Over the years, I have tried many project tools to organize workflow and keep a team on track. Some were mandated from a boss above, others recommended by a colleague and still others I’ve found on my own and tried to force on my team. None have worked. Why?
It’s complicated — not the reason for failure, but the systems themselves. I will never forget the day I walked into the head of operations’ office in Ogden years ago. He had printed out the pages of workflow for a new project and taped it to the walls. The immediate effect was stunning, literally! How would we ever work through a process that covered two walls of a room?
Today we have numerous online services that promise to keep entire teams on track, meet deadlines, provide transparency so everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and foster collaboration. Instead of impersonal Gantt charts, these newer apps are filled with color blocks for tracking and friendly faces but take way too much time to use with alerts filling your inbox whenever a change is made. If using a tracking method doubles the time of actually doing the work, I can’t see the point.
I’d like to introduce you to Paste, an unconventional online app designed for making presentations — in other words, a Powerpoint substitute. While it falls short as a presentation maker because there are no transitions and minimal export options, it shines as a simple and effective project management tool. The product was designed by FiftyThree, the app developer of the popular iOS sketching app Paper, and bought in August by file sharing service WeTransfer. In fact, I discovered Paste while transferring presentation files to colleagues via a background ad for Paste that was so attractive, I had to know more.
To get an endorsement from me, a product should be intuitive to use, fill a need and not cost an arm and a leg. (If you have to call for pricing, you can’t afford it.) Paste ticks all the boxes. You can use it for just about any project you can visualize, add team members who can collaborate in real time and add comments to a work in progress. You can write, drag in photos and videos, pdf files, screenshots, Powerpoint presentations and link to webpages that automatically show featured content from the page. And here’s the magic: anything you bring into a slide is automatically laid out with a background color that matches your content. It’s fast and easy. Ready to start?
Sign up for a free account on https://pasteapp.com. Click on “New Deck,” which will open the storyboard view, essentially an array of blank slides. Hover over a slide to see a plus sign, click on it and the slide view appears. Start typing or drag in an image or some other piece of content — you can paste up to four pieces per slide and still have room for text.
You do have options for layouts and many linked services to bring in media. At the bottom of the slide is a short strip of icons beginning with text. Next in line is the photo icon that allows you to bring in files from around the internet. You’ll see 24 service content sources, including documents from Google Drive and OneDrive, posts from Twitter and Instagram, video from YouTube and Vimeo, and songs from Spotify. If you open Giphy or Unsplash, Paste will show you gifs and images related to material you’ve already placed on the slide.
Opening the magic wand tool offers a list of devices that you can select to frame your images or other visual content. For instance, if you choose phone, each of your media pieces will be displayed in a subtle frame that is automatically oriented (landscape or portrait) to fit. You can also opt for a single image to fill the slide or add a graphic shadow to your elements without a device frame.
Moving on to the layout tool, you have three choices: “Intro” (a title slide where one image fills the screen and your type is placed in the foreground), “Show” (photos and other media take up about three-fourths of the screen, text is placed to the side) and “Tell” (use for text-only slides or when you want media to be secondary to text).
For project management, add project updates and notes to slides. The text section is unlimited and a scrolling bar will appear to see everything you’ve written. Use background colors to indicate who is responsible for the tasks on certain slides or for when a task is completed. Use the storyboard view to quickly rearrange the workflow or add new tasks. Use the share feature to collaborate with others — they’ll receive the link to your deck via email. I am sure you’ll find many ways to use Paste for both work and home projects. Right now, I have an event magazine in the works as well as my Christmas craft and entertaining schedule.
Paste is free to use with certain limitations. The free version includes three slide decks for projects and unlimited slides. For $8 a month, you can upgrade to unlimited decks and remove the Paste branding.