Happy 20th birthday Jira! You suck so bad.
What is Jira?
For those lucky enough not to know, Jira is the biggest and by far most popular project management and issue tracking tool in and out of the software development space, developed by Atlassian, founded in 2002, and still one of Australia’s biggest international startups.
Atlassian has created an insanely powerful, customizable tool which boasts robust integrations, every product management feature you could ask for, and yet it seems that it’s often not the case that it’s seen as a piece of software more than it’s seen as a way of life. People live by Jira, and they’ll die by Jira, and I think it just sucks.
How does Jira suck?
The Workflow Detriment
Jira—as the software that handles my issues in a daily basis—should be the piece of software that I interact with the most on the daily aside from a team communication platform. ie. Discord, Slack, etc.
However, as much as I want to use Jira in that way, it just can’t be well-integrated into my workflow. It is tucked away into my web-browser, with slow load times combined with convoluted & unintuitive nested navigation to get where I need to go. I should not need to have a special, dedicated “Jira Hole” in my bookmarks to use it effectively.
Design Oversight Extravaganza
Jira is riddled with what are quite frankly some of the worst design oversights I have seen in any piece of “enterprise ready” software in my life.
Dare you accidentally hit the wrong key while crafting a lengthy, yet beautifully written text: it shall be sent to the nether never to see again, not a warning in sight. I often find myself in navigation loops, find myself making dead-clicks, or having to click buttons that are not buttons to get where I need to go.
User experience & user interface design is a very specialized and developed topic in 2022, I’d even consider it a science at this point, and Atlassian has managed to do it so poorly I simply cannot even fathom what is going on behind the scenes. I am a very download-happy person when it comes to trying out new software, and Jira’s user interface has to be the least intuitive, worst-design piece of garbage I have ever had the displeasure of laying my eyes on.
For software with origins in software development, it baffles me that Jira doesn’t support dark-mode. This means every time I open it, I get flash-banged.
Accessibility & Responsiveness
Thankfully in 2022, 20-years after it was created, Jira has finally addressed the inability for non-sighted users to use their software, yet it’s still not responsiveness to varying screen sizes. Come on.
The lack of a native application combined with the unintuitive UI, convoluted navigation, long loading times, content-layout shifts, inscrutable elements, etc., switching to Jira to edit, update, change or comment on a ticket requires a genuine need for context switching. Meaning it’s very common that you’ll lose momentum on tasks with higher cognitive load directly resulting from Jira.
The cluttered UI alone makes me feel like I’m operating a Boeing 747 in the comfort of my ergonomic chair, all while only having to flip one or two switches and click a button.
Working with Jira is like using the controls of military tank to drive a Tuk-Tuk. Complicated yet slow. Fun fact, when you open lightly populated Jira board view, you download ~24MB of data cross ~350 requests, and every ticket you preview is an additional ~20MB across ~90 requests.
That means if you open the Jira board view, and preview 10 tickets, that’s almost a quarter of a gigabyte that you just downloaded across over 1.25K requests, much of it uncached and redundant.
If we compare this to Notion with a highly-populated workspace, it initially downloads ~13.5MB over ~120 requests, with each previewed page downloading only about ~0.2MB over ~20 requests.
One complaint many others have with Jira is just how customizable it is, management will go absolutely crazy with making Jira a completely new product, implement blocking processes and intense red-tape, and that’s why when someone complains about Jira the catch-all response is either “you’ve configured it wrong,” or “you’re using it wrong.”
Despite that fact, my experience with Jira has been rather minimalistic, never have I been on a team with overcomplicated processes around Jira itself, nor did we go crazy with the customizations, yet it was still problematic and abrasive to use.
Why does Jira suck?
