs. Contacts are in one place, automation in another, and so on. Navigating the Hubs and getting to the things you need can be confusing, even with the neatly organized dropdown menus.

A great example of the contrast in ease of setup is the process for importing contacts. In Constant Contact, your spreadsheet can include basic fields, like email address, contact name, company, and birthday. Once you upload the spreadsheet, you can start sending emails right away. In HubSpot, because the email marketing tool is built on top of a powerful CRM system, it requires more in-depth information on every contact. For every contact record, you have the option to bring in a vast amount of data, like deals, products, and even activities, to give your sales and marketing teams all the information they need about each contact in your funnel.

Importing contacts in HubSpot

While advanced marketers may appreciate this level of detail, it can be confusing for less experienced users. And I found that setting up the spreadsheet for import into HubSpot took a considerable amount of time more than in Constant Contact.

If simplicity and ease of use are your priorities, Constant Contact will serve you well.

Both platforms offer solid email building features

Once your contacts are all set up and you're ready to start building campaigns, Constant Contact and HubSpot both give you hundreds of responsive and good-looking templates for different use cases. They both use a visual drag-and-drop editor that allows you to customize every part of the template. You can easily change the layouts, text style, or colors to reflect your brand. You can also add images, buttons, dividers, and other graphic elements for extra polish. 

Here's a look at Constant Contact's email builder:

Constant Contact's email builder

And here's HubSpot's:

HubSpot's email builder

Not too different, and if you've ever used an email builder, you'll feel right at home in either. Plus, if you have coding and design chops, both platforms allow you to build your emails from scratch and use custom HTML code to customize them.

HubSpot and Constant Contact also both provide AI writing assistance in their email builders, and they have similar approaches. In Constant Contact, you describe your content in a sentence or two, choose your tone of voice and length, and the AI writer will generate a full email for you.

The AI writer in Constant Contact

HubSpot works the same, but it can also rewrite, expand, and shorten your text, or change the tone to be more in tune with your brand. Just highlight any written content in the email builder and click the lightning bolt icon to edit it. This isn't anything you couldn't do in ChatGPT or another AI writing generator and paste over, but it's nice to have it built in.

The AI writer in HubSpot

The only big difference between Constant Contact and HubSpot here is that HubSpot offers more styling flexibility and so has a slightly higher learning curve, while Constant Contact is remarkably easy to use. But you'll get all you need to build professional emails in either tool.

HubSpot's landing page builder is more sophisticated

Both HubSpot and Constant Contact offer landing page builders for lead capture, but you'll get more value out of HubSpot's.

For starters, HubSpot offers a broader selection of templates, designed for practical scenarios like scheduling consultations, asset downloads, and event registration.

HubSpot's landing page templates

Inside each template, HubSpot delivers a premier page editing experience with its powerful drag-and-drop editor. You can add new layouts, modules, or sections to any template. Every page element is highly customizable, from background color to buttons, text, icons, and images. You can also adjust padding, borders, and visibility of different elements to suit different browsers and device sizes. And you can create dynamic landing pages that show unique content based on who views them and the information stored in your CRM. 

HubSpot's landing page builder

Besides these design elements, HubSpot allows you to optimize different parts of your landing page in the builder. As you build your page and add content, the tool will analyze your headers, images, links, and mobile-friendliness and make recommendations for search engine optimization (SEO). Not surprising for a company that coined the term "inbound marketing."

HubSpot's SEO recommendation in its landing page builder

In addition to these SEO features, HubSpot allows you to run in-depth A/B tests from the page editor to check the effectiveness of your landing page. You can test the CTA, copy, media content, and layout and use the insights to improve your page's performance.

Constant Contact's landing page builder is very basic in comparison, as the tool is built for simplicity. Its template options are highly limited, and the page builder isn't as customizable. While you can do basic things like change colors, adjust alignment, and add event blocks, you can't do things like optimize or create dynamic pages.

Constant Contact's landing page builder

If landing pages are secondary, and you're focused mostly on email marketing, Constant Contact will get the job done. But if you want to make landing pages a big part of your strategy, HubSpot is the better choice. 

HubSpot's automation is more powerful

Email automation is another area that shows just how different Constant Contact is from HubSpot. While Constant Contact allows you to build simple yet effective automated email journeys, HubSpot delivers complex, multi-step journeys for automating contacts through longer buyer lifecycles. Here's what I mean.

In Constant Contact, you'll get pre-built automated templates that are easily customizable. You can use these templates to set up automated email sequences to welcome new subscribers, win back inactive customers, or celebrate subscribers on their birthdays. You can also use the drag-and-drop automation builder to build custom automations that trigger when new contacts are added, links are clicked, or contacts are tagged and segmented. But it's pretty basic, with very few trigger and action options.

Constant Contact's automation options

With HubSpot, the pre-built automated workflow templates go well beyond welcome series, anniversaries, and cart abandonment. For instance, HubSpot offers workflow templates to create and assign tasks when a new deal is made, collect customer insights with a survey, or update contact properties based on defined criteria. Alternatively, you can build custom automation based on contacts, companies, deals, and conversations in your CRM—there are lots of options.

HubSpot's automation options

Inside the automation builder, you'll get a wide variety of trigger and action options. You can get very granular and set filters for your triggers so that the workflow only starts when certain conditions are met; for example, only if the contact's lifecycle is set to lead (if it's a contact-based workflow). 

HubSpot offers if/then branching to send contacts on different paths based on a variety of specific criteria. For workflows with multiple if/then branches, you can connect them using a "go to" action, and you can enroll contacts from one workflow into another without repeating the entire automation steps. With HubSpot, your automation can be as simple or complex as your business needs, and it can cover all of your marketing and sales funnels.

HubSpot's workflow builder

The only downside—and it's a big one—is that advanced automation is locked behind higher-tier plans like Marketing Professional and Enterprise—it's going to put you back hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month, minimum. On the Starter plan, you can only access ten automated actions, which are not so sophisticated.

The bottom line: if you want advanced automation, HubSpot is the better option, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Contact segmentation is better in HubSpot

Both HubSpot and Constant Contact offer contact segmentation—but to different extents. In Constant Contact, you can segment your contacts based on common criteria, like engagement level, the email lists they're subscribed to, the personal information you've collected, or the tags added to their contact.  

But thanks to HubSpot's CRM, which holds in-depth data on every contact, you'll get more advanced segmentation options in HubSpot. That means segmenting based on persona, lifecycle stage, industry, interests, engagement level, and even economic value. For dynamic marketing lists, the platform will automatically sort your contacts and group subscribers accordingly when they meet your pre-set criteria, like contact property, list membership, or interaction with marketing assets.

Segmentation in HubSpot

It's an advanced segmentation system that will start paying dividends as your list grows.

HubSpot has a free plan, but Constant Contact is more affordable for small businesses

HubSpot has a free email plan that lets you send up to 2,000 emails every month (without many of the advanced features). Constant Contact, on the other hand, doesn't have a free plan—just a 14-day free trial.

After the free introductions, Constant Contact is easily the cheaper option. It has a simple pricing structure, with three-tiered plans that start at $12/month for up to 500 contacts. The pricing goes up incrementally depending on the size of your contact list, and lower-tiered plans—Lite and Standard—exclude advanced features like custom automation paths and engagement heat maps. 

HubSpot's Marketing Hub also has three price tiers, starting at $20/month for 1,000 marketing contacts but with limited functionality. The price shoots up to $890/month if you want to access advanced features like workflows, A/B testing, custom reporting, and social media integration. And then there's the enterprise plan, which costs $3,600/month. Even though HubSpot offers options to build a customized plan based on your business needs, it still works out to be very expensive for small businesses.

Both platforms integrate with other tools and connect with Zapier

Constant Contact and HubSpot both have great integration options, so you can keep your email marketing platform connected to the rest of your tech stack. 

HubSpot has way more native integrations, but both HubSpot and Constant Contact integrate with Zapier, which means you can connect them to thousands of other apps and do things like automatically sync contacts across different apps, register contacts for events, or move contact details in and out of your lists. Learn more about how to automate HubSpot with Zapier, or get started with any of these pre-made workflows.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

HubSpot vs. Constant Contact: Which should you choose?

HubSpot and Constant Contact are very different tools. HubSpot is better for growing and large companies looking for a one-stop marketing platform. Its vast range of features covers all sorts of business functions and may be too much for users looking for a dedicated email tool. Constant Contact, on the other hand, is more suited for small businesses and solopreneurs looking for an affordable, streamlined, and focused email marketing solution.

Related reading:

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Juliet John Tue, 12 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/constant-contact-vs-hubspot
Trello vs. monday: Which should you use for project management? [2024] https://zapier.com/blog/trello-vs-monday .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

Trello and monday.com each pack a unique punch in the project management ring.

Trello, with its streamlined Kanban-based system, feels like organizing your tasks with sticky notes on a digital wall: intuitive, straightforward, and oddly satisfying. It's like that chill friend who's always up for a coffee run and somehow manages to keep everything organized with a smile.

On the other side, we've got monday, the all-in-one powerhouse that's all about customization and flexibility. It's like the friend who color-codes everything and has a spreadsheet for their spreadsheets. 

I've been a Trello user for years, and recently got around to testing monday.com's premium plan to see what the hype is all about. What I found is that these are two powerful PM tools, but they're designed for two slightly different audiences. 

Whether you're a fan of simplicity or uber-customization, there's a lot to unpack here. Let's get into it and find out which one is right for your team.

Trello vs. monday at a glance

Here's a quick comparison table to highlight the main differences between Trello and monday, but keep reading for details about the various features and my experience using each platform. Or you can skip to the end for a quick summary of which project management tool will be best for you.

Trello

monday

Views

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Kanban king, but limited number of other views

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Many ways to view data, though some are locked behind higher price tiers

Ease of use

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Out-of-the-box, get-started-and-go ease; simple interface

⭐⭐ Steep learning curve and overwhelmingly customizable interface, but feature-rich

Customization

⭐⭐⭐ Custom fields offer a certain degree of flexibility, but leaves room for more

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Customize almost everything about your projects

Dashboards

⭐⭐⭐ View critical info like cards per list and cards per member

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Super customizable visual project dashboards

Pricing

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Has a free-forever plan; paid plans starts at $5/user/month

⭐⭐⭐ Free 14-day trial; plans start at $9/user/month

Time management

⭐⭐⭐ Has due dates for cards and tasks; time tracking available through third-party integrations

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Built-in time tracking, with timelines and capacity planning features to make sure you don't miss any deadlines

Extra features

⭐⭐⭐ Power-Ups give you access to a lot of extra options across software categories

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ monday bills itself as a Work OS and it shows with features like portfolio management; also has CRM and development tracking products 

monday.com has more advanced features for teams

monday.com bills its project management tool as a Work OS (operating system), and I find that branding to hold true. It's an all-in-one powerhouse of an app, organizing everything your team could possibly want to organize, no matter how complex. It's like a Swiss Army knife, but less dangerous.

For example, monday has built-in capacity planning, which is perfect for teams that need to balance workloads and allocate resources effectively. Imagine being able to see, at a glance, who's swamped with tasks and who's itching for more work—it gives you a birds-eye view of your team's bandwidth.

A dashbaord showing a team's bandwidth in monday.com
Image source: monday.com

monday also has built-in time tracking, so you can log the effort expected and actual effort spent on each task. The feature isn't about Big Brothering your team's hours; it's about gaining insight into how much time different tasks actually take, helping you plan projects more accurately in the future. It's also a fantastic way to identify processes that could be streamlined, or tasks that are taking longer than expected. 

monday.com interface

In the end, monday is all about workflow optimization and portfolio management (in addition to standard project management). That makes it a great fit for bigger teams that have lots of projects up in the air at once, but not a good fit for smaller teams that don't necessarily need a high level of detail in their project tracking. 

One last thing: besides its Work OS project management tool, the platform also offers a sales CRM and product development tracking tool. I'm not going to dig into those here, but it's a good indication of the breadth of the software when compared to Trello.

Trello is easier to use

Trello is the embodiment of simplicity. With its Kanban board-based layout, adding tasks feels as natural as pinning a note to the fridge. Each board represents a project, and within each board, you create lists to categorize stages of your project. Then, you add cards to these lists to represent your individual tasks. 

A Trello board

Navigating Trello feels like playing with digital LEGO bricks: you can view your colorful labels at a glance, move the pieces around with ease, and get a sense of accomplishment when you drag tasks to the "Done" column. It's so easy, a kid could do it. (I know because I've actually shown a kid my Trello board before.)

Trello's lack of learning curve is its greatest feature. No need to wade through complicated menus or wonder how to add a task—the buttons are all right there, intuitive, and hassle-free.

Meanwhile, monday is a bit of a head-scratcher to navigate, especially when you first dig in. You have to tweak all the columns to your needs, which creates new views, and you have to manually designate which are your "Done" statuses. Its interface can get a bit cluttered with tasks, so you have to use filters and sections to break everything up. 

monday.com grid view

On monday.com, you can only have one level of subtasks, and you can't copy subtasks to other tasks. 

Subtasks in monday.com

Trello also has the same subtask limitation, but you can copy checklists from one card to another as easily as selecting a dropdown menu. 

Copying subtasks (via a checklist) in Trello

monday isn't the most difficult platform to learn, but it's certainly not as straightforward as Trello. If you're looking for more of a plug-and-play solution, or have a team that doesn't do well with learning new tech, Trello is your best bet.

monday is more customizable

monday might be a bit more difficult to pick up, but therein lies one of its strengths: its unparalleled level of customization. You can tailor monday to fit your team's unique workflow, no matter how complex it is.

One of monday's claims to fame is its plethora of views. Whether you're a visual thinker who loves seeing tasks laid out on a timeline or a detail-oriented planner who prefers the precision of a spreadsheet, monday has you covered. The platform offers a variety of views, including Kanban boards for those who love Trello's distinctive interface, Gantt charts for detailed project planning, calendar views for deadline-based tasks, and even workload views for managing team capacity. Each view can be customized and saved, ensuring that every team member can work and plan in the way that suits them best.

Gantt view in monday.com
Gantt view
Table view in monday.com
Table view
Kanban view in monday.com
Kanban view

monday's dashboards also stand out, aggregating data and metrics across all your projects onto one clean visual interface. 

A dashboard in monday.com

Meanwhile, Trello's "dashboard" view is extremely simple: it only tells you how many cards you have per list, due date, and label, and that's about it—even if you have the more premium plan. 

A dashboard in Trello

One important thing: while monday offers deep customization options, some of these more advanced views and features are gated behind higher price tiers. This means that access to the full power of monday's customization capabilities might require stepping up to a more premium subscription. 

Still, the ability to tailor the platform extensively to your team's needs is a compelling reason to choose it. The flexibility allows you to create a truly bespoke project management experience that can evolve with your team.

Trello has a freemium plan; monday is paid-only

If cost is a factor for you, you'll definitely want to know that Trello has a forever-free plan, while monday is paid-only (with a free 14-day trial to start out).

Trello's freemium model is like the ultimate appetizer platter: generous, satisfying, and designed to give you a real taste of what's on offer. You can create up to 10 boards, with unlimited lists and cards, invite team members to collaborate, and even integrate with a handful of other apps—all without spending a dime. It's perfect for individuals and small teams who are looking for an effective way to manage projects without committing to a monthly subscription. 

If you do opt for a subscription, Trello starts at $5/user/month for unlimited boards and storage, with custom fields and 1,000 workspace command runs per month, and goes up to $10/user to add on its views and unlimited command runs. Its accessible pricing, plus forever-free plan, makes Trello a budget-friendly project management tool. 

Trello's pricing page

On the flip side, monday takes a clear-cut approach to its pricing: if you want in, there's a price tag. That price tag is $9/user/month for its cheapest Basic plan; $12 for its Standard plan with automations, integrations, and more views; and $19 for its Pro plan, which includes the time tracking feature. It's pricier, but it also signals the company's commitment to providing a robust, feature-rich platform for serious teams ready to invest in their project management solution.

You can tell just by their pricing models who each tool speaks to. Trello opens its doors wide, welcoming anyone and everyone to organize their projects, whether they have the funds to shell out or not. monday, meanwhile, aims to attract a crowd ready to dive deep, offering a suite of advanced features that cater to teams looking for a comprehensive, all-in-one project management solution. Truly, monday.com is for those seeking a complete Work OS. 

Both apps integrate with Zapier

Both apps offer plenty of native integrations—you can access them on Trello's free plan and monday.com's Standard plan.

And because both Trello and monday integrate with Zapier, you'll be able to connect them both with thousands of other tools as well. Learn more about how to automate Trello and how to automate monday.com, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

monday vs. Trello: Which is best?

