Look around YouTube at car reviews, and you’ll see a lot of people standing in front of cars. Below I’ve snapped captures of early frames in six car reviews. These represent the first time the car is shown whole, in profile.
Who’s on review here? The car reviewer or the car? Get out of the way people!
Take it from Doug DeMuro. His reviews always start with him standing behind the car. The car is in full view, in all its glory, at center stage. Doug comes second — he understands what the viewer is there for.
Doug in the background. Car in the foreground. Doug gets it.
A number of years ago we bought a new bath tub for our master bathroom. The tub looked something like this:
Man it looked great in the store. SO GREAT. It was luscious. Just look at it. So we bought it.
We couldn’t use the tub until the full bathroom rennovation was done. But once it was, I remember being so excited to try it out that first night. So I filled it up with piping hot water, tossed in some silly bath salts, and got ready to luxuriate.
The first thing I remember was that I couldn’t get comfortable. The sides were sloped in a way that forced me to slide down, vs sit up. I wanted to sit up, but I couldn’t. Or, I should say, if I put my arms outside the tub to hold on I could, but then only half of my body would be in the water. So I’d have this weird mix of hot and cold. It wasn’t right.
Then I noticed that the water was cooling off quite a bit faster than I’d expected. Ah ha, the tub was wide and shallow which meant a lot of surface area for heat to dissipate. Not good. The only remedy was to fill the thing with scalding hot water so it would stay hotter longer, but I was aiming for a soak, not a burn.
Then I realized what happened. We were duped. We bought something that was in-store good, not at-home good.
This happens a lot. The more sensational the claims, the more features on the box, the more something promises to do, the more likely you are to buy something in-store good. It looks great on the floor, it looks amazing in the showroom, the demo’s impressive, but once you remove it from the perfect setting, the perfect lighting, the “I need it” moment, it fails to deliver when you actally get it home.
Now, wait… Couldn’t I have gotten in the tub at the showroom to get a sense of the slope? Wouldn’t I have noticed I’d have slid down the side? In theory yes, but in practice no. You can’t exactly try a tub at a showroom, unless you take baths with clothes on. A clothed body (esp one with grippy shoes on or a belt that creates friction) hugs a curve much differently than a wet, naked, slippery one does. And the heat dissipation part really had to be experienced to even be considered. It just wasn’t something I thought about.
So, now when I buy things I think about them differently. Whenever I’m driven to make an over-enthusiastic purchase, I stop. Why am I so excited about this? Is it the presentation or the product? How’s this going to transition from showroom to living room? What am I going to be doing with this thing? Is it the same as how I’m experiencing it at the store?
So it’s not that an in-store product is bad. In fact it’s very good! It’s just good in the wrong way and wrong place (for you). Making something in-store good is easy. But we don’t live in controlled environments dripping with psychological, consumerism traps. Aim for at-home good.
Summer is winding down, kids are back in school and the Basecamp team has a fresh batch of updates to share. Here’s a quick look at some recent improvements that are available right now in all of your projects.
Getting over the hill
Hill Charts are a completely new way to track progress and a Basecamp 3 exclusive. People everywhere are loving this unique way to see where their projects really stand and answer the hard questions that get them un-stuck. Now it’s much faster to choose which lists to track on the Hill Chart. Take a look…
Clicking someone’s avatar in Basecamp is often the best way to get a little more information about people you’re collaborating with—especially when you work with clients, people you’ve never met, or on a team spread across time zones. Now profiles show you which company someone is a part of, their role in Basecamp (Administrator, Owner, or Client), and what time it is where they live. These details can help you track down an admin, figure out who the new person on the project is, or avoid bugging someone in the middle of the night.
Now you can color folders just like you could other items in Docs & Files. Add a little personality, make something important stand out, or come up with your own color-coding system.
Basecamp features seven distinct tools to handle every situtation in your projects from communicating to organizing to tracking work. With the latest update it’s easier than ever to choose which combination of tools to use on each project.