Jira promotes bureaucracy-rich workflows that are built to convenience off-the-floor workers, managers, executives, etc., at the expense of those who are interfacing with it on a daily basis. As I outlined in the intro of this post, Jira is an insanely powerful tool, just not for the people who have their sleeves rolled up high. It generates amazing reports, fantastic predictions, fancy charts, great managerial tooling, makes imposing processes easier, has robust integrations, etc., and that’s why most managers I’ve spoken to really enjoy Jira, while on-the-floor engineers either range from fiery-eyed hate to toleration.
I think Jira does a good job of making teams look much busier than they are, but in the end I see it more as a “talk more not do more” situation.
A very common response I get when I ask developers why they use Jira is because they either don’t care, or haven’t found a suitable alternative.
Linear is the perfect antithesis of Jira. Rather than a slow, loose, unintuitive ticket management experience, Linear provides a highly fast and intuitive UI with realtime changes wrapped in a beautifully crafted, opinionated platform built with software developers in mind. It cuts out the unnecessary bureaucracy and leaves engineers with a ticket management experience that integrates very well into their day-to-day thanks to its desktop application, theme customizability, command palette, offline functionality, and speed. It integrates into a plethora of software including Zendesk, Intercom, Figma, GitHub, GitLab, Zapier, and gives you full-access to built custom integrations using their GraphQL interface.
Linear has been a pleasure to use on the teams I’ve worked on that have opted for it, as well as a no-brainer for collaborative personal projects. Although a potential downside to Linear is that it is built explicitly for engineers, thus may not be suitable for other teams such as marketing, design, etc.
If you’ve given Linear a try, but it just doesn’t work for you, some viable alternatives include GitHub Issues, Asana, ClickUp, YouTrack, Trello, Pivotal Tracker, and monday.com.
Real Quotes from Jira Users
If my article wasn’t enough of an articulation of the common frustrations with Jira, a small directory of quotes exists on a website called ifuckinghatejira.com, here are a few excerpts.
Jira is middle-management-ware, a term I made up for software that serves the needs of middle management, or, at least, the needs middle management thinks it has, which comes to the same thing as long as you’re selling to them. What are those needs? Metrics. Being able to make charts and graphs and summarized reports for the next-higher level of management, so they can say that their team is productive.
Every time I open Confluence or Jira I want to claw my fucking eyes out. It’s slow, hard to navigate, and terrible.
Tickets in JIRA are not the work itself, never was and never will be, it is a LARP of the work, but it gets taken for the central thing. This is an illusion. Fixing a bug without filing a JIRA ticket is in itself progress. Moving a JIRA card without any other change is not. Yet the second is what’s visible and therefor what’s rewarded.
I hate Jira. You need to watch a few hours of tutorials to be able to understand this piece of crap.
The momentum of its user base plus incoherent analyst opinions only serve to discourage moving to something actually useful/modern/user centered/updated/etc.
It is bad, really bad, like come on your page takes 5 seconds to load on every click with a 100Mb internet and loads of ram, seriously? I don’t want to talk about the super unintuitive interface. It is basically cancer. And you can’t use something else if your organisation decides to use it.
it’s not meant for devs but for project managers - and project managers like to make the devs do their job in that horrific tool. Imo there should be a dev view that is dead simple, and a PM view with all the complicated bells and whistles.
Even stripped down, it’s still too complicated. The wealth of features tend to lead to practices that can be bad for overall productivity even if they look useful on the surface.
JIRA is powerful. BUT… the UX is bloody awful. As in makes me want to stab myself in the eyes daily. The number of times I’ve lost content due to terrible and buggy UI is growing numerous.
JIRA. Fucking JIRA. Everybody just fucking hates it. It tops the list of shit pieces of software by a fair margin, followed by JIRA in second place and JIRA in 3rd.
Jira presents an excellent exercise on how not to do UX. The interface is slow, cluttered and unresponsive. Want to figure out how to do anything? God help you, because the design certainly won’t.
Jira is so mind bogglingly awful, clunky and slow, I would rather peel off my skin and bathe my weeping raw flesh in a bath of vinegar than have to use Jira for one more day!