Unchanging Gears

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Illustration by Nate Otto John Stallworth has been selling hardware and fixing bikes at his shop on Chicago’s South Side for 50 years, helping to anchor a neighborhood that’s struggled with population loss and divestment. John’s Hardware and Bicycle Shop is the kind of old-fashioned business that’s happy to sell customers two nails instead of a… keep reading

Hey! Write better emails with Basecamp

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And GIFs! Before I worked on Basecamp’s support team, I freelanced as a writer and editor. One of my less glamorous gigs was contributing to a textbook teaching non-native speakers how to write business emails in English. Language stuff aside, I’d be researching emoji or “netiquette” or how tone rarely transmits over text, and catch… keep reading

The Art of Designing With Heart

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How to make useful, friendly software for real people. One of the things I love about making software is that it’s a deeply mental exercise, chock full of heady processes, abstractions, and interconnected pathways. You can fill your brain with the practical nuts and bolts side of it—research, strategy, prototyping, programming, UI, operations, and more. Lots… keep reading

It’s OK to be pragmatic (with a little help from the “crazy ones”)

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Being pragmatic is engrained in me. I’m at my best being practical and boring. Here’s the problem — experience has taught me that you’ll never do your best work through sheer pragmatism alone. While I’m good at weighing options and making decisions, I’m not that visionary who can conceptualize grand ideas. While planning comes very naturally to… keep reading

What I Did with My Summer at Basecamp

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“Talk to one user…start jumping to a solution. Talk to 5+ users…start understanding the problem.” — Luke Wroblewski As I looked on from a corner of a cramped camera storage room, the junior Production Assistant asked a simple question about film editing. He and his team were in the middle of a tense conference call, trying to… keep reading

My Adventure at Basecamp

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The greatest summer camp there ever was This summer, we worked on building the best Basecamp we know how to build. We chatted around Campfires, and as interns, were guided along the way with a mentor. We leave with new skills — not necessarily learning how to fish, how to fight off a bear, or how to live… keep reading

Improve your App by Connecting the Dots.

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Improve instead of redoing The Basecamp 3 app for Android is designed and maintained by a team of three people: Dan Kim, Jay Ohms, and me. We keep pace with the rest of the company because it’s a hybrid app—native code plus mobile web views. New Basecamp features usually work in the Android app without us… keep reading

(Not) Shipping is a Virtue

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One of the most important Basecamp features I ever designed never actually made it into the product. Back in 2009, I designed the due dates for To-dos feature in Basecamp Classic (looking back it’s hard to believe Basecamp was without due dates on To-dos for its first 5 years!). Shortly after we thought it might be… keep reading

In defense of junk stats (and junk food)

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A reasonable amount of indulgence makes reasonable sense I think Noah Lorang is exactly right on the data-nutritional value of real-time dashboards. It’s all empty calories. Like a bag of M&Ms or a serving of McD french fries. Salt, fat, and sugar. If that’s the main diet of information you’re using to grow your business,… keep reading

Product Design Decisions: What’s in a name? Purpose!

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What you call it is probably better than what we called it Recently we launched a major new feature in Basecamp 3 that allows people to rename Basecamp’s six core tools on a project-by-project basis. Quick refresher: Every Basecamp project includes these six tools: Message Board (for writing up long-form announcements, pitches, presenting work, sending something… keep reading