One of the best things about Basecamp is it keeps everyone on the same page so that nothing falls through the cracks. That only works, however, if the right people are involved in the project. So we’ve removed some steps, cut some complexity and streamlined the process so that getting people into your projects is easier than ever.
Managing My Drafts
You write a lot in Basecamp, we get it. Drafts let you work on that post, announcement, article, or note in private until you’re ready to share it. But not everything gets published and before this update it could be a lot of work to figure out what was what or simply get rid of the ones you no longer needed. With this update, you can see all of your draft Messages and Documents, when they were last edited, and in which project they live. Not only that, but you can trash them right from the list without having to click into each one first. More info, faster edits, less pain = win!
Jump to projects
For Basecamp pros, the Jump Menu is a speedy way to get around in Basecamp. Just hit ⌘+ J to return to something you saw recently or type a few characters to quickly filter Projects, Teams, and People. With our latest update we made it easier to jump to another project by making them pop up to the top of the list. This makes the Jump Menu hands-down the fastest way to get to a project in Basecamp.
Thank you ❤️
We’re so grateful for all our customers and we hope these improvements make your time working more calm, effective, and enjoyable. If you’re not yet a Basecamp customer and feeling overwhelmed because your business is growing, you’re buried in email, stuff is slipping through the cracks, and communication is a struggle maybe it’s time to give us a try. You can try Basecamp completely free and unlimited for 30 days. No credit card needed to sign-up!
The newest release introduces a brand new tab along with improvements to searching, navigation, and for people who have multiple accounts. Get it for iPhone and iPad in the App Store today. Read-on for details about what’s new…
New Me tab!
We know that My Assignments is one of the most popular screens in Basecamp on all platforms but it can be hard to find. Now My Assignments and the rest of My Stuff are easier to reach on the new Me tab. It also includes your Bookmarks and app Settings.
New Activity view switcher
Gone is the old Activity | Reports toggle. Basecamp now has a nice switcher to change between activity views more akin to web and mobile web. It’s easier to see what you’re currently looking at and you now stay on the same screen rather than navigating forward.
Before you search…
Looking for something in Basecamp? Pop on over to Find to see your Recently Visited places and Recent Searches, too. We hope that with this change, Basecamp helps surface what you might be looking for before you search.
Better support for multiple accounts
If you have multiple Basecamp accounts, this one is for you. Now the name of the current account is prominently displayed at the top of Home and Hey. Tap it to switch to a different account.
This is a small change but now when you tap an external link in Basecamp it’ll open with a Safari view right inside Basecamp rather than opening the Safari app. You may have seen this in Twitter and other popular apps already. Now it’s so much easier to get back to where you were in Basecamp when you’re done reading.
Thanks for using Basecamp!
As always, please keep suggestions, feedback, and bug reports coming our way. If you’re interesting in seeing new features before everyone else, we have a few openings left in our private beta. Send us an email and we’ll get you invited.
When we launched Basecamp 3, we introduced a new way for client services firms to work with their clients. We called it the Clientside. It was an entirely separate part of a Basecamp project where all client-facing communications lived. Essentially, it was a mini project within a project — a distinct space with separate tools and a different interface.
Conceptually it made sense, but practically it was inflexible and not collaborative enough. It worked well for some people, but it missed the mark for far more. We fell short of what we hoped we’d be able to create.
So we put our heads together and spent a couple months working on a complete revamp. Today we’re introducing something better.
Introducing Clients in Basecamp!
Starting today, not only can you send messages to clients, but now you can work with clients using all the same tools you already use with your team. That means you can assign clients to-dos, share files and folders, schedule events and meetings, chat around the Campfire, and even ask clients automatic check-in questions! If you can do it with your team, you can do it with your clients. And now it all happens in the same place as the rest of the project — no more separate Clientside. It’s everything you’ve been asking for.
