HiTask: UI is Not Enough

HiTask LogoHiTask is a spiffy-looking new web-based task management application that I really want to like. The user interface is full of Ajaxy goodness and well-thought-out functionality that makes it both easy and fun to use. But alas, in the current run of web applications a great user interface isn’t enough to make an application compelling, and there are a few other areas where HiTask doesn’t quite make it for me.

Let’s start with the high points. After signing up (a one-minute process, with no e-mail confirmation necessary), entering a new task is as simple as typing the task name into a box and hitting a button. In addition to tasks, you can track meetings, reminders, notes, and birthdays. The editing interface is super-fast, and you can flexibly categorize your tasks: drop them on a date on the calendar to schedule them, drop them on a team member to assign them, or group them by project or color flag. There’s enough depth here to satisfy the GTD crowd while those who want simplicity can ignore the bells and whistles.

Though there’s no concept of numerical priority, organizing tasks is as simple as dragging them around on the list so it’s easy to move the more important tasks to the top. The dragging and rearranging is all very smooth, and except for a few bobbles (dates can’t be set to local format, for example) the UI is very nice. There’s even a built-in chat client to let you talk to team members directly over the HiTask interface.

So what’s missing here? For starters, the free trial version is barely enough to get a taste of what’s going on. When you hit ten tasks, you either need to delete some or pony up $12 (via PayPal) for a year of service in the “Pro” version to remove the limits. Much worse, though, is the data lock-in: HiTask tasks can’t be printed, exported, or synchronized to anything else. Synchronization is a tough problem in general, but to not even give me a way to get my tasks out to a text file is a big disincentive to put them in to this application in the first place.

If HiTask can figure out a way to make their data play nicely with others, and perhaps open up a more realistic trial version, I’d rate them worth checking out. As it is, they’re an interesting entrant in the Web 2.0 sweepstakes, but not a winner.