I primarily use Boards to organize tasks and quickly see the state of a project in a two-dimensional view. Sometimes, this is to represent a workflow (Up Next, In Progress, In Review, Done), but other times it’s just to see tasks organized by Section (or some other grouping facet).
In this use case, I often want to scroll through the board to get a visual idea of how many tasks are in each column relative to the other columns around it, or quickly pan around the board to go to where I think I know a task currently is.
I also often find myself reading a column while my mouse is somewhere else on the page, then trying to scroll, only to realize my mouse wasn’t in the right place, having to find it, move it to the column, and then scroll, which often breaks my concentration.
Current Behavior: I have to scroll to the column that I think a card is in, and only then can I scroll that column, independently of the rest of the board.
Desired Behavior: Scrolling anywhere on the board scrolls the entire board as a single object, just like a camera moving around.
Scrolling the entire board view together has a couple of advantages for me:
- Quickly gauge relative column sizes visually. When the columns all move up and down together, columns that are much larger than others are immediately noticeable. In my workflows, this is an indication that that column needs triaging to better categorize tasks, or address why so many tasks have built up at that stage of the workflow.
- Faster scanning of the board to find a tasks. Moving together also means I can scan multiple columns at once while scrolling down, instead of having to go to one column, scroll to the end, the go to the next column, scroll again, etc.
- More like a real world movement. When I think about wanting to move to the bottom right of the board, my intuition (thanks to trackpads) is to scroll diagonally in that direction, just like I would move my eyes diagonally when looking at a physical whiteboard. But, as it currently exists, I have to scroll right, then scroll down. And if I want to see the bottom of multiple columns, I have to scroll each down individually.
- Positional consistency. When everything moves together, everything stays in the same position relative to everything else on the page, which makes keeping a mental model of the state of the board much simpler. It avoids needing to remember something like “oh I scrolled this column and this column, but not these ones” and replaces it with a single “I am scrolled to this point on the board”.
Some potential disadvantages:
- Long columns makes for a very tall page. I don’t personally find this to be an issue (mainly because I aim to avoid long columns), but others may not like this look. Comparing the top of one column to the bottom of another also becomes more difficult since they might not both fit in the viewport at the same time. In this case, my solution is to just move cards up and down within their columns to compare them.
- Tall pages can hide shorter columns. Related to the above, scrolling a board with a single long column might push all other columns completely out of the viewport and effectively hide their content if the user doesn’t notice they’ve scrolled. Solutions here are to clearly indicate scroll position (a permanent scrollbar on hover helps greatly), or show an indicator like “more cards above” in columns that appear empty because of scrolling.
Comparisons with Other Apps:
Panning an entire view as a single object is a feature that I mainly see in “whiteboard” or story-mapping apps, where the intent is to have an open canvas where users define their own structure, rather than having the app creating that guidance.
Other tracking applications like Trello (and most of the ones I have found while googling for comparable apps) take an approach similar to Asana’s current Board view, where each column is independently scrollable.
The only application I’ve seen with a defined column-based structure and that is pannable is Favro, which is the motivator for me making this request. Before Asana, I used Favro for roughly 2 years and got very familiar with its intuitive panning controls. It is still limited to unidirectional panning per scroll (only horizontal or vertical in a single pan gesture), but when panning vertically, the whole view moves together.
I believe the unidirectional control in Favro is due to its structure with multiple boards in a column. Because Asana does not have that structure, I believe it could implement proper diagonal scrolling and have an even smoother interaction.
I’m super glad that projects can be viewed as both Lists and Boards now! I think this would be another step towards making Boards feel even more of a first-class citizen in Asana with just as much polish as the List view.