It's a pretty exciting time to be a designer. Our tools have literally NEVER been better. They're faster, more powerful, and collaborative, allowing teams and clients to work together from around the globe – all on the same canvas.
But as design accelerates and becomes more and more collaborative, the tools we use to run our design teams need to move forward as well...
About 2 years ago, my agency was feeling this strain. Big time.
We were drowning in so many design notes, tasks and feedback that we didn't know where to start. We'd spend hours in meetings with clients talking about tiny details and big picture changes, then once we were off those meetings we'd still have more to discuss. It was chaos. A single task took days to complete, and changes were often never reviewed properly or were even totally missed.
We needed a better way.
One Friday evening, after a crazy week of us trying to process thousands (yes, thousands) of design notes and questions – both in the form of Figma comments and my own hand-written notes from team meetings, I decided I'd had enough. I decided it was time to solve the problem once and for all.
I started to build.
By Monday morning, after a sleepless weekend downing more coffees than I could count, I messaged the team in Slack to announce that we could finally throw Trello in the bin.
That weekend, Mast came to life.
It was slow, buggy, and to add a new project you had to sign into the database and run an SQL query because I hadn't built out the UI for it. But it was working.
The idea was pretty simple. We'd been using Trello prior to this, and liked the kanban layout it used. That was a paradigm we wanted to keep, but we also didn't want to split all our projects up across multiple boards.
We opted for a 'centralised kanban'. Basically, you can have as many projects as you like, but they all use the same workflow. This isn't so good if you have lots of different departments trying to use the same tool, but as our team is 100% designers, the benefits of being able to track all projects in one board were unavoidable.
That first week with Mast was a game changer. We got more done than ever before, and half way through the week I hacked in a 'shared view' for clients, so they could see with more clarity than ever, EXACTLY what we were up to.
I'd never seen this before in my life...
We're now almost two years on from when the NBS team switched to running on Mast. Since then we've added time tracking to kill off yet another tool from our stack (Toggl) and bring more accountability to time spent (you can track time on a specific task or project). We also added AI summaries, to help make sense of tasks at a glance. And there's so much more in there I haven't mentioned.
The core of the product is still the same as ever though. It's a project tool with an inbox, and that inbox can be connected to Figma, Slack, or any other place you're receiving tasks, with the help of Zapier, giving you one place to see everything that's going on. It's a project tool built for focus, with a centralized workflow for all projects, allowing for a unique 'My Desk' view which cuts out the noise from the rest of the team, and lets you see just what matters to you.
We're incredibly excited to release Mast in early access to other design teams. It's truly transformed our business, and we whole-heartedly believe it has the potential to do the same for others.
You can register for early access or learn more about Mast at withmast.com