Trello offers a no-cost way to get organized, making it an attractive option for those just starting out or managing smaller projects. monday.com, with its focus on a feature-rich experience, appeals to established teams willing to invest in a powerful tool that can streamline their workflows and boost productivity.

Choose Trello if:

  • You want a cleaner, simpler interface that's intuitive to navigate with drag-and-drop ease

  • You don't have a lot of time to set up and train your team on how to use a new tool

  • Your budget is $0

  • You're a freelancer, startup, or small team looking to keep costs down

Choose monday.com if:

  • You want to visualize your projects in many different ways

  • You need to see important metrics and capacity planning for your team on dashboards at a glance

  • You want a more robust, ultra-customizable tool

  • Your team and its projects are scaling rapidly

So, what do you need most: simplicity or power? Both platforms bring their A-game to the project management table, but they cater to different crowds with unique needs, workflows, and priorities.

Related reading:

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Hsing Tseng Tue, 12 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/trello-vs-monday
Trello vs. Todoist: Which should you use? [2024] https://zapier.com/blog/trello-vs-todoist .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

I'm an avid user of both Trello and Todoist: I use these two apps to organize my entire life and my work. That means you don't necessarily have to choose between them—you can use both. But if you're looking to pick between them, I can help.

In one corner, we have Trello, the Kanban board tool that helps you see the status of all your projects at once and makes project management look like a work of art. It's project management at its core.

In the opposite corner, there's Todoist, which turns the chaos of your endless tasks into neatly organized checklists. Todoist is a to-do list app at heart, made for folks who dream in bullet points and find joy in the simple act of crossing things off.

So comparing Trello vs. Todoist is a bit like comparing apples to oranges: they're different apps for different uses, both stellar at what they do best. Which app is best for you will ultimately depend on what you need to organize (projects or tasks?) and how you want to organize it (boards or lists?)

Let's explore the nitty-gritty differences between Trello and Todoist. 

Trello vs. Todoist at a glance

Here's a comparison table to help you decide on the features that matter most to you. I'll dive deeper, of course, but if you're short on time, go ahead and skip to the end to find out which app you should choose.

Trello

Todoist

Pricing

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Trello has an extremely robust free plan

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Todoist offers the most bang for your buck at an accessible price point

Task management

⭐⭐⭐ Nests tasks within lists within cards (standard Kanban)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Excels at managing tasks and subtasks

Project management

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Get a bird's-eye view of all your projects at once

⭐⭐⭐⭐ You can break down projects into smaller tasks, but it's less adept at project management

Collaboration

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Co-create and co-project manage with comments, activity, and assigned tasks and cards

⭐⭐⭐ You get shared projects, comments, and assigned tasks, but not a lot of big-picture collaboration

Natural language processing

⭐ Non-existent

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Built-in NLP for adding tasks on certain dates or durations

Automation

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Built-in automations

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Automation through integrations

Integrations

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Integrates with 200+ apps; thousands more using Zapier

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Native two-way sync with Google Calendar, integrations with 60+ apps; thousands more using Zapier

Trello has a more robust free plan, but Todoist's paid plans are more affordable

When considering productivity tools, a key aspect to look at is the bang you get for your buck—or in some cases, the bang you get without spending a buck. 

On its free forever plan, Trello gives you unlimited cards, up to 10 boards per workspace, and a suite of essential features that make project management easy. It's perfect for individuals and small teams dipping their toes into organized project waters. 

As you scale up and need more sophisticated project management features, Trello moves to $5/user/month (billed annually) for unlimited boards, advanced checklists, and custom fields. And for those craving the full experience, Trello's Premium plan, at $10/user/month, unlocks the door to powerful features like advanced views and unlimited automations, catering to the needs of larger teams and complex projects.

Meanwhile, Todoist's free Basic plan leaves much to be desired. You only get five projects and three filter views, and you don't get access to Todoist's most valuable feature: task reminders. Without reminders, Todoist doesn't really operate to its full potential. 

For individuals, stepping up to Todoist Pro costs a reasonable $4/month (billed annually), offering a nice boost in functionality with reminders, a calendar view, an AI assistant, 300 projects, and 150 filter views. Teams looking to collaborate more efficiently can opt for Todoist Business at $6/user/month, providing a shared team workspace with more advanced features tailored to group productivity.

Comparing the free vs. paid options, Trello has a better free plan, but more expensive paid plans that reflect Trello's more advanced feature set, while Todoist's paid plan could be a better value for teams that jibe with its simpler style of task management. 

Todoist is better for individual task management

Todoist is a task management wizard, especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty of managing individual tasks and subtasks. As its name implies, to-dos are where Todoist truly shines, offering a sleek, streamlined approach to tracking daily duties and long-term habits.

Imagine waking up each morning to a neatly organized list of tasks for the day, including those pesky recurring tasks that, if forgotten, could throw a wrench in your well-oiled routine. Todoist excels in this domain, where adding, organizing, and tracking tasks is straightforward. Whether it's paying your monthly bills, scheduling daily workout sessions, or setting reminders for weekly team meetings, Todoist will do the trick.

A task list in Todoist

The magic of Todoist lies in its simplicity. Creating and adding tasks is as easy as telling Todoist what you need done. With natural language processing input, typing something as simple as "Water the plants every Sunday" magically schedules the task for you—no complicated setup or coding required. Trello, in contrast, doesn't have NLP for adding tasks or projects.

Natural language processing in Todoist

You can also nest subtasks within subtasks, which helps you keep track of your more complex to-dos. (In comparison, Trello can nest subtasks as checklists, but those only go one level deep.)

Todoist's karma points system gamifies your productivity, offering a fun twist to completing tasks. Each task you conquer rewards you with a cheery sound and points that level you up, contributing to your daily or weekly productivity goals. Todoist makes the mundane act of ticking off tasks just a little more rewarding, like having a personal cheerleader encouraging you to push through your to-do list, one task at a time.

Karma points in Todoist

And one of my favorite Todoist features is its two-way sync with Google Calendar. It automatically plops all my to-dos onto my calendar, helping me block time away for important tasks, and remove those calendar events when I complete the tasks.

Two-way sync with Google Calendar in Todoist
Google Calendar showing Todoist tasks

For individuals juggling a mix of daily chores, work-related tasks, and those important life admin to-dos that tend to slip through the cracks, Todoist offers a level of organization and flexibility that's hard to beat. Its focus on individual task management, coupled with the ability to handle recurring tasks with grace, makes it an indispensable tool for anyone looking to streamline their personal productivity.

Trello is better at managing multiple projects at scale

As much as Todoist excels at managing many tasks at once, Trello succeeds at managing many projects at once. Trello's board-based system isn't just about aesthetic appeal; it's a powerful framework that allows for unparalleled organization and visibility across multiple projects. 

Think of your Trello workspace as an office, and each board as its own team. Each board acts as a dedicated command center for a specific set of projects, complete with its own status lists and customizable labels. This means you can have a board for marketing campaigns, another for your CRM, one for engineering, and so on—each with its own detailed breakdown of tasks and stages. 

A workspace with multiple boards in Trello
A Trello board

What sets Trello apart in managing projects at scale is its ability to provide a bird's-eye view while still allowing for deep dives into the minutiae of each project. The ability to switch between boards with a simple click, drag and drop tasks between lists, and label cards for quick identification makes managing a portfolio of projects efficient and effective.

A colorful Trello board

Compared to Todoist, Trello offers a broader canvas for project oversight. It's designed for those moments when you're not just juggling tasks, but are in the thick of coordinating multiple projects, each with a unique set of deadlines, team members, and objectives. 

Trello makes it easier to collaborate with a team

Trello is all about teamwork. Trello's board-centric approach to project management is like setting up a digital war room for each project. Every member of the team has access to the same visual workspace, where the status of tasks, who's working on what, and what needs to be done next are all transparent. 

Adding team members to a board is a breeze, and once they're in, they can immediately start contributing without facing a steep learning curve. Whether it's adding members to cards, commenting on cards, attaching files, or moving tasks through different stages of completion, Trello's user-friendly interface makes it straightforward for everyone to contribute.

Sharing a board in Trello
Adding members to a card in Trello

That's not to say that Todoist is unusable for teams. In Todoist, you can create shared projects, making it easy for everyone to collaborate on shared tasks. While you may use Todoist to keep track of personal tasks like "Buy coffee beans," you can also have a project titled "Website Redesign," where tasks are shared among your team members. Each task within a shared project can be assigned to specific team members, making it clear who's responsible for what, reducing overlap, and ensuring accountability.

And both platforms have the ability to assign tasks, add comments to turn tasks into discussions, and track notifications for individual tasks. 

But Trello comes out ahead because it's oriented more to busy teams managing many different projects at once. Trello's Power-Ups (its term for integrations and add-ons) extend its collaborative capabilities even further. Whether you need to integrate with Slack for communication, Google Drive for document sharing, or even time tracking tools, Trello's ecosystem supports a wide range of over 200 integrations that can supercharge your team's productivity. In contrast, Todoist has about 60 built-in integrations. 

Trello has better built-in automation 

Trello's built-in automation tool streamlines routine processes within your boards. With simple rule-based triggers, actions, and scheduled commands, you can tailor automations to fit the unique workflow of your team. 

For example, when I move a card on my Trello board to "In Progress," I can automate adding a checklist to the card instead of manually adding that list. Or I can automatically assign all cards with a specific label to a specific team member. 

Setting up rules in Trello

You don't need to be a tech wizard to set up automation rules and buttons in Trello—all you have to do is choose your triggers and actions. This no-code accessibility ensures that all team members can contribute to optimizing the team's workflows.

Creating a rule for an automation in Trello

While you can automate tasks with Todoist by integrating with third-party services, Trello's native automation capabilities offer a more integrated and seamless experience. 

Of course, both Trello and Todoist integrate with Zapier, allowing you to connect them to thousands of other apps to automate your workflows. Here are some ideas for how to automate Trello and how to automate Todoist, or you can get started with one of these pre-built templates.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

Todoist vs. Trello: Which should you use?

The choice between Todoist and Trello doesn't really boil down to which tool is better, but which is better for you and your team. Todoist is more of a to-do list app and Trello is more of a project management tool, but they can both serve both purposes. And both tools offer the promise of enhanced productivity, organization, and collaboration, albeit via different approaches. 

Choose Todoist if:

  • You need to keep track of a bunch of to-dos all in one place

  • It's important to sync your tasks with your Google Calendar

  • You prefer managing tasks via simple, clean lists

  • You work solo or in a small team or family

Choose Trello if: 

  • You're juggling many different, complex projects or deliverables with multiple stages at once

  • You need to keep a big team or multiple teams on track

  • You have a tall technology stack and need to integrate your project management tool with all of your software

  • You need built-in automation rules to keep projects moving along

Whether you're drawn to the streamlined simplicity of Todoist or the customizability of Trello, the right tool is the one that aligns with your workflow, amplifies your efficiency, and makes the daily grind a little less grind-y.

Related reading:

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Hsing Tseng Tue, 12 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/trello-vs-todoist
The best Slack apps for your workspace in 2024 https://zapier.com/blog/best-slack-apps .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

I've worked fully remotely for years, using Slack to collaborate on projects, meet deadlines, and yes, share cute dog pics. I've seen firsthand how a well-run Slack server can translate a chaotic jumble of conversations into a streamlined, efficient workspace. One of the key differentiators? The most efficient Slack servers I've joined all use Slack apps. 

Slack apps aren't just about keeping the ship sailing smoothly; they also sprinkle some personality throughout our workdays. Whether it's automating reminders or starting random watercooler chats, Slack apps are unsung heroes in the quest for an engaging and productive work environment.

The best Slack apps for your company will depend on the apps you use outside of Slack and the kind of work you do on Slack. With that in mind, I'll share my favorite Slack apps, and hopefully some of them will work for you.

  • The best Slack apps for project management

  • The best Slack apps for productivity

  • The best Slack apps for communication

  • The best Slack apps for engagement and team building

  • The best Slack apps for fun

What is a Slack app?

A Slack app is software that integrates with the Slack platform and is designed to automate tasks, facilitate workflows, or enhance the overall user experience within a Slack workspace. Think of it as a virtual assistant that lives within your Slack channels, ready to jump into action at a command or trigger. 

Slack apps can perform a wide range of functions, from scheduling meetings and managing to-do lists to providing real-time updates from third-party tools like Google Drive or Salesforce. By handling repetitive tasks and streamlining communication, Slack bots save time and foster a more organized, interactive online work environment. 

How to add a Slack app to your workspace

Here's a quick step-by-step guide to adding a Slack app:

  1. Visit the Slack app directory to browse all the Slack apps available. (You can also find Slack bots to add from within your Slack workspace, by clicking Add Apps at the bottom of your sidebar.)

    The Slack app directory within Slack

  2. Install the app you want by clicking Add to Slack.

    Clicking Add app to add an app to Slack

  3. Configure your app settings within Slack. The bot will walk you through everything you need to do.

    Configuring the Asana app in Slack

The best Slack apps at a glance

Slack has more than 2,000 apps in its app directory. I, of course, haven't tested every single one of them, so while I'm calling these the "best," keep in mind that there are thousands of options available—if you use a SaaS app, it probably has a Slack app. (And if it doesn't, you can connect it using Zapier.)

Category

Standout features

Trello

Project management

Create, update, and receive notifications for Trello cards within Slack

Asana

Project management

Task creation, assignment, and due date setting within Slack

ClickUp

Project management

Task creation, project updates, and task status updates within Slack

Google Calendar

Productivity

Daily agenda view, meeting reminders, response to meeting invites within Slack; automated Slack status updates

Google Drive

Productivity

Notifications about changes to documents, comments, and shared files in Slack

Zapier

Productivity

Automates workflows between Slack and thousands of other apps and services

Zoom

Communication

Start or join video meetings directly from Slack; simplified scheduling and joining of calls

Loom

Communication

Share video messages asynchronously within Slack channels; record screen or webcam for detailed messages

Simple Poll

Engagement and team building

Create simple polls within Slack channels; gather opinions and make decisions together

Polly

Engagement and team building

Create complex surveys and polls, measure team sentiment, and conduct check-ins or quizzes

Donut

Engagement and team building

Pair team members for virtual coffee breaks, lunches, or mentorship sessions; spark casual conversations

Slackbot

Engagement and team building

Customizable for various purposes

BirthdayBot

Fun

Automatically notifies about upcoming birthdays; posts celebratory messages in Slack channels

GIPHY

Fun

Brings animated GIFs into Slack channels; adds light-heartedness and spontaneity to team interactions


The best Slack apps for project management

The best Slack app for project management is going to be the one for the project management tool your team already uses, so definitely start there.

Slack apps bring the power of your project management tool right into the heart of your Slack workspace, keeping updates, tasks, and notifications flowing smoothly between the two platforms. 

Here, I'll dive into three that I've had personal experience with: Trello, Asana, and ClickUp. Each of these apps integrates seamlessly with Slack.

Trello

If you visualize project tasks as a board of moving parts, the Trello app for Slack is a match made in heaven. It allows you to create new cards, update existing ones, and receive notifications directly within Slack. Imagine discussing a project in a Slack channel and being able to create a Trello card from a message on the fly without switching windows or tabs. 

The Trello Slack app

Asana

The Asana Slack app allows you to easily create tasks, assign them to team members, and set due dates directly from your Slack conversations. You can also link a project to a specific Slack channel, which posts project updates directly to that channel in real time, keeping everyone on the same page without leaving Slack.

The Asana Slack app

ClickUp

The ClickUp Slack app allows you to create tasks, add them to specific projects, and even update task statuses without ever leaving your Slack workspace. You can also convert Slack messages into actionable tasks, or leave comments on tasks directly from Slack. 

The ClickUp Slack app
Image source: ClickUp

The best Slack bots for productivity

Slack can enhance your productivity—or totally drain it. These Slack apps integrate into your day-to-day work life, acting like your personal assistant and making all your workflows easier. The best Slack bots for productivity are the ones that fit perfectly into your existing routines, so be picky about which ones you choose.

From my experience, these three Slack apps are exceptionally valuable in keeping me on track and making it easier to get things done quicker. 

Google Calendar

The Google Calendar app for Slack keeps you on schedule without leaving Slack. The bot helps you start every day on the right foot by giving you a view of your daily agenda right within Slack, and it pings you with reminders when it's meeting time. 

The Google Calendar agenda in Slack

A Google Calendar event in Slack

You can even respond to meeting invites and join your calls all directly from within Slack, without opening a new Google Calendar window. 

The Google Calendar bot is particularly useful for teams working across different time zones, as it simplifies scheduling and keeps everyone aligned. It also automatically updates your Slack status to "In a meeting" when you're occupied, so anyone messaging you knows that you're unavailable for the moment.

