Time Management
The Best Kanban Board Online Apps for 2024

The Best Kanban Board Online Apps for 2024

Judy Tsuei
July 27, 2023
Updated on:

The Best Kanban Board Online Apps for 2024
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So you want to Kanban with the best — you’ve got to have access to the right apps.

Great — let’s get started.

First, what exactly is Kanban?

What is Kanban?

A Kanban board is a visual representation of a project or workflow, typically consisting of columns and cards — it means ‘visual card’ or ‘signboard’ in Japanese. Developed by Taiichi Ohno in the 1940s for the Toyota Production System, the Kanban method was initially created for lean manufacturing. That is, to pull resources only when needed, in the same way grocery stores stock shelves to prevent overproduction.

What are the benefits of Kanban? Whether using a physical board or a digital Kanban tool (such as the ones we’ll review later), the Kanban system allows team members and stakeholders to track progress in a visual way, while managing the amount of work getting done at any given time. The enhanced flow brought on by Kanban results in better lead time, efficiency, and reduced waste in resources.

It’s now used today in just about every industry that exists: accounting, software development, social media marketing — you name it.

The key to understanding Kanban and its tools is the core features.

Core features of Kanban

Kanban runs along Agile methodologies, by consistently pushing workflow along so that there’s consistent movement on projects and prioritization. 

A chief part of Kanban is placing task cards in columns and moving them from left to right as it progresses through phases — whether it’s backlogged, in progress, requires checking, or is done, it’s a clear visualization of who needs to do what, and where.

1. Columns and swimlanes:

A Kanban board uses columns to represent workflow stages (like To Do, In Progress, and Done) , enabling easy tracking and understanding of task progress. Swimlanes categorize work items based on criteria like team members, priority, or project phases.

2. Cards or sticky notes:

The core of a Kanban board is the cards — each representing a single task. Kanban cards also include essential information such as assignee, status, and due dates. Kanban cards can be moved across columns (from left to right) to indicate progress, promoting transparency and team collaboration.

3. WIP limits:

Kanban boards employ work in progress limits, or WIP limits, constraining the number of tasks in each column. These limits prevent resource overload, promote focus, and encourage task completion before starting new ones. Visualizing WIP limits highlights where in the workflow bottlenecks happen.

4. Metrics and analytics:

Kanban boards often incorporate analytics and performance metrics to provide valuable insights into how long tasks take, giving insight to how well a team is doing. Something useful to consider is which area or which days of the week you see work bottlenecks happening — this might clue you in on where the flow of work starts to break down. 

Best practices for Kanban board setup

When it’s your first time making a Kanban board, it might be tempting to dive in and create a variety of columns representing all sorts of categories. When it comes to building one for work, however, simpler is better, especially when you’re catering to teamwork and including multiple people already!

kanban board

Column setup

Keep it to three or four columns. As mentioned above, the most common setup includes To Do, In Progress, and Done.

You might find it helpful to include a Blocked column between In Progress and Done. This represents a phase where you’re hitting a roadblock; maybe you need a bit of Q&A love, a client’s response, or additional material. This brings better flow to your task management and brings transparency to Kanban teams.

Keep it simple! The less columns, the better — if you’re trying to focus on work and blaze through it, keeping your board clean and clear makes it easier to figure out what’s next.

WIP limits

You can also set work in progress limits judiciously, to make sure that nobody on the team (or yourself, if you’re trying to manage your own time) is focusing on too many tasks at once. Set expectations and pace by putting this as a limit. Not only do you increase the focus on the list of tasks done, you’re likely to also increase quality on those tasks.

Use swimlanes sparingly

A lot of Kanban apps now include swimlanes — whether it’s an express priority lane for critical projects that have to divert resources or simply different lanes for different teams on a project, they’re separate rows on top of each other that let you see what others are doing and/or push something more critical to the top. Make use of visual hierarchy to keep important things topside. But if everything is critical, nothing is critical — use swimlanes only when necessary.