You’re in 100% control of what clients see. Clarity and privacy is at the core of this new feature. That’s why everything in a project is now labeled as “private to our team” or “the client can see this”. Plus, to reduce anxiety and prevent “oh shit, they weren’t supposed to see that” moments, everything in a project starts off as private just to your team. When you’re ready to share something — a message, a to-do, a file — just flip the switch:
Whenever you post something new, you’ll have the option to specify if the client should be able to see it or if it’s private just to your team:
For example, here’s a to-do on a to-do list the client can see. It’s also assigned to Victor, your client:
And here’s a message thread about a revised headshot. The client can see it, and they’ve responded below:
And here’s an email you’ve forwarded in that you don’t want the client to see. It’s been marked private for your team only:
And finally, here’s a combination of files and folders. The client can see some folders, but not others. For clarity, only the ones they can see are labeled with the “The client sees this” tag:
Log-in or email-only — It Just Works!
We all know how hard it can be to ask a client to get used to using a new system. Even an easy system like Basecamp 3. So, Basecamp works even if your clients don’t want to learn anything new. Clients can respond to Basecamp messages right from their inbox, and new email they send you can be forwarded to Basecamp where your whole team can see them. Regardless if whether a client logs in and posts something directly to Basecamp, or they respond to a message via email, you’ll always have everything in one organized place inside the Basecamp project.
Fantastic! How do we turn it on?
Go into a project, click the “Add/remove people” button. This is the same way you’d invite anyone to a project:
2. Then click the green “Add people” button and select “Invite a client to the project” from the bottom of the menu.
Now you’re off and running. Any existing content will be private, and anything new you add to the project will give you the option to mark something as private or visible to the client.
Back to the future?
If you’ve used Basecamp Classic or Basecamp 2, this new setup may ring a bell. You’d be right — it’s based on a similar approach. What’s changed is both the interface and the default privacy setting. In Classic and 2, everything in a project was visible to a client until you marked it private. Problem with that was that you could easily make a mistake and reveal something you didn’t intend to. But then it was too late. That’s why in Basecamp 3 we’ve flipped it. Everything is private by default. You have to expressly give a client permission to see something. It’s much safer this way. Less anxiety ahead.
What if we liked the Clientside?
If you’re an existing customer that used the Clientside in the past, you can continue to use it on any project in your account. It’s no longer an option for new customers, or for existing customers who’ve never used the Clientside before, but if you have, and you still prefer it, it’s all yours. You can even use the Clientside on existing projects and the new way on new projects. Further, if you relied heavily on the Approvals feature, you’ll want to continue to use the Clientside as there’s currently no equivalent feature outside the Clientside.
This is a big change, a big deal. We think you’re really going to like it. You’ll have the power and flexibility to collaborate with clients in true Basecamp style without any of the limitations imposed by the previous Clientside approach. And most importantly, you’ll always have 100% control over what messages, to-do lists, folders, files, Campfire chat, and automatic check-ins your clients can see and participate in. This way you can keep the private work private, and the shared work visible — all in the same project so everything is organized together.
Questions? Comments? Post ’em below. Thanks again for using Basecamp 3!
But dates slip — due dates are shifted, events get moved—and Basecamp didn’t make it easy to see changes to your schedule. Starting today, whenever a to-do you’re assigned or an event you’re participating in is rescheduled, we’ll tell you about it.
Here’s how it works
Before, you’d only receive a notification when you were added to an event in Basecamp 3. Now, you’ll see a separate notification if that event gets rescheduled to a different date or time:
To-dos work a similar way. You’ll see notifications whenever due dates are added or shifted on your assignments:
This was a classic case of “How hard could it be?” that started as a series of customer requests and bug reports. People wanted to see their events AND their dated to-dos on their Basecamp 3 Schedule cards. Totally reasonable, right? Like anything involving dates, timezones, and computers, it took more than a little wrangling… But now you can!
Let There Be To-dos Here’s a great example from our Ops Team. Before, we only showed upcoming schedule events. That triggered a misleading message that said “Nothing’s coming up!”