Google Drive

For teams that rely heavily on Google Drive, the Google Drive Slack app is a must-have. The bot notifies you about changes to documents, comments, and shared files directly in Slack, making collaboration smoother. You can even set up notifications for specific folders or documents, ensuring you stay updated on the need-to-knows for critical projects. It essentially bridges the gap between your files and your conversations, making it easier to share updates and get feedback with less context switching.

The Google Drive app in Slack showing a Google Docs comment notification

If you use a different file management system, like Box or Dropbox, they have Slack bots too. It's always best to use the bot that integrates with how you already get work done.

Zapier

Zapier takes Slack productivity to another level by connecting your workspace with thousands of other apps and services. With the Zapier Slack app, you can automate workflows between Slack and all the other tools your team uses, including CRMs, email marketing platforms, and project management tools. Whether it's automatically creating Slack messages based on activity in other apps or posting updates from Slack to other platforms, Zapier makes it possible to automate almost any task. 

Learn more about how to automate Slack with Zapier, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Zapier is the leader in workflow automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Use interfaces, data tables, and logic to build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

The best Slack bots for communication

Zoom

The Zoom app for Slack is like an insta-teleportation device for your team, bringing everyone together with the click of a button, no matter where they are in the world. With this integration, you can start or join video meetings directly from your Slack workspace. It simplifies the process of scheduling and joining calls, making it easier to move discussions from text to face-to-face conversations. Just type a simple slash command (/zoom), and your meeting can begin.

The Zoom app in Slack

Loom

The Loom Slack app takes a different approach to communication by allowing you to share video messages asynchronously, instead of typing out long, detailed text messages. This bot is particularly useful for explaining complex ideas, providing detailed feedback, or just adding a personal touch to your messages. 

With the Loom integration in Slack, you can easily record your screen, yourself, or both, and share these videos directly within your channels or private messages. This not only saves time, but also adds a layer of personal interaction that text can't always necessarily convey. It's perfect for those moments when you need to show rather than tell.

The best Slack apps for engagement and team building

Digital workspaces require as much team building as in-person ones, if not more. The key to a vibrant, inclusive, and collaborative team environment lies in all those little interactions that happen every day. Slack apps designed for engagement and culture can play a pivotal role in nurturing these interactions, turning a collection of remote individuals into a close-knit community. From gathering feedback with polls to celebrating achievements and facilitating casual meet-ups, these bots help keep the team spirit alive and kicking. 

Simple Poll

Simple Poll offers an effortless way to create polls within your Slack channels, enabling teams to make decisions together, gather opinions, or just have fun with light-hearted questions. Whether you're deciding on the next team outing, choosing a project name, or simply finding out everyone's favorite pizza topping, Simple Poll makes it easy to engage everyone's voice. 

Simple Poll in Slack

Polly

Polly takes team engagement a step further by allowing for more complex surveys and polls, complete with analytics and insights. You can use Polly to measure team sentiment, conduct stand-ups or regular check-ins, or even run fun quizzes to break the monotony of the workday. With its customizable templates and scheduled polls, Polly helps managers and team leaders stay connected with their team's pulse and ensure that everyone feels valued.

Polly in Slack

Donut

Donut strengthens team bonds by pairing team members for virtual coffee breaks, lunches, or mentorship sessions. These randomized pairings encourage casual intros and connections that might not happen in the usual course of work, especially in a remote setting. It can also spark fun watercooler conversations, asking everyone to chime in on a question-of-the-day that's not strictly work-related.

Slackbot

You can tailor Slack's built-in Slackbot for any purpose, like helping to promote inclusive language in your work environment. All you have to do is designate specific words as triggers for Slackbot to remind teammates to use more inclusive language, and it will chime in whenever necessary.

The best Slack bots for fun

Amid deadlines and meetings, it can be easy to forget that work can also be a source of joy and laughter. Injecting a bit of fun into the workday is crucial for keeping spirits high and fostering a positive, engaging work culture. Slack apps like BirthdayBot and GIPHY are perfect for this, adding a layer of light-heartedness and spontaneity to your team's interactions. 

BirthdayBot

Remembering and celebrating team members' birthdays in a remote work environment can be challenging, but BirthdayBot makes it a breeze. It automatically notifies your team about upcoming birthdays and posts celebratory messages in a team channel on the day of. By adding a personal touch, BirthdayBot offers a simple yet effective way to show team members they're appreciated—not just for their work, but as individuals.

An upcoming birthday alert from BirthdayBot in Slack
A BirthdayBot message in Slack

GIPHY

Everyone loves a good GIF. The GIPHY Slack app brings animated GIFs into your Slack channels. Whether it's celebrating a win, offering support, or just sharing a laugh, a well-timed GIF can lighten the mood and strengthen team bonds. With the /giphy slash command, you can search for and post a GIF for any occasion.

Using GIPHY in Slack

Build your own Slack bot

It's unlikely you won't find what you need in Slack's massive app directory. But sometimes you need something a little more bespoke. That's where the magic of Zapier comes into play, allowing you to build your own customizable Slack bot.

With Zapier, you can create a Slack bot that does exactly what you need, the way you need it done. Imagine a bot that can pull analytics from your sales platform into a Slack channel every morning, or one that automatically organizes project submissions into a shared folder and notifies the team via Slack. Or you could create a chatbot that integrates with ChatGPT to bring the power of AI to your workspace. 

The goal should always be to make technology work for you, not the other way around. The right apps can transform your Slack channels from mere communication tools into dynamic hubs of productivity, engagement, and, yes, even joy. And with the power to customize your own bots through Zapier, the potential to elevate your team's Slack experience is limited only by your imagination.

Related reading:

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Hsing Tseng Tue, 12 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/best-slack-apps
How to copy text from an image or video on Windows https://zapier.com/blog/windows-copy-text-from-images .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

Way too much of the internet is screenshots from other web pages. This is annoying for all kinds of reasons, sure, but the worst issue is that you can't easily copy text from an image. 

There are solutions out there. Apple devices—including iPhones, iPads, and Macs—allow you to extract text from images using the Live Text feature, but there's no built-in way to do this in Windows.

An app called Text Grab offers a solution: it's an easy way to copy text from an image. The app uses the optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities built into Windows to copy any text that shows up on your screen, regardless of whether it's in an image, a video, or a presentation during a Zoom call. If there's text on the screen, you can copy it. 

To get started, download the app from the Microsoft Store ($9.99) or GitHub (free). Then follow the steps below because it can be a little confusing to get started with. 

How to use Text Grab to extract text from an image on Windows

When you launch Text Grab for the first time, you'll be asked which mode you want: 

  • Full-Screen

  • Grab Frame

  • Edit Text Window

  • Quick Simple Lookup

The four options for coping text from images in Windows using Text Grab

This is confusing because only two of them, Full-Screen and Grab Frame, are actually related to grabbing text. The other two options are best thought of as supplemental tools. So let's get started by breaking down the two ways to copy text from images. 

Full-Screen 

Full-Screen allows you to select a section of the screen and instantly copy all text from it. Just launch the program, and you'll see a bar at the top of the screen. 

The full screen option in Text Grab to copy text from images in Windows

Configure the options, if you want, or just use your mouse to highlight any area of the screen. Text Grab will scan that region of the screen, look for text, and copy it to the clipboard. That's it. You can just Ctrl + V to get the text where you want it.

Grab Frame

The other option, Grab Frame, lets you work on the fly a little bit. Instead of selecting a region and instantly sending text to the clipboard, you've got a window you can use to frame any area of the screen. All text will be underlined, showing you what the software has recognized as text. 

The Grab Frame option in Text Grab to copy text from images in Windows

You can use the search bar to quickly find a specific word, and even edit things before you copy the text. 

I found this a useful way to copy data from tables that are in an image—I just framed the table, clicked the table option, and copied. From there, it's easy to paste into Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. 

Use whichever of these two tools you like best, as they both serve more or less the same purpose.

Supplemental tools

The third option presented in the launch menu, Edit Text Window, allows you to edit text in a simple editor instead of just copying it to the clipboard. This gives you a chance to correct any weird formatting issues. You can send text from either of the two previous modes over to the edit text window instead of to the clipboard, if that's what you prefer. 

The edit text option in Text Grab

The final tool, Quick Simple Lookup, gives you something like a snippet tool, allowing you to save a collection of things you tend to repeat. You can search for and paste those things from this tool.

The Quick Simple Lookup tool in Text Grab

This has nothing to do with OCR, really—it's just a place to store information you tend to paste a lot. 

Text Grab settings

The Text Grab settings allow you to choose which of the four windows outlined above you see first after launching the application. You can also set keyboard shortcuts for each of these modes and decide whether the application should start when Windows does. I encourage you to play around with the settings if you'll be using the app a lot—press all the buttons, and see what works.

The Windows Text Extractor option

Text Grab is one of those tools that feels like it should be included with Windows. Part of it is, at least sort of: the Full-Screen mode is offered in Microsoft Power Toys under the name "Text Extractor." If you only want the full-screen mode, I suggest trying that instead—it's literally made by the same person. Text Grab, though, gives you a little more flexibility, so I still recommend installing it if you need to copy text from an image in Windows.

Related reading:

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Justin Pot Mon, 11 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/windows-copy-text-from-images
How to create a report in Salesforce https://zapier.com/blog/how-to-create-report-salesforce .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

Salesforce is a customer relationship management tool tons of people use to manage sales and report on performance. Since creating reports is an integral part of reporting, you'd think the powers that be would make it pretty straightforward. 

If you're here right now, that's because, for whatever reason, they did not.

While it may not be obvious, the good news is that it's still pretty simple, which is the next best thing. So if you've been struggling to make the reports you need, here's how to create a report in Salesforce.

  1. Open the Reports tab and start a new report

  2. Adjust your report and run it

  3. Create a summary report by grouping rows

  4. Create a matrix report by grouping columns

  5. Add a chart

Types of reports in Salesforce

Salesforce reports break down into standard reports and custom reports. Standard reports are based on Salesforce's existing templates you can plug and play, while custom reports are ones you build from scratch based on specific data parameters. This walkthrough is for standard reports.

As you start a report and add more complexity to it, you'll find that these reports break down further into four formats:

  • Tabular: These spreadsheet-like reports are the simplest, displaying your data as a series of lines in sortable rows and columns.

  • Summary: When you apply conditional details to your tabular report rows, you get a summary report. This type allows you to segment data groups with charts and separate calculations.

  • Matrix: A step up from summary reports, these reports allow you to tabulate a more complex matrix with groupings in both rows and columns.

  • Joined: When you need combinations of all the above, joined reports allow you to separate different report types into their own blocks to compare within the same interface.

Salesforce report tutorial

If the report types above sound abstract, you'll see what I mean as I walk through the Salesforce reporting steps. Since they build in complexity, I'll touch on (almost) each one as I go. (I'm skipping joined reports: while many of the steps are similar, there's also enough complexity involved that it's just a bit outside the bounds of this general guide to building reports in Salesforce.)

Step 1: Open the Reports tab and start a new report

Screenshot of the reports dashboard in Salesforce

From any dashboard, you should see a Reports tab in the top nav. From the main Reports page, you'll see a New Report button.

This page also lists a bunch of Salesforce's preset report types. For example purposes, I'll start one from scratch, but you could also just run one of those by clicking the name or exploring the options in the dropdown caret on the right. The sidebar also lists previous reports you've used, created, or saved, which you can further organize into folders.

Screenshot of how to create a new report in Salesforce

This will bring up a window where you can pick from basic report types. You can also adjust which objects and fields to include, but for now, I'll keep this Leads report to default presets. 

Hit Start Report to… start the report.

Step 2: Adjust your report and run it

Screenshot of how to add presets for your data in the report

When your new report opens up, you'll see a skeleton with no data. In the left panel, there's an Outline tab where you can add or delete the fields that will become columns. For a Leads report, by default, this includes things like first name, title, and lead source. To simplify, I'll X out a few. (If you edit these, you may have to hit Refresh to update the preview.)

You'll also see a Filters tab next to the Outline tab. Here, you can change parameters for your data, like lead creation date, leads by owner, and lead status. I'll leave these on the default.

When you've got the presets you want, you can use the buttons at the top to save the report for later use, run the report, or both. Hit Run when you're ready.

Screenshot of a basic tabular report in Salesforce, including fields for first and last name, company/account, email address, and lead owner

If all you want to do is run a basic tabular report, you're done. You can save it, export it, search through it, or sort it. If you want to add a bit more complexity, move on to step 3.

Step 3: Create a summary report by grouping rows

Click the Edit button to return to the report editing interface. In the Groups field on the left nav, under GROUP ROWS, I'm going to type "Company / Account" to create subgroups by account associated with each lead. 

Screenshot of how to create groups in the Salesforce report

You can also group by more than one field, and it doesn't have to be included in your existing report—things like lead owner, rating, number of employees, location, and email bounce reason.

When you've set your groupings, hit Run

Screenshot of a summary report in Salesforce after adding groups

This is what my particular summary report looks like. You can edit yours further, continue sorting it, add a chart, or incorporate still more complexity in the next step.

Step 4: Create a matrix report by grouping columns

Let's take things up a notch by grouping both columns and rows. Hit the Edit button to go back to the report editing page. From there, you can type additional grouping fields into the GROUP COLUMNS field below where you added rows to group. I'm going to add "Lead Owner" to mine. Hit Run when you're ready.

Screenshot of how to group columns by lead owner in Salesforce

Your matrix report should now combine groupings across horizontal and vertical axes. It'll even show you convenient totals across rows and columns, which you can see by scrolling to the right (if needed) and to the bottom.

Screenshot of a matrix report in Salesforce with grouped columns and rows

Step 5: Add a chart

Within that same report page, you can also render your data as a chart by clicking the Toggle Chart icon that looks like a little pie chart at the top. This view will populate at the top of the report above your table. 

Screenshot of a bar chart with data from the Salesforce report

Curiously, the pie chart's default view is a bar graph. But if you're not into that, you can click the little Settings icon (the little gear icon above the chart). Here, you'll find additional chart options to suit your data analysis tastes, like column, donut, or line.

Screenshot of the same data from the bar chart in a line chart

Scheduling Salesforce reports

If you want to run standard reports on a regular basis, you can schedule them as well.

  1. Return to the Reports page. 

  2. Find the report type you want.

  3. Click the dropdown caret on the right side.

  4. Click Subscribe.

  5. Set preferences for timing, delivery time, recipients, attachments, and conditions.

  6. Hit Save.

Screenshot showing how to schedule a report in Salesforce

Once you set your subscription up, you'll get those reports delivered to any preset recipients whenever you want them.

Custom Salesforce reporting options

More advanced users with custom reporting permissions can also create their own custom report types. I'm not going to dig into those here, but here's what you can expect from Salesforce custom reports:

  • Preset the columns you want your reports to open with.

  • Report on up to four objects at once.

  • Pull fields into the report from related objects.

  • Apply advanced section and field customization, sorting, and inclusions.

  • Report on both "with" and "without" relationships.

How to create a report in Salesforce with automation

Nobody loves compiling reports, except the most utterly, painfully Type A of us (which you might be if you're reading this [I might be borderline myself]). But now that you know how to create a report in Salesforce, it's time to streamline things with Salesforce automations.

You can use Zapier's no-code automations to link your favorite apps to Salesforce to do things like add new Typeform, Facebook ads, and Webflow leads to your Salesforce dashboard. Learn more about how to automate Salesforce, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Zapier is the leader in workflow automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Use interfaces, data tables, and logic to build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

Related reading:

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Bryce Emley Mon, 11 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/how-to-create-report-salesforce
19 Asana features to start using right now https://zapier.com/blog/hidden-asana-features .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

If you don't already love Asana, you might soon. The task and project management app has everything from advanced organizational features to smiling pups (for real!)—and the basic version is free for individual users. 

But Asana doesn't just need to be a basic electronic to-do list. I've been using Asana to keep my freelance business on track for a couple of years now and discovered there's even more to love once you dig into its lesser-known features and capabilities.

Asana tips for productivity

1. Try video messaging in Asana

One of the toughest parts of project management is communication—sometimes, it can feel almost impossible to get your point across, especially if you're working asynchronously. Who hasn't spent time leaving long, complicated descriptions or comments on tasks? 

With Asana, you're not limited to text: you can record videos natively and add them to tasks. Simply click on the record icon to add a video to any task description, comment, or message. You can set the video to record your screen, your own camera, or both. Preview your recording, then click Add video—it'll be instantly viewable right in Asana. Plus, Asana automatically transcribes your videos, making them accessible (and searchable) for everyone.

Video messaging in Asana

2. Add Asana task dependencies

You can mark dependencies directly on a task, so you don't have to track when it's your turn to get started. Asana will send you a notification once all other dependencies have been completed.