Card tags

One of the advantages of using Kanban software (versus whiteboards with sticky notes, for instance) is card tags. Tagging by type of work (Writing, Coding, Design), by team member, or by client are great ways to utilize tags. When you tag things this way, most Kanban boards let you simplify your view so that you’ll see only the cards tagged with that quality. In order to manage multiple streams of work, being able to see everything due for a team member or everything a client currently has in the backlog is an incredibly useful feature. 

The power of Kanban is in the capability for collaboration — overloading a Kanban board without the ability to tag becomes a problem that eventually requires somebody to fix it down the line. If that somebody is you, you might as well save yourself some work!

Link those cards

Linking cards to either the email, the work link, or a doc can save people tons of time. Rather than asking (or being asked), “Where’s that Google doc link?”, team members can skip straight to the Kanban, grab that link inside the requisite card, get it done, and push that card into the next lane to keep it pushing. Using Kanban is great for project management because it reduces these little drags on efficiency.

The power of Kanban is that it cuts out a lot of unnecessary meetings or communications; if you needed the file and Bradley isn’t on at that moment (especially in the era of remote work), it might be easier just to dig that file up from your shared Kanban!

Also consider using nested subtasks and checklists! You can add subtask checklists to cards, making it easy to check things off and get the cycle moving.

Integrate with apps

A variety of current Kanban apps also have existing integrations with other apps. Whether it’s the ability to open up Microsoft files from other Microsoft formats (long a virtue of using Microsoft Teams), or transferring Toggl timing over to ClickUp without switching apps, these integrations can be incredibly useful for creating efficiency.

Clockwise, for example, can be integrated with Asana to neatly and efficiently populate a Kanban and then divvy up work as needed — a highly efficient way to delegate Kanban work without having to think too much about it.

Check in regularly and continuously improve

Truth is, Kanban boards aren’t miracles; if you don’t use them, they won’t provide any benefit. Keeping the Kanban up to order could be the responsibility of the manager on the team, and keeping everybody up to date on the Kanban means that everything is done, and in-between chatter/communication becomes less necessary — but only if you want that to be the case.

If we’re pulling in Agile principles, keep in mind that Kanban is best when customized to the team, the project, or the industry at hand. It makes sense to update the Kanban in use as you go along, and analyze what the workflow looks like so that you can catch bottlenecks. 

If you’re running into the issue of the accounting team never being able to clear the backlog once everything’s sent out, maybe that’s where you need a new hire. Another possibility is that your marketing team has great writers, but runs into a stopping point once you require graphical assets - maybe another designer is needed there.

Take suggestions from the people using the Kanban, if you’re the one in charge! Agile and Kanban are built around making sure that all processes and protocols originate from the team first - they’re not handed down from above and assumed to work best. What works best is dependent on the individuals. Some of the best stuff about Kanban boards are they update in real-time, so any changes can be discussed and pushed out immediately before the next cycle time for a sprint.

Best Kanban boards by category

Ready to get started with your own digital Kanban board? Below are our top seven picks for Kanban project management:

Asana: best with integrations

As mentioned before, Asana integrates beautifully with various third-party applications, enhancing productivity and enabling users to consolidate their work in a single platform. Additionally, Asana's user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation make it an ideal choice for teams of all sizes, ensuring efficient communication, collaboration, and project execution. Clockwise also integrates seamlessly with Asana, adding the ability to put a little AI magic into your Kanban workflow.

Top Asana features:

  • Integrations (top of class AI productivity support with Clockwise, as well as Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft, Google, Dropbox — you name it)
  • Workflow Builder — Automate parts of the the workflow after you build it
  • Review and approve creative work in one place (within app!)

Free option: Yes!

Microsoft Project: best suited for enterprise solutions

Microsoft Project is an excellent project management tool with powerful Kanban board functionalities. What sets it apart is its seamless integration with other Microsoft Office products widely used in businesses. If you already have Word, Excel, and Outlook use in your workflow, integrating Microsoft Project makes transferring things over far easier. 