Why is this misleading? If you click through to the Schedule itself, you’ll see there’s actually a to-do due tomorrow:
You wouldn’t have known that glancing at the Schedule card. With the changes we just added, you’ll now see something like this when you’ve got upcoming to-dos:
Who and When? Another thing was missing from the previous design: It wasn’t clear exactly who was involved in an event and precisely when it was happening. That’s because we just showed the name of the event and the date on which it occurred:
Now, we show avatars for each participant and to-do assignee as well as times for events that happen at a specific time:
Templates Project Templates were also missing to-dos. That led to situations like this where the Schedule looked blank:
In fact, there may have been several to-dos:
We hope this makes Schedule cards more useful for you. Stay tuned for more updates to Basecamp 3!
Got feedback or ideas to share? We’d love to hear what you think about the new features. You can contact us on Twitter or share your thoughts via our Support form.
To-dos in Basecamp are pretty straightforward. At a glance, you can see who’s responsible, when it’s due, and important details you might need to know:
Unfortunately, it’s never been clear who will get notified when you complete a to-do. That made it hard to pass the baton to a coworker or tap your manager on the shoulder when you’ve wrapped things up.
Sure, you could hack things together by @mentioning someone in the Notes field or by subscribing them to comments. But if you just want to be sure someone knows when you’re done, you shouldn’t have to jump through hacky hoops to do it.
Say goodbye to hacks
Now, when you make a to-do in Basecamp, you’ll see a new field labeled When done, notify. Add people you want to notify when the to-do is completed and Basecamp will be sure to tell them about it:
Wondering who will get notified about a task you didn’t create? It’s all spelled out at the top of every to-do:
Basecamp will still send notifications to the original assigner and to everyone who’s left a comment about the to-do. But if you’ve ever wanted to hand work off to a colleague or keep someone else in the loop about a task, now you can be absolutely sure they’ll get the memo.
That’s it for now. We’ve got more great ideas in the hopper, so stay tuned. In the meantime, happy to-do’ing!
Got feedback or ideas to share? We’d love to hear what you think about the new features. You can contact us on Twitter or share your thoughts via our Support form.
Accountants have FIFO (first in first out) and LIFO (last in first out). Product designers have HFEL (hard first easy later) or EFHL (easy first hard later).
No matter the project, there are things you’re more confident about and things you’re less confident about. No brainers, maybe brainers, yes brainers. Assuming you have limited time to complete a project (we spend a maximum of 6 weeks on most projects), you have to decide how to sequence the work. Do you pick off the hard stuff first? Easy stuff first? What to do?
It depends, of course. I don’t have any answers for you, but I can share some of the things we think about when deciding what to do when.
First we get our bearings.
Does this feel like a full project? Is it probably going to take all the time we have? Lots of moving parts? Does this work touch a lot of other things, or is it mostly self-contained? Do we feel like we’ve mostly got it down, or are there some material unknowns we haven’t quite nailed down yet?
If it feels big, and full, and challenging with some significant unknowns, we almost always start with the hard stuff first. The worst thing you can do in that situation is kick big challenges down the road because you’ll inevitably run out of time. You’ll either make bad big decisions that way, or you’ll push the schedule out, or you’ll work late or work weekends. All those are big no-no’s for us, so we tackle the hard stuff first.
Sometimes we start with a quick spike. We put a few days into it and see if we’re able to make any meaningful forward process. That’ll reveal if the problem is really as big as we think it is, or we’ve been overestimating the shadow of worry its been casting. But waiting until later isn’t an option. We chip away at the big rock to see if it’s sandstone that’ll break down easy, or granite that’ll require heavy machinery.
Once we have a sense of where we’re at, we think about what we need, as a team. I don’t mean what does the team need as far as tooling or technology goes, but what do we need emotionally? Do we want to slog along without any short-term visible progress, or can we grab a quick win and start to pick up some momentum? It depends — how did the last project go? Are we coming off a high or a low? If a low, maybe we should find some quicker wins to fuel the spirit. If a win, maybe we’re already feeling good enough about ourselves to go heads down without anything material to show for a few more days. The past plays a surprisingly important role in the present.