To create task dependencies, go to the task you want, and click Add Dependencies above the task description field. Then type the name of the task that precedes it—a dropdown will appear, and you can select the task. The current task will now show as blocked until that other task is completed. Or you can click the Blocked by text and change it to Blocking, based on the direction of the dependency. Multiple tasks can be dependent on one task, and a single task can be dependent on multiple tasks.

Task dependencies in Asana

Task dependencies keep your to-do lists prioritized while moving the work forward efficiently—and that's something I highly recommend.

3. Assign Asana tasks to multiple projects

Cross-indexing lets you assign single tasks to up to 20 projects—without duplicating them—and show different display information for each user based on where it's indexed. This way, you don't have to track multiple identical tasks in different places. Cross the task off as done in one list, and it will be updated in all the other lists.

There are a couple ways to cross-index a task. You can open a task and click Add to project under the Projects section of the task details. Alternatively, you can open the additional actions dropdown (marked by a ), then select Add task to another project. To do this even faster, you can use the keyboard shortcut Tab + P.

Whichever route you take, you'll then need to select the project (or projects) you want to add the task to. If you're an administrator, you'll see a high-level project with a complete list of connected tasks and subtasks, kind of like a spider web workflow. This view helps you make sure things within your team are moving smoothly, and if not, where the problems are so you can help.

Adding task to another project in Asana

You can also cross-index subtasks:

  1. Open the subtask.

  2. Click the overflow button in the upper left-hand corner.

  3. Choose Add to Project (or use the Tab + P shortcut).

The subtask will then show up in the project(s) where you placed it, but it will also still be inside its parent task. You can spider web like this pretty much endlessly in Asana.

4. Copy Asana tasks and assign to other team members

What if you do need to duplicate a task? Maybe you need every team member to fill out a form or respond with comments on a document or review and approve something. Asana makes it easy to copy tasks and assign them to multiple people.

To copy a completed task, right-click on the task and select Duplicate task from the menu. You'll have the option to modify a few fields on the newly duplicated task, like keeping the current assignee or removing them.

If the task is in a project, all the copies will be too by default, in the same section. If it's a subtask, all copies will appear in the parent task by default. This is a real time-saver: instead of recreating the same task for multiple people, just create a copy for them.

5. Create private teams in Asana

In Asana, there are three kinds of teams:

  • Public to Organization teams are accessible by team and organization members, and people can request to join them. 

  • Membership by Request teams are accessible by team members only, but people can still "see" that they exist and request to join them. 

  • Private teams are accessible only by team members and can't be seen by outsiders. No one can request to join them.

Private teams are great for projects with sensitive information in them, such as financial details, intellectual property, planning the office holiday party, and other data you just don't want getting around.

To access team settings, go to the Teams section of the sidebar and click the team's name. Then click the dropdown arrow next to the team name toward the top, and select Edit team settings.

Editing team settings in Asana

Under Team privacy, select Private, and then save by choosing Update Team.

6. Unlock the goodest doggos (and more) in Asana's Hacks tab

The Hacks tab is where experimental Asana features live—it's a magical place that you should check frequently. This is where you go to ensure you'll see cute dogs (Tab + V) and fluffy cats (Tab + B) on your dashboard when you need a boost. 

Dogs all over the Asana interface

Other current (and slightly more serious) hacks include:

  • Recurring Tasks in Last Section of My Tasks: Make recurring tasks reappear in the last section of My Tasks upon completion.

  • Disable Notifications for Tasks Starting & Due Today: Reduce clutter in your inbox for tasks due or starting each day.

To turn on hacks, go to My Settings and select the Hacks tab. There you can enable hacks using the toggle. Then reload to apply the new settings.

The Hacks options in Asana

7. Turn emails into Asana tasks

You can create tasks by sending emails to Asana. Here's how Asana knows what you're saying: 

  • An email to x@mail.asana.com creates a task in My Tasks. 

  • Anyone cc'ed on the message gets added to the task as a collaborator.

  • The email subject will become the name of the task, and the email body will be the task description

  • Any email attachments will be attached to the task.

Want to go deeper? You can also send emails to create tasks within any project in Asana because every Asana project has a unique email address. To find the right address, choose the project from the sidebar, click on the Project actions dropdown arrow, and select Add Tasks by Email.

Even easier? Use Zapier to send your emails to Asana automatically. Zapier lets you auto-forward your Gmail emails based on a specific label. For example, if you manage a lot of job applications, you can set a Zap to send any emails labeled "job application" to your Asana tasks.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

8. Create recurring tasks in Asana

If you have a task that repeats, don't waste your time creating it over and over again. When you create (or edit) a task, click on the due date. You'll see the repeat option below the calendar (it looks like a looped arrow). When you click on that icon, you can choose whether to repeat weekly, monthly, yearly, periodically, or at whatever custom frequency you want.

To stop repeating, either remove the due date from the task or click Repeat and choose Never.

Create a recurring task in Asana

9. Focus on your tasks with the Asana desktop app

If you're like me, you have dozens of tabs open at any given time. But when you need to power through some work, those tabs can pull your focus from what's most important. 

Minimize distractions by working outside your browser with Asana's desktop app. The desktop app has all the functionality of the web-based app, but it's designed to help you focus on deep work. 

10. Add more details to Asana tasks with custom fields

Custom fields let you provide additional key information to view at a glance. You might use custom fields to add information about project stage, priority, cost, or anything else that's specific to your team. It kind of feels like adding color-coded tags to everything—and it also helps with searchability.

There are two types of custom fields you can create: 

  • Fields specific to a single project or portfolio

  • Fields that are reusable across your organization

To create a custom field, click Customize > Add field. Enter the title, select the type of field, and add a description. If you want to apply the field to the whole organization, select Add to Organization field library. Otherwise, the field will remain specific to your project.

You should be able to see your custom fields in two places: in your right pane's task details and as columns in the main pane's task list. If something has more than one field, you'll see them all in the right pane details.

11. Use Asana advanced search

Search views populate lists of tasks, projects, or messages based on your search criteria. You can use these to find any specific group of conversations or tasks. 

Just click in the Search field at the top of the screen and select Advanced search in the right-hand corner of that empty search bar. Once you're there, you'll see all of the advanced criteria. Click +Add filter to add even more parameters.

Asana advanced search

Once you've got your results, you can Sort to reorder the results or click View to change whether you view results as a list or as a calendar.

12. Color-code Asana assignments with projects

I create a different project for each client, so I can visually organize tasks by client on my calendar—and each client is a different color. This is a great way to track client work (or multiple projects) from one view instead of toggling between individual tasks and project calendars.

  1. Create a project (or open an existing one). 

  2. Right-click on the project name in the sidebar.

  3. Click Set color & icon.

  4. Select a color and icon for your project.

Color-coding projects in Asana

Tip: If you have custom fields, you can color-code those too. For instance, you can use red for "on hold," yellow for "in review," and green for "complete." This gives you (and any collaborators) the ability to easily scan information by color.  

13. Filter your Asana list view 

You can organize your lists the way you like them with a variety of filtering options. You might want to do it automatically based on criteria like due date or assignee, or you can order the lists manually with a super satisfying drag and drop.

For preset sorting options, go to the list view, and use the icons at the top-right to sort your tasks. 

  • All tasks lets you filter by all tasks, incomplete tasks, or completed tasks. Bonus: showing your completed tasks gives you an instant progress report.

  • Filter lets you quickly sort by "Just my tasks," "Due this week," "Due next week," or custom filters.

  • Sort lets you sort by the due date, assignee, likes, alphabetical order, and creation time.

  • Group by lets you group tasks by assignee, priority, and more.

  • Hide allows you to hide specific task elements, like due dates.

Filter the list view in Asana

Play around with the views and filters that work for you—you might find a view that reveals important project details and tracks progress quickly. 

Tip: Click Save layout as default under the project dropdown arrow to save the project view for anyone working on that project.

14. Use Asana keyboard shortcuts to navigate

Speed up your workflow and streamline your navigation with handy keyboard shortcuts for Asana. There are too many to list in this article, so get the full cheat sheet here.

15. Stay on track with Asana project status updates

Use status updates to keep your projects on track and quickly give context to other collaborators. 

Project status updates in Asana

Click on your project, and select the Overview tab. On the right, you'll see a window that says "What's the status?" Here you can mark Green: On track, Orange: At risk, or Red: Off Track. When you click on a status, an update window will appear where you can fill out details on the progress.  

Project status update details in Asana

Project collaborators are notified each time you log a status update, so no one is out of the loop. You can also set a reminder to update a project's status every Friday—just toggle Remind me to update every Friday at the top of the update page.

16. Use the Asana Chrome extension

Asana has a whole host of extensions and integrations that make it even more powerful, but the one that you don't want to miss is the official Asana Chrome extension that lets you add tasks quickly as you browse the web. The name of the page becomes the task name, with the link as a note. Add a description if you need one.

17. Get answers to key questions with Asana Intelligence 

Ever wish you had a personal assistant who could keep you up to date on key projects? Yeah, me too. 

That's where Asana's AI feature (cheekily named Asana Intelligence) comes in. Instead of searching through projects, tasks, and comments to identify the status of crucial work, just ask AI. Asana Intelligence will analyze information from all the relevant fields and return with an answer.

Asking Asana questions about your projects

As you can see in the screenshot above, however, this feature relies on there being enough information in Asana about what you're asking. So if you're a lightweight Asana user—or just haven't added all your projects yet—it might not be more helpful than asking a human.

To access Asana Intelligence, just click Ask AI in the top-right corner of any project.

The Ask AI button in Asana

18. Use AI to craft smarter goals

Project management is both an art and a science: the science is in mapping out the path to achieving your goals, and the art is in deciding what goals to set. 

AI can also help you with that second part. By analyzing all the work being tracked in Asana, Asana Intelligence can suggest reasonable, actionable goals. This feature is a great help if you're feeling overwhelmed by work or if you don't know where to start.

AI setting goals in Asana

19. Automate Asana

If Asana is your primary information hub, you can make it even more powerful by connecting it to all the other apps you use at work. With Asana's Zapier integrations, you can automatically turn form responses into tasks, connect Asana to your calendar, and keep your team in the loop, wherever they spend their time.

Learn more about how to automate Asana, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Do more with Asana

There's so much more to Asana than many users know. Remember these dynamic, overlooked features to get more out of Asana and to really optimize your task and project management workflow. And when you get more done, you can reward yourself with more happy doggos.

This article was originally published by Karla Lant in October 2017. The most recent update, with contributions from Hannah Herman, was in March 2024.

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Brittney Thompson Mon, 11 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/hidden-asana-features
Meet your annual goals with consistent quarterly and monthly check-ins https://zapier.com/blog/quarterly-monthly-check-ins .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

How are those annual goals going? If you're anything like me, you love planning but don't love all the work it takes to put it down on paper. But for an annual plan to be successful, you need some good check-ins along the way to keep you—and your goals—on track. Here's how I do it.

Build quarterly benchmarks into your annual plan

It's going to be a pain to try to measure how you're doing with your goals if you haven't already set up a system to track progress. Every time you make a goal, you want to have a clear idea of how to achieve it from start to finish and what progress looks like.

Assuming you've already started working toward your goals, going back and adding in more details and setting benchmarks is a great way to ensure you meet them. Personally, I like the SMART approach to creating goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound.

I tend to do all my annual planning in January each year. I have templates for reviews and reflections, and my annual goals match the priorities I've identified in my annual review. Here's how I break them down:

  • Goal: I name the goal, being as specific as possible, and give myself a timeframe, usually by end of year, during a certain quarter, or from X to Y quarter (Specific, Achievable, and Timebound).

  • Why/Results: I share why this goal is important to my business/career and what exactly I want to achieve within the timeframe I've set (Relevant and Measurable).

  • How/By: This section is usually a free write of ideas for how to meet my goal and/or the steps to get there, which also helps me ultimately decide if I'm taking on too much work (Specific and Achievable).

Now let's look at an example:

Example
  • Annual Goal: Develop a consistent blogging schedule for The Chronic Worker: 2x/month from Q2-Q4 on topics outside of personal mental health updates.

  • Why/Ideal Result: To begin exploring a new business model, build a portfolio and following in my niche, and get into the habit of writing 3x/month (2 blogs, 1 newsletter) or 18 posts and 9 newsletters.

  • How/By: Create a content plan for each quarter (1 Q&A profile and 1 industry/personal/how-to piece a month), schedule in writing time or find writers to collab with for guest posts, and create a post template with space for metadata and promotional copy. Keep a running list of ideas and Include audio versions of each article that can be published on podcasting platforms for further reach.

One Zapier writer has their own detailed system for building out goals that are easy to track.

If you want to get better at planning and meeting your goals, just remember that it's an ongoing process. Sometimes, I know exactly what I want to achieve in my head and am too excited to get it down on paper. Having a system like the SMART approach forces me to look at my goals more objectively and set better parameters.

Create your quarterly benchmark

Now that you know what info you need from your goals, you can identify that quarterly benchmark. My ideal result for my blogging goal is 18 blog posts and 9 newsletters, or 27 posts total from April through December. 

Breaking that down into quarters, that means in Q2, Q3, and Q4, I'd want to publish 9 posts total per quarter. That's a clear quarterly benchmark that's easily measured and tracked and will help me achieve my overall goal.

What about goals that are less easy to track?

Another goal of mine is to generate 50% of my freelance income this year from Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI)-related work. Since I freelance on top of a full-time job and my freelance income goals are fairly low this year, this is achievable for me. But how would I create quarterly benchmarks for this?

First, I could break this goal down into quarterly steps, e.g., "By Q2, I will have earned X amount in DEAI work". I could also assign this goal to one or more quarters, e.g., "In Q2 and Q3 I will pursue only DEAI projects totaling Y amount." There are a lot of different ways to benchmark your goals, and you may have to experiment a bit to figure out what works best for you.

Tip: Don't stop at quarterly progress! To really stay on track, you'll want to break down each goal even further into monthly actions.

Going back to my blog content writing goal, let's look at the list of actions I've suggested for myself:

  • Create a quarterly content plan 

  • Schedule in writing time

  • Find other writers to collab for guest posts

  • Create a blog post template

  • Keep a running list of article ideas that come up as I write

Now I can take these to-dos, fill any gaps, prioritize them, and assign those tasks to myself. I have health issues on top of a full-time job, so I prefer to keep things more flexible by assigning monthly actions weekly based on my energy and schedule.

Set monthly and quarterly check-ins

Every good business reviews and plans regularly, and individual workers should be no different. Set regular planning time in your calendar to look over the past month and quarter and see how you did.

This check-in should cover goals, but also just how each month and quarter went. Why is this important? Because when you evaluate goals and review your results (more on that later), this will give you the context to say "Yes, this worked" or "No, it didn't."

I've been struggling with depression a lot recently, so much so that I've had to revisit some of my annual goals. One that's no longer working for me right now is that blog content goal. I plan to keep writing, but the 27 posts I was hoping for are no longer as realistic.

Tip: Make reviews and planning even easier on yourself by combining your monthly and quarterly check-ins. 

I try to set aside time each month for reviews and planning, usually during the last or first week of the month. I use the same template for monthly reviews and planning and quarterly reviews, both because it's convenient and because all the data is there. Essentially, my monthly and quarterly reviews are the same thing, with a few end-of-quarter reflection questions tacked on. Feel free to check out my template and try it for yourself.

An example of a monthly check-in doc

My monthly/quarterly review includes:

  • A summary of what happened each month

  • Project notes

  • My systems

  • What I did or didn't do well

  • Ideal work situation and how I'm working toward that

More recently, I've added a review question for my goals to track my progress as well. At the end of each quarter, I do a wrap-up that includes highlights, lowlights, goals, systems, and final reflections. 

Now, keep in mind that this exercise isn't really numbers-based. For example, I also have a separate spreadsheet that helps me keep track of my income, clients, assignments, and project types for each quarter.

Here are some other templates to try—and to adapt to your own needs.

Re-evaluate your goals regularly

Times and needs change, and so will your goals. Just be careful about letting them shift in the wrong direction.

2023 was a bad planning year for me. I started by setting reasonable income and business goals for the year. Then, after landing a big project at the beginning of the year, I found myself writing over my goals, making them bigger and bigger to match my new priorities. Unfortunately, I was way too ambitious, and after some serious burnout and a lot of personal stuff took over, I ended up backing off of business planning completely. 

There's nothing wrong with switching things up to match your circumstances, but be cautious. It's very easy to get excited and overly ambitious, and then lose motivation if your situation changes again.

