We have had a Basecamp account since we began toggle. We were completely sold on the idea of allowing our clients to login and track the progress of projects as well as allowing us to organise and manage our time.
We felt it was like putting a designer into the office of every client, a way to improve communication and bring them closer to the design process. Eight months later and we have decided to change the way we work… Basecamp no longer rocks our socks.
I think our biggest problem with Basecamp has been getting clients to accept it into their workflow. The truth is that nobody wants to sign in to yet another website to see a visual or make comment on it. Basecamp will send out a notification that a new file has been added to the project and that notification is delivered via email. What’s wrong with that? Well it would have been easier to simply send an email with the visual attached in the first place. Email is something everyone understands, its integrated into our lives and the way we work. Making use of it is not only easier for us, but for our clients too. The more I think about email the more I feel the modern web needs to make MORE use of it, take a look at Posterous (they understand completely).
Having learned the lesson that email works much better for our clients we decided to keep using Basecamp for ourselves. The main sections of Basecamp we used frequently were the to-do lists, writeboards and occasionally the time tracking. By far the most important to us were the to-do lists. Both Gemma and myself are big fans of creating to-dos, nothing feels better than checking off an item from the list, you can feel the progress rush every time you do it. The thing with Basecamp is your to-dos are all over the place, each project has its own to-do list (which makes sense on first look) but in reality all we wanted to know is: “What needs to be done today?”. Navigating back and forth between projects to check the various to-do lists is slow progress in Basecamp (why is it so slow to load a page?) and it simply was not working for us. We also did not have a project for “everything else”, a place where we could set non-project related to-do notes such as “ring the tax man”. So we created a generically named project called “General” and set up a to-do area that looked like this:
It worked out very well, suddenly the time we spent clicking around Basecamp fell dramatically and my internal productivity monkey was smiling again.
Over time our usage of Basecamp began to fall, the writeboards were not as feature rich as Google docs (or as convenient) and the time tracking kept being forgotten. We found the best way to manage our time is with Google calendars and its built in reminders. The only thing we could not replace was the to-do lists until we decided to investigate Remember the Milk and found that it now integrates with Gmail:
We now have all our to-do lists right where we need them, they are shared between us and can be added to very easily via Gmail, Email, phone, Google calendar and even twitter. So the time has come to say goodbye to Basecamp, our new setup is simpler, fresher and most importantly saves us time.