How Does Doolphy Stack Up To Its Peers?

As our list of reviews makes clear, the market for project-management apps is not an empty one. From the ever-popular Basecamp to free, open-source solutions such as TeamLab, project managers are not lacking for options.

Which is why, as one of our writers wrote recently, when it comes to project-management apps, “it’s less about how many features the app has and more about its usability and interface design.”

On that note, let’s see how Doolphy stacks up against the competition.

Overview

Doolphy

Doolphy's Dashboard

Doolphy is “an online project management tool that helps you to plan, check and control your company projects and all their associated tasks.”

With several pricing plans, Doolphy can be used to manage one project or 100 projects, and it includes features for task delegation, time tracking, expense reporting, user charts, file sharing, and project reports.

Getting Started

The account-creation process for Doolphy is quick and basic. Choose what kind of account you’d like (ranging from a free account all the way up to the enterprise level), give them your email address, create a password, tell them what country you live in and how you heard about them, then just confirm your email address through the email they send, and you’re ready to start your first project.

How Doolphy Stacks Up

Creating a project

I said above that, because of feature parity, the major selling point for project-management apps has to be its usability and design. Unfortunately, when I went to create my first project on Doolphy, I ran into my first red flag.

Creating a project in Doolphy

How Doolphy handles creating a project

It’s not that the design is ugly or that that process is cumbersome. It’s that neither the design nor the process suggests that Doolphy is trying to one-up the competition.

My response to its usability and design is subjective, of course, and maybe it’s not fair to critique what amounts to a standard web form. But compare Doolphy’s form to the “create a new project” form in 37Signal’s Basecamp, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Don't get excited. This is 37Signals.

Basecamp makes creating a project simple. Just name your project and tell them who has access to it. That’s it. The design of their form is basic, of course, but it’s the usability of it, the process of it, that sets it apart.

Competitiors 1. Doolphy 0.

Adding a Task

The detailed forms continue when you start adding tasks to your project. To be fair, comparing Doolphy’s process to Basecamp’s might be like comparing a combustible engine to a bicycle, since the competitive advantage of Basecamp is what its developers DON’T include in the application.

But what if we compare Doolphy’s task-creation process to, say, the task creation in Flow.

Here’s how Doolphy asks you to create a new task.

New Task Form

9 different fields in Doolphy.

Not only does Doolphy ask you to complete nine different fields before you create the task, but the form itself looks…pedestrian.

Here’s how creating a task looks in Flow, and I think you’ll agree that the difference is striking (there’s a reason why our review of Flow highlights its sex appeal).

New Task

Are you sure that's a web app?

Flow asks its user to fill out five different fields, with the option for more. Doolphy, as I said above, asks for nine. While Doolphy’s form fields are just as optional as Flow’s, the fact that Flow hides the complexity of the options is to its credit.

But more than just comparing the number of form fields, we have to compare the look and feel of those designs. With Flow, you can tell that the developers have put a lot of time and effort into making sure that their app looks and feels like a desktop application. But when you look at Doolphy’s form, you have wonder if the company even has a designer on staff.

Competitors 2. Doolphy 0.

Getting the big picture

Another area that reveals how little expertise Doolphy seems to have put into the usability and design of its application is the calendar feature.

A well-designed calendar should give the user a big-picture view of every task in the project. You should be able to scan the calendar to understand what has happened, what is happening, and what needs to happen. If the calendar wants to go the extra mile, it might even tell you who is responsible for what, and whether certain deadlines have already been met. And if it really wants to kick some butt, the calendar will not only sync itself with deadlines and delegations, but it will also let you create new tasks without having to click back to the task page.

But if easy-to-scan is the basic goal, and interactivity is the added bonus, then Doolphy’s calendar fails on both fronts.

Doolphy calendar

Can you make heads or tails of that?

Compare Doolphy’s calendar to the one offered by Apollo, a project-management app we reviewed at the start of the year.

What a calendar should look like

Competitors 3. Doolphy 0.

I don’t mean to pick on Doolphy. I really don’t. But if it’s true that web apps in the project-management category succeed or fail based on their usability and design, then someone needs to make it clear that Doolphy still has a ways to go.

What I Like About Doolphy

I don’t want to come across as a curmudgeon, however. Doolphy does have some nice things going for it. While I don’t necessarily like the look and feel of the app, I do like how you can track your project budget and time, how you can generate a variety of reports (even more if you pay for the app), and how the dashboard includes progress bars on each task to tell you where everything is in the process.

Doolphy's nice dashboard

In fact, if Doolphy was the sole app in the category, I’d have no problem recommending it as a useful tool for both amateur and professional project managers.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately for Doolphy, the project-management category is flooded with apps that are better designed, easier to use, and more friendly to look at. It offers a rich feature set that would be helpful to any project manager, but with prices ranging from free to $134/month, a decent product comparison should probably lead a project manager to choose elsewise.


Summary

Doolphy is an online project management tool that helps you to plan, check and control your company projects and all their associated tasks.

  • Doolphy  | 
  • Free, $16, $47, $134  | 
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