A couple of iSource team members recently took to Wunderkit, the free cross-platform cloud task manager, to see if it might help them stay more organized and dole out meaty article ideas more easily. This is their story.
It’s actually also my story, so I’ll take it back into first person now.
I decided to give Wunderkit a try because I was intrigued by the idea of a more social task manager, and I ended up pitching the idea to Patrick and Alex Jordan two weeks ago. The plan was to use Wunderkit to assign articles to people, keep on top of the team posts we wanted to plan, and maybe (just maybe) fall in love with Wunderkit along the way. The reality turned out quite differently, as Patrick uses OmniFocus, I use Things, and Alex uses Notes inside of the Mail app to keep himself organized. In other words, we were all using other systems to begin with, and fitting “yet another app” into the daily routine proved a little challenging. Reminder e-mails proved much more convenient.
Part of the reason we had difficulties making Wunderkit part of our daily workflows were the occasional login and browser issues we encountered. Patrick created an account based on his e-mail but wasn’t part of our iSource work group, and both he and Alex had trouble getting Wunderkit to load up speedily in Chrome. I had no trouble with Wunderkit and Chrome, and I logged in easily with my Twitter account. However, I did time right out of my login session on my iPhone and I didn’t like how I had to completely repeat the login process. I had to type in my Twitter username, password, and then re-authorize Wunderkit to access said Twitter account before I could use the service again. That’s quite a few steps if all I want to do is complete a task or remind myself to buy more milk.
Wunderkit is still in public beta, though, so there’s plenty of time for these technical issues to be ironed out.
Wunderkit works with the concept of workspaces for different activities. By default, you’ll have one personal workspace with your name on it. Within this workspace, you’ll find a set of applets: the Dashboard, Tasks, and Notes. The latter two are self-explanatory, but the former feels more like a transplanted Facebook news feed, tracking and displaying you and others have recently done within that workspace. You can tap on events within the Dashboard and leave a comment or a Heart, or manually update your status using the text field.
One of the first things I did after joining Wunderkit was create a separate iSource workspace. That allowed me to keep personal tasks in the “Thomas Wong” workspace and site-specific tasks within “iSource”. Workspaces are more than just categories for tasks and notes, though. You can fill out all sorts of details for a workspace, such as Dribbble/Skype/Vimeo/YouTube usernames, locations, and even tags. Workspaces are really like digital offices that you can create at the push of a button.
Once I had chosen an awesome workspace icon, I invited Alex and Patrick to join up and then created and assigned a few tasks to them. I created complex and important task items, like “Patrick Tennis Lessons” and “Buy a cat”. Patrick countered by creating a “Renounce Kanadien citizenship” task and assigning it to me (though I don’t plan on ever ticking that off).
There are two things I liked about having social features baked right into the Wunderkit service: it made tracking our activity history automatic and easy, and the push and e-mail notifications could be quite useful. Little bits of data, like the creation date and date of completion, are displayed on the Details screen of any given task, available for any workspace member to check at any time. I also like how push notifications were sent to my iPhone when Patrick assigned me a task or when he completed the tasks I’d assigned him. Patrick didn’t install the iPhone app, so he was sent e-mail updates instead.
Too Much Horsepower
Wunderkit is pretty and I’m impressed with how quickly the developers at 6 Wunderkinder have rolled out the iPhone, web, and Mac apps. One of my big wishlist items for task managers is cross-platform support, and Wunderkit ticked that off on day one of the beta. Unfortunately, the problem is that I just find the whole service a little too overwhelming – a sentiment shared by Patrick and Alex at our latest team meeting.
I can see how comments and the dashboard can be useful for busy teams, but I think the service goes a little overboard on the “social” aspect. I don’t need to “like” how Patrick completed an article, and I’d rather update my status on Facebook or Twitter, rather than within a workspace. Wunderkit works, but it feels too busy and too powerful for my purposes. It seems to be scaled for larger teams or for massive projects, and so doing anything on the lower end of the task spectrum feels like using a chainsaw to cut a loaf of bread, when all I really need is a knife. Applets like the dashboard also seem unnecessary if I simply want to use Wunderkit as a personal task manager.
Wunderkit makes an easy recommendation for larger teams (of, say, ten or more) or for groups that really need to keep track of every single detail on a project. You can still give Wunderkit a shot even if you don’t fit into those categories (it is free, after all), but I think you may find, as I did, that the clever social features can also hinder your productivity and speed within the service. I seem to prefer my checkboxes untethered, unliked, and kept far away from all of my friends.