Top Microsoft Project features:

  • Microsoft Office Product Integration (see Sharepoint, Outlook and Excel functionality!)
  • Cost tracking for projects — useful for enterprise clients
  • Robust reporting functionality

Free option: No

Jira: Best for Agile software development

Developed by enterprise giant Atlassian, Jira is a powerful project management tool designed for Agile software development. With its strong connection to the Agile methodology, including involvement from original Agile creators, Jira is a go-to for many software development teams. Jira offers powerful features, such as backlog management, sprint planning, and burndown charts. They also offer extensive integration options and are built to execute sprints.

Top Jira features:

  • Integrations with Github and Zendesk — super tech-oriented!
  • Includes Scrum board features
  • No code automation — super neat way to create rules and automate common tasks

Free option: Yes!

Wrike: best for marketing agencies

Wrike was built with marketing agencies in mind. With their built out templates and their enterprise security, Wrike is great for putting together projects and moving it from creator to client in as few steps as possible. Their variety of templates for shared work is great for when you need to build a deck on the fly! Wrike’s customizable dashboards and Kanban boards have all the core features too.

Top Wrike features:

  • Work Templates — Whip up something beautiful, quickly, with your team!
  • Customizable Dashboards based on Department (Enterprise Level)
  • Unlimited Subtask Nesting — create subtasks under subtasks under subtasks!

Free option: Yes! best paid solution is one of the best paid solutions for effective work management. Its intuitive interface, extensive feature set, and high level of customization make it a standout choice for teams and businesses. With, users can easily collaborate, plan, and execute projects with efficiency and precision. 

The platform offers versatile tools such as Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and automated workflows, empowering users to streamline their workflows and stay organized. Furthermore,'s user-friendly interface and customizable options provide a seamless user experience, making it the top choice for those seeking a comprehensive and flexible project management solution.

Top features:

  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Gantt charts for the serious-minded
  • Really quick and easy to onboard

Free option: Yes!

Trello: best free option

Trello stands out as a no-frills, easy to start with Kanban solution. It’s free, easy to start and easy to share, with plenty of integrations — these do cost money, however, to add, but the core features are free.

Its user-friendly interface and intuitive design allow users to quickly grasp the Kanban methodology and start organizing their tasks and projects. With Trello, creating boards, adding cards, and moving them across columns is as simple as drag-and-drop. It’s ideal for folks just starting out with Kanban, with its streamlined interface.

Top Trello features:

  • Easy and intuitive to start
  • Lots of free options and the ability to add more integrations for money
  • Create multiple boards for personal Kanban projects

Free option: Yes!

ClickUp: best customization

ClickUp is a colorful, visually striking solution. It offers a visually customizable Kanban solution that caters to various preferences and needs. One standout feature is the option for a dark mode interface, which provides a sleek and stylish appearance while reducing eye strain. In addition to Kanban boards, ClickUp allows users both board and list view, making it easier to see tasks in macro or micro-view.

Top ClickUp features:

  • Clean, crisp layout
  • Tons of colorful customization
  • Full-screen dashboard and multi-list or Kanban board view

Free option: Yes!

Going forward

Whether it’s just you or you’re building a team for an organization, Kanban boards are undoubtedly useful for making your work the picture of productivity and efficiency. Hot tip: they’re also a great way to keep track of how much you’re doing and if you’re using date metrics, it’s a great way to build up a living record of all the wins that you’re getting. With its origin in Agile, Kanban has gone from revolutionizing car manufacturing at Toyota all the way to multiple successful implementations at BBC, Pixar, and Spotify.

About the author

Judy Tsuei

Judy Tsuei is a Simon & Schuster author, speaker, and podcast host. She’s been featured in MindBodyGreen, BBC Travel, Fast Company, Hello Giggles, and more. As the founder of Wild Hearted Words, a creative marketing agency for global brands, Judy is also a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed accelerator. Judy advocates for mental and emotional health on her popular podcast, F*ck Saving Face. Follow along her journey at

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