Can you believe we used to willingly tell Google about every single visitor to basecamp.com by way of Google Analytics? Letting them collect every last byte of information possible through the spying eye of their tracking pixel. Ugh.
But 2020 isn’t 2010. Our naiveté around data, who captures it, and what they do with it has collectively been brought to shame. Most people now sit with basic understanding that using the internet leaves behind a data trail, and quite a few people have begun to question just how deep that trail should be, and who should have the right to follow it.
In this new world, it feels like an obligation to make sure we’re not aiding and abetting those who seek to exploit our data. Those who hoard every little clue in order to piece of together a puzzle that’ll ultimately reveal all our weakest points and moments, then sell that picture to the highest bidder.
The internet needs to know less about us, not more. Just because it’s possible to track someone doesn’t mean we should.
That’s the ethos we’re trying to live at Basecamp. It’s not a straight path. Two decades of just doing as you did takes a while to unwind. But we’re here for that work.
Last year we stopped using pixel trackers in our Basecamp emails. This year we’re celebrating the start of a new decade by dropping the last third-party tracking pixel on basecamp.com. Now when you visit our marketing page, you only have to trust that we won’t abuse that data – not a laundry list of third parties you have no reasonable chance of vetting.
We still track that someone visited our page, but it’s really only the basics that interest us. How many people visited the page? Did a new pitch work better than the old? How many people signed up? Basic stuff like that. And basic stuff doesn’t require overly sophisticated tooling, so it’s fine that our homegrown package isn’t nearly as fancy or as piercing as offerings like Google Analytics. It doesn’t need to be.
We still aren’t entirely free of Google’s long data arm, though. You can still sign-in with Google, though we’d encourage you to switch to our new two-factor authenticated, WebAuth-capable in-house system. We’ll be deprecating the Sign-In With Google path entirely soon enough.
We also still use a variety of other data processors, like Customer.io, for onboarding emails. But going forward, the analysis for when that makes sense has absolutely changed. It’s no longer enough for something to be slightly more convenient or slightly cheaper for us to send data out of the house. Fewer dependencies, fewer processors, fewer eyes on our data and that of our customers is a powerful consideration all of its own.
Untangling yourself from the old paradigm of data is neither quick, easy, nor free. But it’s worth doing, even if you can only do it one step at the time. Think about what steps you could take in 2020.