We’re currently working on some significant improvements to the way our customers work with their clients in Basecamp 3. It’s a big project, and we’ll likely be working on it over two 6-week cycles. There are unknowns — both technical and visual — but the last time we tried to tackle this problem we ended up putting a lot of work in with nothing to show in the end. We didn’t ship what we built because we 1. didn’t finish on time, and 2. didn’t feel great about what we built, and 3. didn’t want to put more time into a bad time. Therefore, this time, we ran easy and hard in parallel. The programmers worked on a hard problem first, and the designers worked on an easy one. It was a nice way pour the concrete foundation and choose the paint colors at the same time.
On the design side of things, we often try to stay away from the details early. Details can turn into quicksand. We never want to get stuck on something early on — that’s a surefire way to burn too much time on something that’s going to change later anyway. Never ever get stuck on something you just know you’re going to change later. So when we start a design project, we typically go from very big to very small. It’s a bit different from choosing hard first or easy first, but it’s still a choice. We still have to decide where to begin.
One other thing I wanted to add, but don’t know where to put: We aim to avoid feeling like we have something to prove. That’s hero language, and we don’t do hero. We do work. We have work to do. Big and small — we’re satisfied by doing good work and getting it done in the time we give ourselves up front. Heros are only satisfied by rescuing things, doing the impossible, or saving the world. We’ll leave those antics to teams that run on fumes. We’ll run on a good night’s sleep.
I wrote this essay without reading it back — a stream of consciousness burst. I’ve had a bit of writer’s block this week, so I’m trying to bust through by just writing raw thoughts and getting my fingers moving again. I hope it was helpful. Any questions?
Last month, we shared a sneak peek at some major design improvements we’ve been cooking up for Basecamp 3. Today’s the day — you’ll see those changes in your Basecamp account right now!
There are countless little tweaks and improvements throughout the entire app, but here’s quick recap of the most important new stuff.
The examples we showed in the preview still stand: improved navigation, colors, and typography, better use of space on desktop screens, and more consistent placement for buttons, headers, and menus. These changes apply everywhere.
New Comments Design
Comments got a big upgrade. We wanted to give comments their own identity and charm, while reducing the metadata noise that had built up around the actual writing. They’re friendly and easier to read, too.
New Options Menus
There’s a slick new design for the ••• options menus that appear on every page. We consolidated all page options into these menus, so now there’s just one consistent home for all the actions you can take, rather than having various buttons and links scattered in several different places. Note: Edit and Bookmark have been moved in here too.
New Breadcrumbs Shortcuts
We built on the breadcrumbs navigation in a couple ways.
First, there’s a new and improved quick-jump button, so you can easily hop between any of the tools in a project. (The project’s name used to to pop up this menu, but now the name is a simple link, just like the rest.)
Second, now you can click anywhere on the white “back sheet” to go back up one level—or click it multiple times to go back multiple levels.
Unified Buttons and Themes
Buttons got a lovely facelift (they’re all round now) and they’ve been themed to match whatever custom color theme you’ve picked. We also sprinkled the theme color on a variety of other elements.
Tidier Message Composing
Posting a message in Basecamp is an important moment, and it should feel GOOD. We simplified the message categories picker, cleaned up the new-message screen, and gave you more space to breathe—and write.
Updated Design for Clientside
If you use Clientside, you’ll notice a few changes. Now there’s a big button at the top of the project to access the Clientside (this replaces the old tabs). The Clientside is now on a white sheet, and message threads are updated too.
Those are just the biggest changes. There’s a lot more than we can list here—so go forth and explore it!
We’re just getting started
We think the refreshed Basecamp 3 is more cohesive, modern, and sophisticated, but still friendly and familiar too. We hope you enjoy the changes as much as we do.
And this is only the beginning. These updates set the stage for a ton of additional improvements we’re planning to make, so keep an eye out for those coming soon. It’s gonna be a great 2018.