I'm routinely frustrated by Asana because it's clearly a tool created by designers, imposed on developers.
- No integration with code repositories.
- No task numbers
- You can't reference a ticket in a commit and expect any feedback in Asana
- You certainly can't close a ticket with a commit.
- There's no link between CI progress and a ticket.
- No Markdown support (you can't even put links on text!)
- Boards and task lists aren't linked.
- It suppresses middle-click so you can't open more than one ticket at once.
- It logs every last change to things like assignments, but then folds up the conversation to suppress past comments.
Here's what it does have:
- Pretty backgrounds
- Cute little creatures that appear at random
This is not a tool for engineering. Please don't force your nerds to use it.
Warning: Uninvited UI/UX designer/developer opinions incoming...
I share your frustrations with Asana, and for similar reasons. However, I suspect that it wasn't even created by designers. If it had been, it would at least look decent (backgrounds and Furbies don't count). And the people imposing it on developers are neither. It feels a lot more like what I refer to as design-by-corporation: A kludge of features which were determined [by some means external to the design/development teams] to be sellable. Ergo, it wasn't designed as a system, it formed in a more...malignant manner. Even a [decent] UI/UX designer would have started with, at a minimum, a happy-path user-flow for the intended primary user. And...there isn't one. Just an unhappy path. Asana feels more like jumping from rock-to-rock to cross a stream (and the rocks are not in a straight line or close together). It is the physical incarnation of a list of features/benefits all jammed into a single Ziploc bag like some digital trail mix. But not a good trail mix. More like an unbranded gas station variety. To be fair, each, individual feature...works. I'm sure that they met the acceptance criteria any existing unit tests pass. It just doesn't feel like an integrated system and certainly does not feel integrated with the larger development ecosystem or environment.
To be fair to the people who built Asana, I have been on software projects/teams where, despite the skillsets, experience and best intentions of the team members, the end product was ultimately not "allowed" to become great. And it seems like the larger the corporation, the more likely it is for this kind of thing to occur. Of course, I have no visibility into the design/development process or internal culture at Asana. However, looking at the current product, it has all the hallmarks of being managed to death. And I wouldn't be surprised if there was significant team turnover during the development cycle. The harder any product attempts to be for "everyone", the less useful it inherently becomes for "anyone". The safest flavor of ice cream is vanilla (and is probably gluten-free and made with soy). If you make a project management tool aimed at developers, and Trello is a legitimate competing option, that is probably a smell.
You have an excellent point about the UX: it's a nightmare. So yeah, it was unfair to lay this at the feet of designers. I also like your trail mix analogy :-)