When you do your quarterly review and planning, take a hard look at each of your goals:

  • How do you feel about the goal itself and the time you have to accomplish it? Would you change anything? (Specific, Timebound)

  • What about the results you want? How much progress have you made and how much is there left to do? Can you still reasonably accomplish them in the time you have left? (Achievable, Measurable, Timebound)

  • Check your "why." Does it still hold true? Does it still fit your personal direction, or has it shifted? (Relevant)

  • Look back at your notes from the last quarter. Is trying to achieve your goals negatively affecting your life in other ways?

Review your results

This is something a lot of us forget. It's easy to keep going with goals because they're there and you still want to meet them. But are they actually producing results? After all, we set goals to accomplish something. If you aren't getting the right—or any—results from the goals you've set, check if that goal is ultimately serving you or not.

What you consider to be a result will really depend on you. It could be quantitative or qualitative.

Quantitative results have numbers attached: you gained X more clients, saved Y amount of time, or earned $ more. Qualitative results are more descriptive and subjective, so they'll depend on what you prioritize. For example, if a goal results in better health or less stress, that's a qualitative result. 

And yes, you could break down qualitative results like "less stress" into numbers as well (number of days you felt stressed before compared to now, for example). But it's also ok to keep things simple!

A better project management system for me could result in quantitative results like better data for tracking my projects (e.g., X number of projects at Y rate completed in Z amount of time) that I can then use to set better goals next time. It could also reduce stress and simplify my limited freelance hours, both qualitative results.

Don't forget that you may have already built a "why" or "ideal result" into your goal, so revisit that as well and see how close you've gotten.

Tip: It's ok to not meet your goals! Part of re-evaluating is deciding whether this is the right time to meet that goal. If you need to postpone, change, or drop it, that's an option.

It's also important to note down when you're struggling to meet a goal: this is often a clue that something needs to change. It could be the goal itself, or something external that needs adjusting to get you back on track. For example, maybe you find you're too stressed about money to focus on a passion project.

In my case, expanding my blog is important, but my health needs to take priority, which means my goals need to shift. I can't control the health factors, but I can acknowledge the impact and reprioritize so I can focus on managing them better.

Think of goals as guidelines

By breaking down your goals, working toward them incrementally, and reviewing them consistently, you can make informed decisions and pivot when (not if) something changes.

Related reading:

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Leanna Lee Mon, 11 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/quarterly-monthly-check-ins
The only Gantt chart template you'll ever need for Excel (and how to automate it) https://zapier.com/blog/gantt-chart-template .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

There's something visually satisfying about lines. Second to the dot, it's the simplest graphic element you can draw, yet it can convey a huge amount of meaning. (If you're not here to wax poetic about lines, I don't don't know why you're here.)

Gantt charts help project managers and their teams get a quick bird's-eye view of project progress and team availability—all thanks to the humble line. Throw in some color coding, and you've really got a project management stew cooking.

Most project management software can readily change dashboards to Gantt views. But if you're looking to stick to the Microsoft Office suite and DIY, here's how you can easily create one with a handy free Gantt chart template for Excel.

Free Excel Gantt chart template

Screenshot of Zapier's free Gantt chart template

This intricately designed Gantt chart template should handle just about anything you need a Gantt chart to do. The idea is to give you a quick view of task timelines, project progress, and overall utilization. When multiple tasks overlap or there's a significant gap, you'll be able to visualize it and make changes on the fly.

Ready to take a Gantt-er? (I'm so sorry.) Here's how to open it:

  1. Download the template.

  2. Open Excel from your desktop or log in to your Microsoft 365 account and open Excel in your browser.

  3. Click File > Open, and locate the .xlsx file you downloaded. (Select the Open files from this device option in 365.)

Notes for Microsoft 365 users

You should also be able to upload the template file to your dashboard, but the interface usually doesn't cooperate with me when I try this. If the file doesn't do anything after you open it, disable your pop-up blocker. I tried about 10 times before figuring out that's why mine wouldn't open.

How to use our Gantt chart template in Excel

So your shiny new project management toy is loaded up in Excel and ready to go, but you Gantt figure out what to do next. (I'm so, so sorry.) Here's how to use the template every time you have a new project to visualize:

  1. Delete any unnecessary example data from the template.

  2. Always save a new copy of this document (File > Save As) before starting a new project, so the template file stays blank.

  3. Change the file name, title, and tab title to the project name (or whatever you want to call it).

  4. Change the project start date, and the rest of the dates will automatically update. 

  5. Update the project, manager, task, and phase name fields as needed.

  6. Update estimated start and end dates for each task. Once you add the number of days to the column between those two columns, you'll populate the chart with the Gantt chart's signature lines.

  7. As your team progresses through tasks, you can update the left cell of the "Progress" column with the completion percentage, and it'll update the handy little percentage meter.

Tips for using the template

  • If you keep making the same changes to new files, you can always change the core template file to save time.

  • You can toggle the date range views without deleting any data by changing the display week field.

  • Updating the length of one task will automatically shift ensuing task dates.

  • When you want to clean up some visual clutter, use the +/- icons to the left of the row numbers to open and close phases.

How to create your own Excel Gantt chart template

So maybe you've got your own ideas about how you'd like your Gantt chart template to look. (Don't worry, only a little offended.) 

I'll note that it's almost always easier to create one in dedicated Gantt chart software like Ganttic, project management software like ClickUp, or database applications like Airtable. You can even automate those tools using Zapier. For example, you can add Ganttic tasks for new Google Calendar events or add Excel sheet rows for new Airtable records, and much more. Here are a few examples to get you started.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

But if you've got all your data stored in Excel or if your workflows are so entrenched in the Microsoft Office universe you can't see daylight anymore, you can create your own Gantt chart template in Excel from scratch just like we did. (Just maybe not quite as nice.)

Note: I'm using the web version of Excel, but the desktop version should look pretty similar.

Step 1: Fill in and format your data

First things first: fill in the basic data you want to populate the Gantt chart template. We'll start simple, with just columns (from left to right) for task name, start date, length, and end date. Feel free to insert extra rows for phases if you're into the granularity thing. (Don't forget to label your column headings.)

Screenshot of an Excel sheet showing how to fill in and format data with columns labeled task, start date, length, and end date

Once you've got the basics set up, you'll want to format your cells: 

  • Task name: Text format

  • Start and end dates: Date format

  • Length: Number format

To do this, select the entire column by clicking on its corresponding letter. Then, holding Command (Mac) or Control (Windows), click the column header so it deselects it. Right-click the highlighted column (sans header) and select Format Cells. In the Number field, you'll find both the date and number formats. (You can leave the Task column alone—it's text by default). Be sure the Length column is formatted to have no decimals.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to format the data

Lastly, you could mental-math your task length, but why? Set up a quick formula in the first cell of the Length column of end date minus start date. (In my case, this is =D2-B2.) Once that populates the cell with a number, hover over the bottom-right corner of the cell until your cursor turns into a +, then double-click, and it'll automatically apply it to every ensuing cell in the column. (If this doesn't work, just copy the cell and paste it into the remaining cells.)

Screenshot of a portion of the Excel sheet showing how to input a formula in the length column

Extra lastly, I recommend visually differentiating your phases by adding a highlight or, in my case, bolding the text. Feel free to do the same to your column headings or task names.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to differentiate the phases by bolding the text and adding a light gray highlight

Step 2: Insert bars

Here's where things really (I can't express how sorry I am) Gantt going. 

Highlight your whole table of data, then open the Insert tab in the top nav. Find the little caret dropdown at the edge of the graph options, and select Stacked Bar under the Bar options. (You could also do 100% Stacked Bar if you'd prefer to view percentage completion rather than dates.)

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to turn the data into bars

Boom, Gantt chart. Sort of. Now you need to edit the data in your table. To do that, right-click the chart and select Format, then select the Data tab. Under the Setup caret, hit the trash can to remove the start date and length fields. (We'll come back to this later.)

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to edit the data in the bar chart

Now go to the Format tab. Under the Chart Title caret, change the name of the chart to your project name (or leave it blank). Then, deselect the legend option. Your chart might look a little scrunched, but it should be pretty clean now.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to add a title to the bar chart

Step 3: Format the horizontal axis

You'll probably notice the date range is too broad now. To remedy this, copy/paste the project's first start date and final end date into new cells. Then, select them and change the format like you did earlier, switching those two cells from dates to numbers. You'll get very specific-looking values.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing the first step in formatting the bar chart's horizontal axis

Select your graph, then right-click the dates on the horizontal axis, and go to the Format option. Enter the start date value into the Minimum field and the end date value into the Maximum field. Finally, change the Major Units field to 7 to display your dates in weekly increments. (If you prefer to view individual days, change to 1 instead.) Now your Gantt chart should match your table data.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing the second step in formatting the bar chart's horizontal axis

Step 4: Format the vertical axis

Discerning users will notice the vertical axis is displaying tasks in reverse order. (Less discerning users will now check their charts and verify this is true.)

To invert them, right-click the vertical axis of the chart (aka, the names of the tasks), and click—you guessed it—Format. Under the Format tab and Vertical Axis caret, check the checkbox for Categories in reverse order.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to format the bar chart's vertical axis

This handily also brings your horizontal axis dates to the top of the chart. Exit out, and you'll see your shiny new Gantt chart.

Step 5: Customize formatting

Want to incorporate task progress into your bars that visualize how far each task has progressed from the start date to today's date? Right-click the chart and go to Format. In the menu, switch to the Data tab. Under the Bar Values heading, click Add Field and bring back the Start Date. Then, click the up arrow to move it before the end date field.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to order the data by start to end date

You can leave the color coding as is, if you're into that, or to make it more Gantt-y, switch back to the Format tab. Under the Series "Start date" caret, change the Fill paint bucket to No Fill. Use the Outline dropdown next to the paint bucket to select an outline color (I chose a tasteful light gray). Bam, blank space leading up to start dates.

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to change the fill color for the bars

While you're at it, you can also change the end date bar colors to whatever you like. You can even change individual bars if you want to visually group tasks or delineate phases. Just click the bar of your choice (which will select every bar), then click it again to select just that bar. Right-click it, and you should see another Fill bucket and Outline icon. 

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing how to change the bar fill color

To finish up, add any extra columns (like task assignee), update highlight colors, and then drag and drop the chart next to your table. Expand it to the size you want, and you're done. 

Screenshot of the Excel sheet showing the finalized data and bar chart

How to automate your Gantt chart template with Excel

Whether you've grabbed our Gantt chart template or followed the steps above to create your own, when it comes to visualizing project timelines, this is one chart you really Gantt beat. (For the last time, I'm sorry.)

Unless, of course, you use project management tools that make it even simpler and more refined—not to mention more automatable. Zapier's no-code automation helps you do that with custom workflows that combine multiple apps into streamlined sequences.

Related reading:

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Bryce Emley Mon, 11 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/gantt-chart-template
12 stunning and time-saving newsletter templates for Word https://zapier.com/blog/newsletter-templates-word .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

I once ran an email newsletter about my favorite band in the halcyon days of the late '90s. I designed these newsletter templates in Word, because using dial-up internet for anything less than absolutely necessary was on par with making stir-fry with your partner's expensive EVOO. (Ask me how I know.)

Newsletter marketing has come a long way since then, yet Microsoft Word remains a powerful tool for creating templates. Whether you're a business wanting to expand brand awareness or a preteen girl hoping to spread the gospel of three teenage brothers with the voices—and hair—of angels, newsletters are a stellar way to reach an audience.

Jump into our selection of newsletter templates for Word or Google Docs to find your perfect match, or hang around to discover the basics of newsletter templates, how to use them, and the identity of my former favorite band and newsletter subject. (It's pretty embarrassing.)

What is a newsletter template?

A newsletter template is a pre-designed, customizable framework that enables you to efficiently create newsletters before emailing them in a platform like Outlook or Gmail. Think of them as the structural foundation that saves you from reinventing the wheel each time you want to send an update.

Using a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, as opposed to a professional design program, provides a flexible newsletter template—perfect for those who think bleed settings are what you tell the server when they ask how you want your steak.

Newsletter templates offer flexibility through editable elements like:

  • Header: Brand your newsletter with your logo, tagline, or a striking image.

  • Footer: Include contact information, social links, and unsubscribe options here.

  • Headings: Edit headlines and subheadings to capture attention and establish a hierarchy to guide readers through your content.

  • Colors: Align the color scheme with your brand's visual identity for consistency.

  • Fonts: Select typefaces that are easy to read and align with your brand. Avoid obscure fonts that might not display correctly.

  • CTAs: Encourage readers to take a specific action by including clear and compelling call-to-action buttons or links.

  • Images: Break up text and increase engagement with photos, illustrations, or icons relevant to your content. You may also want to add captions to images for context or attribution.

Templates streamline the newsletter creation process and ensure your emails always look polished. Once you find a template you love, you can iterate on it for each edition, simply swapping out the content, saving you tons of time. That's what I did with my Hanson newsletter.

How to use newsletter templates in Word or Google Docs

In order to use a downloaded document as a template, you'll first need to save it as a template file. Luckily, this is a pretty simple process in both Word and Google Docs.

Microsoft Word

  1. Create or open your base document: Begin by creating a new document or opening an existing one that has the structure and formatting you want.

  2. Customize: Add all the essential elements you want in your future newsletters, such as company logos, placeholder text and images, and specific fonts and styles. (Or use one of the templates below.)

  3. Save as a template:

    • Click File > Save As.

    • In the Save as type dropdown menu, select either Word Template (.dotx) or, to send your newsletter directly through email, Outlook Template (.oft).

    • Give your template a name, and click Save.

  4. To use your template in Word:

    • Click File > New from Template.

    • Select your template in the new window, and click Create.

  5. To use your template in Outlook:

    • Create a new email in Outlook.

    • Navigate to the Home Tab, and in the New group, click the New Items dropdown.

    • Select More Items > Choose Form.

    • Under the Look In: dropdown, select User Templates in File System.

    • Find and select your newly created template, and click Open.

Google Docs

Google Workspace subscribers can add custom templates by going to the Google Docs Template Gallery and selecting the Submit a template button.

If you have a personal Google account, there isn't a way to save a document as a reusable template, but there's an easy workaround:

  1. Create or open your base document: Start with a new document, or make a copy of an existing one containing your desired newsletter format.

  2. Customize: Design your document in Google Docs as you want your template to appear (or use one of the templates below).

  3. Name and organize: Give it a clear title like "[Newsletter name] - TEMPLATE." Consider creating a dedicated "Templates" folder in your Google Drive to keep things organized.

  4. When you need to use your template:

    • Locate the document in Google Drive.

    • Right-click on the file and choose Make a copy.

    • Rename the copy and start editing.

  5. To email from Google Docs:

    • Click the Insert menu, then hover over Building blocks, and select Email draft.

    • Alternatively, type @email directly into the document, and press Enter. This will generate an email draft structure.

12 newsletter templates for Word and Google Docs

The following newsletter templates for Word and Google Docs serve as a jumping-off point, featuring a basic layout with placeholders for content, images, and graphics. They're perfect for those who say, "I want to express myself, but not too much." Feel free to customize them to match your brand's style and the type of information you want to share, regardless of our suggested use case.

1. Corporate newsletter template

Best for: Internal communications or company leadership teams to share company updates, employee achievements, and industry news

Corporate newsletters serve as a central hub for employees and stakeholders to stay connected with a company's happenings. They typically cover a wide range of content, including things like new projects or initiatives, upcoming events, and the break room fridge clean-out schedule. This type of newsletter reinforces company values and objectives and builds a sense of community.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

2. Education newsletter template

Best for: Educational institutions or corporate training programs to share educational content, course updates, and upcoming events

An education newsletter is perfect for schools, colleges, and other educational organizations. It helps celebrate achievements and keep everyone informed. This type of newsletter often includes important announcements, scholarship opportunities, and that one article about managing stress during exams.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

3. Industry-specific newsletter template

Best for: Professional organizations, thought leaders, or specialized businesses to provide curated industry news, trends, and analysis for professionals looking to stay informed

Targeted and insightful, an industry-specific newsletter is the place to talk shop. It's like having a friend who only talks about work but in surprisingly riveting detail. Whether you're keeping accountants abreast of the latest tax loopholes or helping morticians stay on the cutting edge of embalming techniques, your content should match what your target audience expects and finds most useful or interesting.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

4. Networking event newsletter template

Best for: Organizers promoting networking events, workshops, and conferences

Primarily used to promote and increase attendance at networking functions, a networking event newsletter builds excitement by highlighting speakers, sharing success stories from previous events, and detailing pertinent information like program schedules and registration instructions. With any luck, your guests will be exchanging business cards and LinkedIn requests before the end of the pre-event cocktail party.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

5. Client showcase newsletter template

Best for: Agencies and freelancers to highlight projects, testimonials, and case studies

A client showcase newsletter demonstrates expertise, credibility, and success to potential clients while keeping current clients informed of the company's work. Because nothing screams humility like dedicating an entire publication to singing your own praises.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

6. Seasonal/holiday newsletter template

Best for: Marketing teams, customer relations, or anyone wanting to connect with their audience during specific times of the year

Whether it's decking the halls or carving pumpkins, a seasonal/holiday newsletter connects with audiences on a celebratory, personal level. This is a chance to showcase your brand's personality by celebrating seasonal events or holidays, sharing themed promotions, or giving company updates in a festive context. Leave the hard-selling for another time—no one likes thinly veiled sales emails disguised as holiday cheer.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

7. Personal branding newsletter template

Best for: Individuals building their personal brand with recent work, achievements, or personal anecdotes

A personal branding newsletter helps freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business owners strategically establish their reputation and expertise in their chosen fields. These newsletters promote their thought leadership and connect them with potential collaborators or clients.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

8. Health and wellness newsletter template

Best for: Health care providers, wellness coaches, or HR departments to share health tips, wellness challenges, and resources

A health and wellness newsletter aims to inspire and support personal well-being goals. Its content is usually carefully curated from various sources to deliver valuable, healthy lifestyle information and articles packed with revolutionary advice like "drink water" and "exercise."

