There’s no denying that the face of the workforce is shifting. Last year, a Gallup poll reported that the percentage of workers telecommuting in the U.S. rose to 37%, up from 9% in 1995. While the 28% increase in 20 years is a staggering number, it’s also a trend that hardly shows signs of slowing. Not only does this change the landscape for the traditionalists and the 9-5ers, it also means nearly everyone is in need of new methods to maintain productivity through the madness.Luckily, the technology industry is keeping up. And rightfully so, as the sector is likely both a contributor to and a provider of solutions for the shift. The range of digital project management tools and CRM platforms stretches as far and wide as their Silicon Valley campuses. The short list includes Basecamp, Asana, and Trello, each with their own unique offerings. Of them, Trello is the youngest, launching in 2011, seven years after Basecamp and four after Asana. But that didn’t stop the startup from reaching more than 1 million daily users earlier this year.
In some ways, Trello differs from its competitors in their name alone. Basecamp and Asana are perhaps more obvious names for project managements tools; They’re both words someone could find in the dictionary and they both, in some sense, reference a launching point. Meanwhile Trello is neither of those things. That could be because, according to Dan Ostlund, who wrote about the naming of Trello, “Picking a product name is all agony and no ecstasy. It’s also a giant time-slurping vortex. And in the end, it kind of doesn’t matter.”
Why is it called Trello?
Ostlund, a technical team member at Fog Creek, the parent software company that gave life to Trello, was heavily involved in the naming process. It started simply enough, as he recalled that Fog Creek’s co-founder Michael Pryor suggested Trellis as a code name for the project in its early stages. And here we join the ranks of names like Basecamp, because a trellis is typically used to support the growth of trees or plants.
As the project grew, the team thought they might need more than a code name. They came up with hundreds of names internally, most of which were eventually tossed out because the domains were already spoken for. That’s when they hired someone else to come up with another couple hundred names, including Lasagna, and Ostlund himself suggested another couple hundred. He remembers, “We tried everything: animal names, plays on various aspects of what Trello does (board, card, list, task), Japanese words, and every combination in between. We threw them all at the wall, from the practical to the nutty. Kardboard, Hippolist, 5 Camels, Listly, Idealist—all were suggestions at one point or another.”
Finally, they came full circle. “We thought, ‘maybe we could just use the code name, Trellis.’ Why did it have to change? But, we couldn’t buy trellis.com. They weren’t selling. We tried to buy trell.is, but it was more than we wanted to spend.” A return to the drawing board yielded another 150 names that they compared against available dot coms. Despite the numerous options, Trellis stayed in the running. So eventually they began trying variations of the code name. As luck, however late, would have it, trello.com was available for a reasonable price.
Despite all their time and effort, Ostlund maintains that the product is much more important than the name. He argues that people once made fun of the iPad when it was named, but consumers get used to it. Given the success of Trello, he might be onto something. Available in Brazil, Germany, and Spain since last year, the company reports more than 14 million sign ups to date and 150,000 new users each week– all from a freemium model that offers free basic service.
SEE ALSO: Why is Asana Called Asana?
The premium version of Trello was released in 2013 and app integrations with other tools like Slack, Salesforce, and GitHub, arrived for paid users in 2015. Both versions use the kanban paradigm for project management, displaying projects on boards that contain lists of related tasks. The lists then contain cards, which users can move between, assign to team members and comment or vote on.
Ultimately, Trello enables teams to organize and work together even if they don’t share an office space (and if they do).
Thanks for reading Why is Trello called Trello! What’s your favorite Trello feature? #whyisitcalledTrello.
Annelise Schoups is a contributor at Rewind & Capture. With a degree in journalism, experience in public relations, and an education in travel, she is passionate about cultivating knowledge and storytelling.