Basecamp vs. Trello – Which Project Management Tool is Best for Business?

Online project management tools are helping small business owners communicate, collaborate and tackle projects with amazing speed and efficiency.

Basecamp and Trello are two of the most well known web-based team coordination systems and both have a reputation for excellence, but they offer slightly different features. Knowing which one best fits your small business isn’t easy.So we’re lending a hand. We’ve put Basecamp and Trello head to head in four decisive rounds to help you discover the pros and cons of each and offer our opinion about which one we think is best for small businesses.


basecamp vs. trello for project management

Basecamp began in 2004, as a project management tool for the organization and management of design projects. David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of the Chicago based company 37signals, is the brains behind the Ruby on Rails, which was the principle technology behind Basecamp.

trello vs. basecamp: best project management tools

Fog Creek Software, the New York based company responsible for Trello, was founded in 2000 by Joel Spolsky and Michael Pryor.  Soon after Trello’s release in 2011, it was named as one of “The 7 Coolest Startups You Haven’t Heard of Yet” by Wired magazine. In just one year, the site surpassed half a million users and by December 2012, it was being used by one million people.

Round One: Cost

You can use Basecamp free for 60 days. There’s no credit card required and no obligation to continue the service if you aren’t satisfied. If you want to continue using Basecamp, you’ll have to sign up for a monthly package. Options include a $150/month plan that provides unlimited project management and 100 GB of file storage, a $100/month plan that gives you 40 GB of file storage and the chance to manage up to 100 projects at once.

For $3000/year you’ll get 500 GB of file storage and unlimited project management. Less robust packages include a $50/month plan to manage 40 projects and have access to 15 GB of file storage and a $20/month package that provides 3 GB of file storage and the ability to manage 10 projects simultaneously. You can switch plans or cancel at any time.

Trello’s pricing structure is less complex than Basecamp’s, and it offers a free version that allows you to enjoy unlimited members, boards, organizations, and cards. Trello’s Business Class plan is $25/month (or $200/year) and provides additional administrative features like Google Apps integration, easy bulk export, and the ability for administrators to access and manage all boards (including private ones) plus the option of restricting board visibility and a read-only feature.

The Business Class plan also lets the administrator deactivate the Trello account of those who leave the company, yet maintain a record of their Trello activity.

Winner: Trello

Round Two: Benefits

Basecamp offers a number of project management features, including the convenience of having all files in one place, assigning to-dos with deadlines, project templates that make it easy and fast to create re-occurring projects, and integration with dozens of useful third party tools, like time tracking and invoicing tools, file backup and synchronizing tools and software development tools.

You can view all projects on one page, or click the Everything tab to view all discussions, read all text documents or view every file. It offers a powerful web-based calendar, and Basecamp Breeze which allows you to quickly create email lists and assign email addresses to groups.

If you work with an international team, you’ll be glad to know that Basecamp is available in a dozen languages: English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Danish, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, and Swedish.

Trello’s is incredibly adaptable and highly visual. It works on a three tier information system that’s easy to understand: Boards, Lists, and Cards. Boards are broad in scope, and cards contain details. Information/projects are organized into Boards, and each Board contains Lists. Lists are assigned titles, and contain Cards that represent the basic unit of the board. Cards can be dragged and dropped to different Lists as tasks are completed, or whenever necessary.

You can attach a date to a Card (for example a deadline date or follow up date) and the card will turn yellow when the date nears. You can also gather team member’s opinions by asking them to vote on Cards.

On the right side of the Board, an activity list shows all the Board activity (comments, uploads, etc.) and it’s updated instantly. Trello automatically reformats to any screen size- so whether the user is using an iPhone or laptop, their experience is optimized.As of this article, English is the only language Trello supports.

Winner: Trello

Round Three: Applications

Basecamp offers an official app for iOS, but not one for Android. However there are third party Android apps for Basecamp. The official iOS version gives the user access to all project sections, like Discussions, Files and To-dos, plus the ability to attach and download files, and read and add comments.If you don’t have an iPhone, and you aren’t keen on using a third party app, you can access Basecamp directly through your phone’s web browser. Simply sign in to your account on your iOS, Android or Windows phone.

Trello has an official app for iOS, Android and Windows. In every case, the user enjoys access to the Trello features they’ve become accustomed to.

Winner: Basecamp

Final Round: Support

Basecamp’s website offers a Help section that contains four tabs: FAQ, Guides, Videos and Cheat Sheet. Its FAQ page isn’t far-reaching, but it covers a handful of basic topics. Basecamp’s six Guides (People, Projects, Calendar, You, Going Mobile, Account and Billing) are an excellent customer resource. The site’s videos are short (just one minute) and not only informative but engaging as well. Cheat Sheet is the place to turn when you want to boost your Basecamp skills. It offers a number of pro tips through short, easy to understand video clips.
Trello’s Help section isn’t nearly as extensive as Basecamp’s, but it’s divided into seven topic areas including a useful Getting Started topic and Using Trello topic, that make it easy to find the information you need. Trello also provides a Shortcuts page that provides over two dozen convenient short cuts.

Winner: Basecamp

Final Winner: Trello

basecamp vs trello
Both web-based online project management programs can help streamline communication, and boost organizational efficiency, but Trello’s very visual three tiered organization system make it a bit easier to grasp and because it has a freemium option even fledging businesses can afford to use it.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree that Trello is the winner, or is Basecamp your choice for Project Management? Cast your vote below.