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

9. Real estate newsletter template

Best for: Real estate professionals to share market trends, new listings, and homeowner advice with potential and current clients

A real estate newsletter caters to home buyers, sellers, and everyone else, honestly. (I mean, who doesn't love a little real estate voyeurism?) It aims to inform and guide readers through the complexities of the real estate market, providing insights into market dynamics, property management tips, and the reason why something called a "short sale" takes so dang long.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

10. Nonprofit organization newsletter template

Best for: Nonprofits to update supporters about upcoming events, successes, and involvement opportunities

Designed to tug at heartstrings and loosen purse strings, a nonprofit newsletter focuses on an organization's activities, achievements, and needs. It cultivates a sense of community, demonstrates transparency, and expertly executes the subtle art of gentle guilt-tripping.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

11. Financial newsletter template

Best for: Financial services firms, consultants, or personal finance bloggers to provide market analysis, investment tips, and financial planning advice

The key to a successful financial newsletter is to focus on delivering useful, data-driven insights that will directly benefit readers and help them improve their financial literacy. Keep the content balanced and avoid hype, as your audience relies on you as a trusted source of financial information.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

12. Creative inspiration newsletter template

Best for: Design firms, art galleries, or creative agencies to share resources, trends, showcases, and artist spotlights

Inspire a creative mindset, encourage innovation, and flex your superior taste with a creative inspiration newsletter. This type of newsletter helps agencies, creatives, or those in an artistic field motivate readers to push beyond their usual thinking and discover new ideas.

To use this template in Google Docs instead, make a copy of this Google Doc.

Customizing your newsletter template

Customizing a newsletter template in Word is like dressing up a Maltese in your stepsister's old American Girl Doll clothes—utterly delightful and surprisingly straightforward once you know how. Here are a few quick tips to jazz up your chosen newsletter template:

  • Add links by highlighting the text or image you want to become a link. Press Ctrl + K and paste your link in the address field.

  • Replace an image by right-clicking on the image and choosing Change Picture in Word or Replace image in Google Docs.

  • Change colors by selecting the text, then clicking on the Text color option in the formatting bar. Choose a new color from the palette or enter a specific hex code for perfect brand alignment.

  • Update fonts by highlighting the text you want to change and choosing a new font from the list that appears in the formatting bar. You'll typically find this next to the color picker.

  • Set default fonts and colors to ensure consistency throughout your entire document. In Word, this can be found in the Design tab. In Google Docs, go to Format > Paragraph styles.

Customizing a newsletter template is about making it your own while keeping it readable and engaging. Like accessorizing a seven-pound dog, a little can go a long way.

Newsletter best practices

Newsletters are a widely used email marketing tool that requires little work. But there are a few things to pay attention to when building out your newsletter to ensure your messages land perfectly.

Deliver value

There's no point in sending out a newsletter if no one reads it. Be sure to understand what kind of information your readers want and reflect that in your content. Value means different things to different audiences—case studies, product how-tos, behind-the-scenes stories, dog photos—but I can all but guarantee your target audience doesn't value aggressive sales-y messaging.

Include your logo

Your logo helps establish brand recognition and makes your newsletter instantly recognizable. Place it prominently, usually at the top of your newsletter, so subscribers immediately identify who the email is from. Ensure your logo is appropriately sized and links to your website for easy navigation.

Use high-contrast colors and readable fonts for accessibility

While you should use colors and fonts that match your brand, don't forget about readers with visual impairments. Opt for high-contrast color schemes (e.g., black text on a white background) and stay away from tiny or overly decorative fonts. Instead, use clear, sans-serif typefaces like Arial or Verdana for maximum legibility and a positive reading experience for all subscribers.

Carefully select images

To keep the email size manageable, use just a few high-quality, relevant, and compressed images. GIFs can be great for eye-catching elements, but overuse can overload inboxes and potentially flag emails as spammy. Turn off text wrapping when adding images in Word or Google Docs. Otherwise, your text may decide it's time to explore the page while your image sits there, smug and untouchable, in the middle of the chaos it created.

Use tables

The easiest way to create a newsletter layout in Word and Google Docs is by using tables. ​​They create visual separation, improve readability, and help organize different content areas. Use tables to arrange headlines, articles, images, and CTA buttons. Always make sure your tables are formatted with enough space for a visually clean appearance.

Write concisely

We live in a world where attention spans are shorter than that goldfish your mom flushed after you fed it a Cheerio, so get straight to the point. Highlight key information with bullets or bolded text and keep paragraphs short and scannable. As Kevin from "The Office" once said, "Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?"

Use white space

Unlike the aforementioned goldfish, your newsletter should be able to breathe. White space around text and images prevents your layout from feeling cramped, gives the reader's eye a chance to rest, and creates a clean, professional look.

Design with popular email clients in mind

Some email apps have limitations or render content differently. Keep your designs relatively simple and optimized for compatibility with popular email platforms such as Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail. Send previews to yourself in multiple email clients across desktop and mobile before hitting send to your full list.

Include an unsubscribe link

An unsubscribe option is like the emergency exit on an airplane—nobody wants to use it, but everyone needs to know where it is. Include a clear, no-questions-asked unsubscribe link in the footer of your newsletter. This isn't just about being a good email citizen (though it totally is)—it's also the law in many places. Plus, making it easy for people to bow out keeps your engagement rates healthy and your audience genuine.

Stay on schedule

At the risk of sounding like a Jamie Lee Curtis yogurt commercial, it's important to stay regular. Whether you send your newsletter daily, weekly, or monthly, decide on a frequency and stick to it. Consistency builds anticipation and creates a routine, making you a familiar presence in your audience's inbox.

Automate newsletter templates in Word and Google Docs

With newsletter automation, you can spend less time on the repetitive tasks involved in creating your newsletter and more time creating great content. Zapier has integrations with Google Docs, Gmail, Microsoft Office 365, and dozens of email marketing platforms, so you can automate all your newsletter tasks.

Learn how to automatically add new leads to your email list and more, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Zapier is the leader in workflow automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Use interfaces, data tables, and logic to build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

Related reading:

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Allisa Boulette Mon, 11 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/newsletter-templates-word
What is Sora? Everything you need to know about OpenAI's new text-to-video model https://zapier.com/blog/sora-ai .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

Sora is DALL·E for video—it's even built by the same people. 

You type a text prompt, and the AI model does its best to generate a matching video. It makes sense that once AI models could generate decent images, the next challenge would be getting them to generate good video footage—and that's what Sora is getting at.

While Sora is still in testing, the results that OpenAI has demonstrated are impressive—though they do have a surreal video-game-like quality.

You can judge for yourself whether they're truly realistic or not. But first, let's have a look at what Sora is, how it works, and how it could be used going forward. 

What is Sora?

The Sora landing page

Sora is a generative text-to-video AI model developed by OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT and DALL·E 3. OpenAI claims that it "can create realistic and imaginative scenes." I'd argue that "realistic" might oversell things a touch—and they also lack sound, at least for now—but the videos it generates from written prompts do look great. 

In addition to using text prompts, Sora can also take an image and turn it into a video, or take a video clip and extend it forward or backward in time. 

Sora can create videos that are up to 60 seconds long with multiple characters, camera motion, and persistent and accurate details. Thanks to its training (which I'll dive into below), it has a deep understanding of how things exist in the real world—if not always how they physically interact.

How does Sora work?

Sora is built on the ideas behind Open AI's DALL·E and GPT models, as well as plenty of novel innovations. 

It was trained on an unspecified amount of video footage that appears to include everything from selfie videos to movies, TV shows, real world footage, video game recordings, and lots more. All this training footage was captioned, mostly by AI, so that Sora could develop a deep understanding of natural language and how it relates to the physical world.

Tokenizing visual data with patches

In the technical report, the OpenAI researchers explain that they were inspired by how large language models (LLMs) like GPT are able to become incredibly competent at a wide variety of tasks just by being trained on massive quantities of data. 

A big part of this is because LLMs model the relationships between individual "tokens"—fragments of meaningful text roughly four characters long—across different domains, including multiple languages, mathematics, and computer code. Feed in billions of web pages, and they have a structure they can use to sort things out and incorporate it. 

To achieve some of the same benefits with video, OpenAI uses "spacetime patches." In essence, every frame in a video is broken down into a series of smaller segments called patches. How each segment changes through the length of the video is also encoded in the spacetime patch—hence the name, spacetime. Crucially, this allowed Sora to be trained on a wide variety of different visual data, from vertical social media videos to widescreen movies, as each clip didn't have to be cropped or compressed to a specific set of dimensions. 

It gets really complicated really quickly, so if you want to learn more, check out the technical report or this article from Towards Data Science, or keep reading for a few more details.

Generating patches with a transformer diffusion network

To generate videos, Sora uses the same diffusion method as DALL·E, with a transformer architecture similar to GPT, enabling it to generate long, detailed, multi-composition clips. 

Diffusion starts with a random field of noise, and the AI repeatedly edits it so that it gets closer and closer to the target prompt. It sounds wild, and I explain it in more detail in Zapier's roundup of the best AI image generators, but it works really well with modern image models. It's how Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, DALL·E 3, and every other AI art generator is able to create such interesting results. 

Sora's biggest development is that it doesn't generate a video frame by frame. Instead, it uses diffusion to generate the entire video all at once. The model has "foresight" of future frames, which allows it to keep generated details consistent throughout the entire clip, even if they move in and out of frame, are obscured by other objects, or the virtual camera moves through 3D space.

Check out a few of OpenAI's sample videos here and here, and you'll see all this in action. The clips generally look to have consistent details without too many weirdly generated artifacts. 

For a deeper dive into the technology behind AI, here are some resources:

What can Sora be used for?

At its most basic, Sora can be used to generate videos from text prompts. How useful this is in the real world remains to be seen. AI-generated images haven't replaced photographers and other artists, but they're definitely being widely used—especially online.

But if OpenAI's preview is to be believed, Sora can do a whole lot more:

  • It can convert static images and drawings into videos. 

  • It can add special effects to existing images and videos. 

  • It can extend videos both forward and backward in time. 

  • It can convert any video clip into a seamless loop. 

  • It can interpolate between two unrelated video clips. 

  • It can edit existing videos, replacing the background or subject with something else. 

Some of these features, at least, have the potential to enable people to create and generate new kinds of videos, at least without resorting to video editing and special effects programs like Adobe After Effects. 

Of course, typical of OpenAI's grandiose/futuristic vision, Sora isn't useful just for creating video. It can apparently simulate artificial processes like video games, and as a result, the researchers feel that the "continued scaling of video models is a promising path towards the development of highly-capable simulators of the physical and digital world, and the objects, animals and people that live within them." If the Metaverse finally takes off, we might have Sora to blame. 

Of course, there's the potential for deepfakes. While existing video editing and AI tools already make them easy to create, text-to-video AI models could supercharge the ability of unscrupulous people to generate them with little to no effort. The video quality isn't quite convincing yet, but that doesn't mean it always won't be—or that some people won't try to pass off AI videos as real anyway. 

To OpenAI's credit, they have generally put in strong guardrails that make it hard to misuse and abuse their models, but the same can't be said about other services built using similar open source models. We're certainly looking at the next few years being weird while society as a whole comes to terms with fake videos being easier and cheaper to produce.

How good is Sora?

OpenAI's Sora demos look great, but there are some big caveats hanging over it all. 

According to OpenAI, Sora can struggle to accurately simulate physics in complicated scenes and won't always nail cause and effect. The example they give is that someone might take a bite out of a cookie while leaving it whole. Similarly, it's unable to model a glass smashing as it falls over in one of the video demos. The model can also mix up spatial details like lefts and rights, and may not be able to follow "precise descriptions of events that take place over time, like following a specific camera trajectory."

The biggest question mark, though, is just how cherry-picked OpenAI's examples are. If the video demos are a reasonably accurate representation of what Sora can do with a given prompt, it's going to be fascinating when it gets released to the general public. On the other hand, if the clips are just the best of the best, and there's a lot of bad footage left on the cutting room floor, then Sora will be a little less exciting—at least initially. Once OpenAI gets loads of training from people using it, it's likely to rapidly improve regardless. 

When will Sora be available?

Sora is currently available to "red teamers," AI researchers who specialize in finding the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in AI models, and, in particular, figuring out how to make them create all kinds of horrible things. OpenAI will then use the results of their testing to train Sora so that it's more suitable for release to the general public. 

While there's no clear timeline for that to happen, you can try out a few other text-to-video AI models today. Runway Gen-2 is the big name, but Google's Lumiere and Meta's Make-a-Video are both available as PyTorch extensions if you have the technical chops to run them. Or you can check out Zapier's list of the best AI video generators.

Otherwise, I'd recommend just heading to the Sora page to see tons of examples of the tool in action.

Related reading:

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Harry Guinness Mon, 11 Mar 2024 04:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/sora-ai
The 6 best electronic signature apps to sign documents online in 2024 https://zapier.com/blog/best-digital-signature-apps .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

Paperwork is now more of an abstract concept than something that requires a printer, a few sheets of paper, and a pen. You don't have to physically sign a contract for it to be legally binding, but there are still a few hoops you have to jump through to make sure your electronic signature will count in court. Using a dedicated eSignature app to sign documents online is the best way to go if you want your digital signature to stand up to all the legal scrutiny a conniving ex-business partner can throw your way.

As a freelance tech writer, I've had to sign dozens of contracts, statements of work, W8-BEN-E forms, and other legal documents over the last decade just to do my job. I'm based in Ireland, and I can only imagine what shipping original documents back and forth to the US in a timely manner would cost. So, as you can imagine, I've had to use a lot of eSign apps.

Whether you're looking for a way to electronically sign a document that you've just received or want to send documents out to be digitally signed by contractors and other business partners, I have recommendations for the right apps to use. I considered and tested almost 40 electronic signature apps, and these are the six best—for everyone on both sides of the paperwork. (Seriously, if you hire freelance writers, please use a good app. Please.)

The best eSignature software

  • DocuSign for businesses that sign lots of things

  • Preview for occasionally signing documents on a Mac

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader for occasionally signing documents on a PC

  • eSignatures.io for a pay-as-you-go option

  • SignWell for a free document signing app

  • SignNow for small teams

How to sign documents online: Digital signature vs. electronic signature

As with all things legal, definitions matter. When talking about online document signing, electronic signatures and digital signatures are slightly different things.

An electronic signature is just your typed, drawn, or otherwise computer-added signature on a document. You can make one with almost any app, from Microsoft Word to Adobe Photoshop. It's still legally binding, but because anyone could easily forge it, you might have a harder time enforcing its validity in a contentious court case. If the other lawyers can convincingly argue that your erstwhile business partner left their iPad on their coffee table and a small child decided to draw a squiggle on the open document and hit send without realizing, then you might be out a lot of money.

A digital signature is a special kind of electronic signature that uses cryptography to protect the document and also embeds details like email addresses, when and where people signed any documents, and the serial number and identifying details of the device they use to do it. This creates both a "fingerprint" that makes the document unique and a paper trail that can be independently verified. If there ever was a court case, it would be a lot harder for anyone to claim they weren't the one to actually sign the document—the kid hardly squiggled in their email address. For official purposes, digital signatures are a lot more secure and legally recognized around the world—and you need a dedicated eSign app to add them. 

We use the terms interchangeably—in common usage, they basically are—but it's worth keeping that distinction in mind as you do your research.

How to sign a document electronically

While you can digitally sign a document with dozens of different tools, the apps on this list are all dedicated eSign apps that make it super easy to do. If you've been sent a document you need to sign electronically, start with one of these apps, or scroll to the end to see some other options.

What makes the best electronic signature app?

How we evaluate and test apps

Our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. Unless explicitly stated, we spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

The problem with business app categories like this is that often the people paying for the app (or deciding which one to get) aren't the ones who have to use it every day. And while there are lots of eSignature apps out there that will get the job done, a lot of them are awful to use.

To make this list, the document signing software had to be nice to use but also provide all the features that small and medium businesses need. For me, a great eSignature app has to meet a few criteria:

  • The ability to add an electronic (or digital) signature to any document. Signing things is the whole point of these apps. But the simpler and easier it is to do, the more different kinds of documents and devices that are supported, and the deeper the integrations with other apps and software platforms, the better. While almost any app can simply add a signature or typed name, I was looking for ones that were great to use and could fit into a lot of different workflows, whether you were onboarding people internally or hiring external contractors. In practice, this meant I wanted to see integrations with other tools and services as well, either through Zapier or directly.

  • The ability to send a document to someone else to have them sign it. This is a really important feature for a dedicated eSign app and, like when signing a document yourself, I wanted it to be easy and pleasant for the recipient. (Seriously, I've had to sign a lot of documents with awful apps.) The recipient also had to be able to do it without being forced to sign up for an account or install any apps. As much as I'm comparing apps here, I'm also ranking them against the ease of signing a sheet of paper.

  • Accessibility for small to mid-sized businesses. You can find plenty of eSign apps with expensive plans, contract lock-ins, seats for dozens of people, and a focus on enterprise clients—but not on this list. I looked for apps you could use to sign a few clients a month or onboard a hundred or so employees, but not manage a multinational corporation. If you work for a company that's that big, the procurement department is going to be telling you what you're using.

  • Security. Although I wasn't looking for a specific set of features, any app that could store sensitive documents like contracts needed to address it in some way. Things like encrypted or password-protected documents, U.S. or EU government compliance, and digital signature support were all enough to make the grade. (With that said, make sure that any app you use meets the compliance standards of your country or industry. They can vary quite a lot.)

  • A free trial (or free plan). This is a field crammed with different competitors, and telling the good from the bad just from their websites is nearly impossible (trust me, I know). A decent free trial—or better yet, a free plan—was needed to make this list. Priority was also given to apps that didn't collect credit card details. They're just not necessary. 

I started out with a list of almost 40 eSignature apps. That was too many to meaningfully test, so I cut it down by checking out their websites and excluding any that obviously didn't meet the criteria, were clearly aimed at enterprise clients, had generally poor user reviews, or otherwise didn't look like a good fit. It's worth noting that I don't think any of the apps that didn't make the list aren't capable of signing documents—it's just that they aren't as nice to use, cost more, or otherwise didn't warrant a place on a best apps list. If you use one of them and are happy with it, that's great, but if you're looking for an app to start using, try the ones on this list first.

For the remaining apps (which I've now tested four times over the past few years), I created an account, uploaded a Super Important Contract as a Word file and a PDF, and sent it to a second email address. I then signed the contract both as the sender and the recipient, which gave me a good sense of the overall workflow. Most apps that didn't make the list were cut at this stage, as the process for either the sender or the recipient wasn't up to my standards. The document still ended up signed—I just didn't do it with a smile on my face.

For those apps that passed, I spent more time exploring the interface, trying any headline features they claimed to have, and making sure they met the rest of the criteria. Based on all that, here are the six best eSign apps. 

The best electronic signature apps at a glance

Best for

Standout feature

Pricing

DocuSign

Businesses that sign lots of things

Scales with your business

From $15/month

Preview

Occasionally signing documents on a Mac

Free on macOSFree

Free

Adobe Acrobat

Occasionally signing documents on a PC

2 documents/ month for free

Free

eSignatures.io

Pay-as-you-go option

Easy automation

$0.99/document

SignWell

Free document signing

3 documents/month on free plan

Free for up to 3 documents/month; from $10/month

SignNow

Small teams

Unlimited templates and solid mobile apps

From $20/user/month


Best electronic signature software for businesses that sign lots of things

DocuSign (Web, iOS, Android)

DocuSign, our pick for the best electronic signature software for businesses that sign lots of things

DocuSign pros:

  • Checks all the boxes any eSign app could check

  • Nice and easy to use

DocuSign cons:

  • Cheapest plan limits you to five signatures per month

DocuSign is one of the most popular electronic signature apps available, and for good reason. It's great to use and hits all the features most people need in an eSignature app. Even if it's not the absolute best app for your particular needs, it's so consistent across the board, it's probably in the top three.

Getting started with DocuSign is pretty straightforward: sign up for a free trial, and almost immediately, it's prompting you to upload a document, prepare it for signatures, and send it to recipients. If you need someone to sign something on the hurry up, you'll be able to do it in a few minutes with DocuSign's free trial.

DocuSign is set up so that it's easy to keep track of lots of different documents at different stages in the signing process. If you're only sending a couple of envelopes a month, the different boxes and report features aren't going to be much use—you know who has and hasn't signed their contract. But if you're managing dozens of contractors or freelancers, or require all your clients to sign contracts, then they can give you a useful overview of where your business stands. Perhaps best of all, DocuSign can scale with your business from those first few hires to onboarding hundreds of staff.

And if you are sending out the same contracts again and again, you can create templates, send them in bulk to loads of different recipients, and even use PowerForms to create a contract that your customers can sign directly from a link. If you really want to streamline things, DocuSign also integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically upload DocuSign envelopes to the cloud or let your team know when one has been signed. Check out some ideas for automating DocuSign with Zapier, or try one of these examples.

DocuSign price: From $15/month for a Personal plan with up to 5 envelopes sent per month. Unlimited documents with automatic reminders are available on the Standard plan at $45/user/month. 

Deciding between Dropbox Sign and DocuSign? Read our showdown: HelloSign vs. DocuSign.

Best electronic signature app for occasionally signing documents on a Mac

Preview (macOS)

Preview, our pick for the best electronic signature app for occasionally signing documents on a Mac

Preview pros:

  • Available for free on your Mac

Preview cons:

  • Not as verifiable as a digital signature using a dedicated app

If you've been sent a document to sign and nobody needs all the alarm bells and security whistles that come with one of my other picks, you have options. If you have a Mac, you don't need to worry about installing any software or signing up for any services. You can sign things straight from Preview.

Open the document you want to sign in Preview, go to Tools > Annotate > Signature > Manage Signatures, and click Create Signature. You can then create a signature using your trackpad, your iPhone, or by signing a piece of paper and holding it up to the camera. 

Click Done, and then you can drag your new signature to where it needs to be. Save the document, send it back, and you're good to go. And your signature stays saved in Preview for future use. 

Preview price: Included free with all Macs

Best electronic signature app for occasionally signing documents on a PC

Adobe Acrobat Reader (Windows)

Adobe Acrobat, our pick for the best electronic signature app for occasionally signing documents on a PC

Adobe Acrobat Reader pros:

  • Available for free

  • Allows you to send two documents per month for free

Adobe Acrobat Reader cons:

  • Not a dedicated eSign app

Windows PCs don't have an awesome built-in option like Preview, but you can still quickly sign any document with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader app—something you probably already have installed. If you don't, download it from Adobe's website. (Adobe also offers a more robust app, called Acrobat Sign—formerly Adobe Sign—but it's more complicated.)

Open the document you want to sign in Adobe Reader, and in the left sidebar, select Fill & Sign. Click the Sign yourself button in the toolbar and then Add Signature

There are a couple of ways you can create a signature: you can type your name and have Adobe Reader convert it into something that looks like a signature, draw one with your trackpad, or upload an image of your signature. Drawing is probably the easiest if you want something unique without too much hassle. 

Drag your signature to where you want it to be, save the document, and send it back. And just like that, you're done. 

Adobe Reader also allows you to send two documents per month off to be signed, which is kind of neat, and a paid plan that allows you to send more. But, honestly, keeping track of what it's called, how it works, how you sign up, and how it's different from the other Adobe eSign options has been a nightmare over the past few years. If you do a lot with PDFs or just want to send the occasional document off to be signed, give it a whirl, but if you're looking for a dedicated eSign app, try one of the other options on this list.

Adobe Reader price: Free

Best electronic signature app with a pay-as-you-go option

eSignatures.io (Web)

eSignatures.io, our pick for the best electronic signature app with a pay-as-you-go option

eSignatures.io pros:

  • Exclusively pay-as-you-go

  • Easy to automate

eSignatures.io cons:

  • For many businesses that need to sign a lot of contracts, an unlimited plan with another service will work out cheaper

A lot of eSign apps limit the number of documents you can send per month without signing up for one of the more expensive plans. It's pretty inconvenient if your eSigning needs vary throughout the year, say, because you hire seasonal staff or your projects don't follow a predictable pattern. You either can't send all the documents you need to when you want to, or you have to overpay most months. eSignatures.io, with its exclusively pay-as-you-go option, bucks this trend entirely. 

As soon as you sign up for a free account, eSignatures.io encourages you to send a sample contract to yourself so you can see how the service works. (The same demo is also built into the website homepage, which is pretty awesome.) After that, things are up to you—although the onboarding wizard helpfully guides you through. 

Unlike other of the best eSignature services, eSignatures.io isn't really made for sending individual contracts to one-off recipients. You can do that if you like, but it's really designed for businesses looking to batch or automate their contracts using templates. (You set them up in the Templates tab. They're a bit less flexible than some of the other options, but the lack of lock-in makes up for it.)

Once you've got a credit card set up, eSignatures.io doesn't even need you to be hands-on to work. You can create a link that allows your clients to sign up without your input, or even send them a contract to sign over SMS. There's also an API if you want to code your own integrations, and there's built-in Zapier support for everyone else. That means you can easily do things like have new signed contracts automatically uploaded to Google Docs or tracked in your CRM.

eSignatures.io price: $0.99/document.

Best electronic signature app for free document signing

SignWell (Web)

SignWell, our pick for the best free electronic signature app for free document signing

SignWell pros:

  • Three documents a month on the free plan, plus paid plans with unlimited documents from $10/month, make it a serious value proposition

SignWell cons:

  • Not as polished or powerful as an advanced app like DocuSign

Not every business needs to send or sign dozens of contracts a month. If that's the case, then SignWell (previously known as Docsketch), with its three documents per month free plan, might be the perfect fit. 

As soon as you sign up, you're good to start sending contracts. You can either upload a document to be signed or build a template (though you only get one on the free plan). Whichever option you take, you'll use SignWell's modern and, honestly, really nice-to-use web app to add any information and signature fields. It can even help you place things on any blank lines or gaps in the document.

Now, don't worry—SignWell is on this list because it's a good, easy-to-use, and fully-featured electronic signature app. That it's got a great free plan is just a big bonus. If you need to send more documents some months, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend upgrading to a paid plan. The $10/month Personal plan gets you five templates, unlimited documents, and bulk sending, while the $30/month Business plan has unlimited templates, in-person signing, up to three team members, custom branding, and a few other nice-to-have features like data validation. In terms of bang for your buck, few apps offer more.

If you like to automate your workflows, SignWell also integrates with Zapier. That way, you can do things like automatically get a Slack notification or upload a document to Google Drive when a document is completed in SignWell.

SignWell price: Free for up to 3 documents per month. From $10/month for the Personal plan with unlimited documents.

Xodo Sign is another great free eSign app. It allows you to send up to five documents per month, but the app isn't as easy to use. Also, there are no templates on the free plan. If you want to send four or five documents each month, however, it's worth checking out. 

Best electronic signature app for small teams

SignNow (Web, iOS, Android)

signNow, our pick for the best electronic signature app for small teams

SignNow pros:

  • Great value team plans for basic features, especially if you pay annually

SignNow cons:

  • Some features, like attachments and branding, are limited to the most expensive plans

For many businesses, paperwork is a team effort. You may need people from different departments to collaborate on, or at least check out, documents before you send them off. Many electronic signature apps charge a significant per-user monthly fee. Adding two or three extra accounts doesn't just double or triple your costs; when compared to the single-user personal plans, it can easily quadruple or quintuple them.

That's why SignNow is my favorite signature app for small teams—it doesn't even have a separate personal or individual plan. The Business plan starts at $20/user/month when paid monthly, which puts it at the more affordable end of the spectrum. And, if you pay annually, it's just $8/user/month. As long as you're prepared to commit to the platform and know you'll need to work on a lot of contracts with your team, that's as good value as it gets. 

In addition to its team features, SignNow ticks all the boxes of a great electronic signature app. Signing documents is easy for recipients, you get unlimited templates for different document types, and there are even mobile apps. On higher plans, you get features like requesting payments, attachments from signers, and full phone support. You can also use Zapier to connect it to your other services, so you can automatically do things like request signatures from new Trainerize clients or based on new Google Sheets rows.

SignNow price: Starts at $20/user/month for the Business plan

FAQs

Even though we've been doing it for years, signing things electronically can still feel a little odd. Here are some answers to common questions about the process to help.

What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature is like your signature, except done with a computer, smartphone, or other electronic device. You might have to type your name, sign an iPad with a stylus, or even draw a squiggle with your mouse or trackpad—but it still counts as a signature. 

Are electronic signatures legally binding?

In almost all cases, yes. However, since electronic signatures can be easier to fake, you might also need to collect some verifying information if you're concerned you might have to enforce it in court. 

Can you notarize an electronic signature?

Yes, electronic signatures can be notarized. The specifics of what's required vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so check your particular local requirements. 

Other good electronic signature apps

Given that eSignatures are legally binding, any app that lets you scratch an X on a document can be used to make one. But there are plenty of other good dedicated eSign apps (or apps with eSign features) that didn't make this list for various reasons. Here are some options worth checking out:

  • Cloud storage providers like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive all allow you to send documents off to be signed and sign them yourself. If you already store documents in one of these cloud services, it's an option worth exploring. 

  • Adobe Acrobat Sign is a big (and ever-changing) name in eSignatures. I found it wasn't as easy to fit into an existing workflow as my top picks, but it's still a solid option. 

  • Most great PDF apps also allow you to sign documents, though they may not allow you to collect eSignatures from other people.

  • PandaDoc, Signaturely, Signeasy, and Xodo Sign all came close to making the list, but I found they either weren't as nice to use, not as good value, or otherwise a touch more awkward than my top picks. They all allow you to collect eSignatures, and if you already use one, it might not be worth swapping to a different tool, but if you're starting fresh, I prefer the apps on this list. 

What's the best electronic signature app to sign documents online?

Honestly, the most important thing is that you're actually using any of these apps. They all take care of the basics—getting you a legal signature that you can track—but each one comes at it from a slightly different angle. If your team needs to sign documents online every day, be sure that the electronic signature app you choose feels easy to use and integrates with the other apps in your workflow.

Related reading:

Originally published in April 2015 by Paula DuPont, this post has had previous contributions from Hannah Herman. The most recent update was in March 2024.

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Harry Guinness Fri, 08 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/best-digital-signature-apps
How to monetize Discord with Server Subscriptions and Server Shops https://zapier.com/blog/discord-server-subscription .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

I'm a firm believer that businesses can use Discord to connect with their customers and give them content they care about. In addition to helping run a Discord community for an independent publication, I like to write about Discord's potential uses here on the Zapier blog too.

So, when Discord released its Server Subscriptions and Server Shops, I was excited to see how server owners could use it to build professional communities.

Here, I'll walk you through what I've discovered and how you can use Discord's monetization features to earn money for yourself or your business.

What are Discord Server Subscriptions and Server Shops?

Discord Server Subscriptions and Server Shops are features that let you monetize your Discord server.

  • Discord Server Subscriptions let server owners monetize their servers using a subscription model with one to three tiers. Members of your Discord server pay you a monthly fee to get access to unique content, features, and communities. You can keep parts of your server behind your subscription or require a subscription for any access to your server.

  • Discord Server Shops were released in 2023 and give you the option to sell digital products in your Discord server. You can sell downloadable files or exclusive roles.

How much of a cut does Discord take from Server Subscriptions and Shops?

According to Discord's monetization terms, Server Subscriptions and Shops get the following fees taken out of their earnings:

  • Platform fee: 10%

  • Payment processing fee: 6% for desktop purchases, 15% for auto-renewing mobile subscriptions, and 30% for any other purchase type on mobile

  • Transaction fees: Dependent on the transaction platform a customer uses

It's also worth noting that you have to make a minimum of $100 to withdraw your Server Subscription earnings for the first time. From there, you'll need to have a minimum of $25 in your earnings to make a withdrawal.

How to monetize your Discord server

You'll need to have a Discord server in the first place to monetize it. I've previously explained how to create a server if you need a hand.

Also, Discord requires you to meet these eligibility guidelines to use Server Subscriptions and Shops:

  • Account user age 18 or older

  • A Discord account in good standing (no rule violations, recent safety violations, suspicious activity flags, or unpaid Discord charges)

  • A verified account email and phone number

  • Two-factor authorization enabled for your account and required for your server's moderator actions

  • Based in the United States and able to provide a US-based bank account and US identification document to Stripe

With all of that settled, click your server name in the upper-left corner of your server, then choose Server Settings.

Server Settings in Discord

Go to the Server Subscriptions option, and follow the below steps to add monetization features to your server.

Note: You'll need to go here even if you only want to sell products because this setup covers all monetization features. Since Server Shops are currently quite new, you may need to look for a differently-named feature under Monetization in the near future.

Become a community server

If you haven't already, convert your server to a community using the prompt near the top of the Server Subscriptions page or the Enable Community option in your Server Settings menu. Click Get Started on that page to start setup. 

Becoming a community on Discord
Getting started with Server Subscriptions on Discord

Discord will prompt you to follow three steps:

  1. Safety checks: Require a verified email from server users and turn on media scanning for explicit content.

  2. Setting up the basics: Create channels for rules and community updates. Discord can automatically create these for you if you don't have them yet—very nifty!

  3. Finishing touches: Set default notifications to Mentions Only and disable "risky permissions" like channel management for the @everyone role. Then, agree to the Community Server Guidelines and Community Guidelines.

Once you have your Community server in place, create a high-quality welcome experience to improve your members' time with your server. Have a plan in place for how you'll manage your community, too.

Turn on Server Subscriptions

When you have a Community server, the Server Subscriptions menu item will become Enable Monetization, and the prompt at the top of the page will turn into Start Earning. If you meet the monetization requirements, you can check a box and click the button. If not, Discord will walk you through the requirements when you select the button.

Before you can fiddle with your subscription tiers and products, Discord will prompt you to create a team and add your payment information.

Click the Create Team button to go to Discord's developer settings in your browser. From there, click New Team to add members to your server management team and set up payment options through Stripe.

Creating a team for Server Subscriptions on Discord

With your team ready to go, choose it as your payment team on the Server Subscriptions page to get access to all features.

Customize your monetization options

Now you can create your tiers and perks and adjust them to your liking.

Start with the Basic Info tab, where you can decide on your subscription exclusivity, describe your subscription program, and add a cover photo.

Customizing your basic Server Subscription settings on Discord

Then, on to your subscription tiers (in the Tiers tab).

Click the New Tier button to create a tier and determine these details:

  • Basic info: Tier name, price, description, and avatar

  • Channels and benefits: Exclusive channels, Discord role permissions, perks outside of Discord (such as merch or content), and emoji for this tier

  • Free trial: Free trial availability, plus your free trial's time limit and exclusivity if you turn it on

  • Visual flair: Name color and icon for members subscribed to this tier

  • Advanced options: Option to archive a tier to remove it and cancel renewals for it

Creating subscription tiers on Discord

As its name implies, the Emoji tab lets you upload up to 25 subscriber-only emoji. You can decide which tiers can use an emoji as you upload it.

From there, you can go to the Payment tab at any time to check your revenue and subscribers. Here, you can also check your transaction history and change your payment team.

Create products for your Server Shop

Visit Server Products under Monetization in your Server Settings to add products to your Server Shop. It'll automatically take you to the Your Products tab, but you'll also have Basic Info and Payment tabs available that use the same information as their corresponding Server Subscriptions tabs. Under the Your Products tab, click Create New Product to make a new product.

Creating a new product in a Discord Server Shop

A new window will pop up with all of the options you need to create your product. Products can include a downloadable, a role, or both. You can toggle these product types at the very bottom of the window using Include a Role and Include a Downloadable.

You'll have these fields to complete:

  • Title: Choose a title for your product.

  • Description: Write a description of your product, and don't be afraid to get detailed—you have 1,500 characters to work with.

  • Thumbnail: Upload an image that represents your product.

  • Upload Your Downloadable (downloadables only): Click Upload file to add up to 10 files for people to download as your product. You can upload up to 500MB total of these compatible files: .png, .mov, .pdf, .jpeg, and .gif. However, you can't sell archive files like .zip or .rar files.

  • Add Role (roles only): Enter a role name and pick a color for that role. You'll then be able to go to Roles under Server Settings to edit what channels that role has access to. Follow our guide to Discord roles to completely customize your customers' experience.

On the right side of the window, you'll see a preview of what your product will look like when you share it in a Discord chat. Click Save as draft in the lower-right corner of the window to save your product for later, or select Publish in the upper-right corner of the window to make it public.

Promote your server with your Promo page

Your server's Promo page is the page that will appear in Discord's server directory advertising your subscription tiers. Here's an example of one from content creator Bella Poarch.

Bella Poarch's promo page on Discord

Go to Promo Page under Monetization in your Server Settings to customize yours. You'll have these options to work with:

  • Show your premium offering: Turn access to your Promo page on and off.

  • Your promo page URL: Copy your Promo page URL or visit it.

  • Choose page accent color: Select the color for the buttons on your Promo page.

  • Teaser trailer: Add a YouTube URL for a trailer for your subscriptions.

  • Choose what you want to show: Toggle the public subscriber count for your Promo page.

Customizing a promo page on Discord

Discord Subscription Server and Shop ideas for your business

Discord Server Subscriptions and Shops give you a lot of control over the perks you can offer your subscribers. But how can you put them to use? Here are some use cases for these features.

Creators

It seems that Discord primarily has creators in mind for its Server Subscriptions and Shops, which makes sense considering its geek/gaming background. Streamers, YouTubers, musicians, and artists can provide unique content, merch, and behind-the-scenes peeks. For example, the band The Living Tombstone offers a subscription tier that lets members hang out with them.

The Living Tombstone's subscription page on Discord

Freelance writers can follow a similar model. Perks could include things like special newsletter releases and blog posts.

Community

If you have an established server focused on community, memes, and socialization, Server Subscriptions and Shops give you a chance to reward loyal, paying members.

Some perks these users might be interested in include exclusive emoji and roles. Many Discord users join servers specifically for emoji, so don't underestimate the appeal of providing unique ones through subscriptions or as one-time products. Subscription-related roles let you provide special permissions like voice chat priority and thread creation, leading to new ways to interact.

You can also sell roles with exclusive icons and colors in your Server Shop, like the official VALORANT community.

The VALORANT subscription page

Be careful with providing special permissions to your members, though, especially if you have a dedicated base of free users. Taking away Discord functionality from free users and giving them to paid members probably won't fly with an established community.

Learning/expertise

Discord is home to tons of learning communities for languages and other academic subjects. Its format also lends itself well to communities where people can share their professional expertise.

In either of these community types, private channels could drive subscriptions and role purchases. Offer text and voice channels for a "learning buddies" program or personal coaching. Don't forget about voice channels—your paid chats could offer special study groups or webinars.

For example, Triba Business Community gives subscribed members access to exclusive resources, a founders-only chat, and the ability to ask a founder questions.

The Triba Business Community promo page on Discord

eCommerce

eCommerce shop owners can get in on Server Subscriptions and Shops as well. Offer subscription- and role-gated channels for deal drops, product releases, and limited pre-orders. If you go this route, be sure to connect Discord to Zapier so that you can automatically post new products and coupons on Discord. Here are some examples to get you started.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

Tech support

Discord also makes a great channel for you to provide tech support for your product. As part of your paid roles and subscriptions, you can provide a full community or exclusive channels for fast-track support. Your Server Shop also gives you a space to sell any advanced guides or extra tips that your customers would consider worth paying for. Just make sure those paid resources help, not hinder—aim for power users looking for new ideas instead of people trying to make your product work.

Pave your own way

As you mull over your Discord Server Subscription and Shop possibilities, don't limit yourself to one of the monetization models I shared. Think of the content, knowledge, and community only you can offer, and look for ways to provide them in your server.

Related reading:

This article was originally published in January 2023. The most recent update was in March 2024.

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Melissa King Fri, 08 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/discord-server-subscription
6 ways to break down organizational silos https://zapier.com/blog/organizational-silos .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

Farm silos are designed to store large amounts of grain while keeping different materials completely separated. In business, organizational silos have the same effect: they prevent teams and departments from sharing resources and information.

No company sets out to intentionally create organizational silos. Often, it just happens naturally: similar roles and teams are grouped together. It's only when work becomes more cross-functional that the problems start. 

By familiarizing yourself with the warning signs and taking action quickly, you can help keep information and resources flowing freely across your organization.

Image of silos
Silos in agriculture function to store and separate. Business silos prevent collaboration and the flow of information and resources between departments.

How to recognize organizational silo warning signs

Once you know what to look for, organizational silos aren't hard to spot. Ultimately, it comes down to mentality: do teams and departments share information that would be beneficial to other groups, or do they "own" or guard those resources?

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If you're still unsure whether your organization struggles with this silo mentality, here are a few signals you can look for: 

  • Mid-to-senior level employees are unaware of major initiatives run by other departments or groups. It sometimes makes sense for initiatives to have limited reach, but if large chunks of your organization are unaware of important activities, the silo mentality may be taking root.

  • Departments feel underprepared for hand-offs. Imagine the marketing department receives a request to develop content for a new product with a short deadline even though the product has been in development for some time. This may be a result of an information gap that results from silos in business.

  • Top-down communication flows freely, but bottom-up communication is limited or nonexistent. If few actionable suggestions are filtering up from levels below management, this is a warning that silos have taken root.

The above examples of the silo mentality all have the same root cause: departments—or individual managers—are taking ownership of resources competitively, rather than sharing and collaborating. This can lead to everything from power struggles to launch delays to product recalls.

A culture of collaboration starts from the top—employees will mimic what they see in management, so it's crucial for executives and managers to model resource- and information-sharing.

How to build and maintain silo-busting bridges

Early action against organizational silos is particularly necessary for start-ups and growing businesses. The larger the organization, the harder silos are to bust, so it's important to nip them in the bud as soon as—or even before—they start to form. The following strategies will help you break down silos and promote a collaborative cross-functional environment.

1. Help everyone understand the common vision and goals

A common vision and widespread understanding of company goals—and how each department supports them—can prevent the silo mentality from cropping up in the first place. In other words, individuals and teams must understand how they contribute to the big picture. It's equally crucial for individuals to understand how other individuals and teams contribute as well. This encourages team members to think of departments as links in a chain, instead of as separated silos.

An org chart icon
Understanding the roles of others and goals of the company at large is critical to avoiding organizational silos.

Transparent communication is a solid foundation for a healthy company culture. When everyone has their finger on the pulse of what's happening throughout the company, they're less likely to hoard resources or withhold information—intentionally or unintentionally.

And don't worry: keeping your organization's common goals and overall vision top-of-mind doesn't require daily all-hands meetings. You can use a business dashboard app like Klipfolio, or even just a KPI dashboard in a spreadsheet, to keep your company goals and metrics front and center for everyone to see. These tools allow you to display charts, graphs, and other visuals for an at-a-glance look at company-wide performance against goals.

On a more individualized level, HRIS software like BambooHR allows you to display your org structure in various formats, including everything from a traditional org chart to a map of functional and cross-functional teams. Allowing your employees to see how everyone at the company fits into the puzzle will create more empathy and encourage collaboration and information-sharing.

Editor's note: At Zapier, we use Looker to broadcast our primary metrics. These numbers help us remember that we're all working toward a common set of goals.

2. Make the most of your project managers

Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric, instituted the GE Work-Out, which pulls those closest to a business issue into intensive work sessions. The GE Work-Out process encourages cooperation between departments and relies on neutral mediators and facilitators—people who have no prior opinions or personal stake in the outcome of a given Work-Out session. In smaller companies, that may mean hiring a consultant with mediation experience, which can be expensive.

A less costly approach involves good old-fashioned project management. Project managers can and should encourage communication between multiple departments working on a project—usually by establishing regular check-ins.  Whether live or async, these check-ins should give individuals from various departments the chance to discuss progress, roadblocks, and dependencies with other departments. By proactively fostering transparency, project managers can help teams form closer working relationships—which will ultimately encourage resource sharing.

Read our tips for automating calendar functions for ideas on how to optimize updates and reminders for your schedule.

3. Encourage cross-functional training

Don't get it wrong: even though a silo mindset is bad, specialization is overall a good thing. After all, you want each member of your team to be the best at what they do. But at the same time, team members need to understand how their peers fit into the bigger picture. Otherwise, individuals themselves can become silos.

One solution? Cross-functional training.

By exposing  employees to skills and tasks that aren't officially part of their job description, they'll get a clearer picture of what exactly their colleagues do day-to-day. Then, they'll know when their work, knowledge, or resources might overlap.

Cross-functional training also helps encourage career development by exposing employees to multiple functions within the enterprise. Employees can get a better sense for what other aspects of the company suit their skills and interests, and future leaders will gain a better understanding of overall business strategy.

Plenty of larger organizations have formal training programs—such as management training programs or secondments—designed to expose employees to and prepare them for different types of work. But cross-functional training doesn't have to be super formal; simply encouraging employees to have regular 1:1s with cross-functional partners can do a lot for collaboration.

If you do want to run more formal trainings, you'll need a learning management system (LMS) like TalentLMS. A good LMS will help you create training modules for cross-functional groups. Once you develop a couple of introductory courses, consider repurposing them to help onboard future hires. As long as department heads ensure their training materials are kept up to date, there's no need to reinvent the wheel every time.

4. Develop multi-functional teams for critical initiatives

When you're planning a big product launch or other initiative, organizing team members into multi-functional groups can be the key to successful collaboration. 

These multifunctional groups are often known as pods, and the goal is to have representation from every team involved in the project. For example, a product launch pod will typically have folks from  engineering, product marketing, brand, sales, and customer support. Once again, developing interdepartmental relationships through close collaboration on such teams will deter the silo mentality. Team members can witness the crucial role each individual plays in a successful launch—making them  less likely to hoard resources and information.

To encourage continuous communication and collaboration throughout each project or launch, create a channel in your team chat app for each critical initiative. This approach allows multi-functional teams to communicate instantly, regardless of where they're physically located. These apps also increase the signal-to-noise ratio by allowing team members to ping specific individuals or groups of individuals, while still maintaining transparency that could be lost via email. Plus, team chat apps are generally archivable, so chats can be referenced company-wide as necessary in the future.

Take a look at Zapier's picks for the best team chat apps for guidance on which app might be the best fit for your organization.

5. Take advantage of the IKEA effect

The IKEA effect states that people who put creative effort into the beginning stages of a process will be more invested in it down the line. In other words, bring collaborators in early for the best results. That way, every team will have a stake in the work, making them more likely to share resources to make it successful.

Mind mapping software, which allows individuals to synchronously or asynchronously contribute ideas, can really help foster collaboration early on in the process. If you use an integrated task management system (e.g., MindMeister > MeisterTask), you can even turn each idea into a task and add the contributor as a follower, so they're notified as progress is made on an idea they contributed to.

These brainstorming tools can help you get everyone involved early.

6. Automate updates and notifications

Keeping everyone on the same page all the time isn't a small task. But by automating important updates and notifications, you can keep folks in the loop without manual updates. Learn more about creating custom notifications for critical business information, or get started with one of these pre-made templates.

Zapier is the leader in workflow automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Use interfaces, data tables, and logic to build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

Break down organizational silos

Each of your departments may be best in breed—but if they're not collaborating, you could suffer the effects of organizational silos. Silos can spell disaster for team productivity, organizational success, and the customer experience. But by proactively guarding against siloing, you can ensure that your organization maintains its structure without fragmenting your core processes.

Related reading:

This article was originally published in December 2018. The most recent update was in March 2024, with contributions from Hannah Herman. (Silos image by Doc Searls via Flickr. Centralized organizational chart image by David Armano via Flickr. Organizational chart image by Rawpixel.)

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Laura McPherson Fri, 08 Mar 2024 05:00:00 GMT https://zapier.com/blog/organizational-silos
The best calendar apps for Windows in 2024 https://zapier.com/blog/best-calendar-apps-for-windows .css-12p6n7x{overflow:auto;}.css-12p6n7x >*{margin-bottom:20px;margin-top:20px;}.css-12p6n7x >H2{margin-top:60px;}.css-12p6n7x >H3{margin-top:40px;}.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:20px;}@media (min-width: 660px){.css-12p6n7x>[id]{scroll-margin-top:100px;}}

I would be completely lost without my calendar, and I bet the same is true for you. That's why I don't want to leave my calendar in some browser tab, alongside the hundreds of other things I happen to be researching at the time. This is where dedicated calendar software comes in.