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Find yourself struggling to stay on top of the never-ending to-do list? Or maybe you’re having a difficult time tackling projects? Thanks to Basecamp you can delegate, manage and never miss another deadline. In 1999, a software development company called 37Signals created Basecamp for internal project management for their programmers, including co-founder Jason Fried—they found it so useful themselves, they offered the service to others. After its rapid success and several products later, in 2014 they officially re-named the company “Basecamp” and have been solely focused on it ever since. Learn more about the basics of Basecamp, why people love it so much and how you can get started (for free).
What Is Basecamp?
Basecamp is a simple-to-use online project management tool. It doesn’t require any software or downloads to use. Just open a browser (or their mobile app) and you can create a project, assign a task and give it a due date. Each project allows you to invite members to participate and users can only see the project(s) they’ve been invited to. There are also message boards to post important information, check-ins, a Campfire chat and more tools to keep everyone on the same page.
Basically, instead of having your inbox be your to-do list, you can go to Basecamp to see what tasks are the highest priority by viewing your assignments and due dates. It also helps thread together conversations about a particular topic so they can be archived (and searched) for future reference. Then, loop people in if and when the task becomes relevant to them and they can reference the history of the conversation for context without you having to fill them in.
Who Uses Basecamp?
Basecamp is perfect for freelancers and small to medium sized businesses. It’s especially ideal for virtual teams and people of all experience levels because it has a low learning curve. And since developers created it, many fellow coders are fans of Basecamp too.
Basecamp Project Management Review
There are three versions of Basecamp: Basecamp Classic, Basecamp 2 and Basecamp 3. They’re all somewhat similar regarding capabilities and features but since Basecamp 3 is the latest and greatest we’ll be reviewing it. If you’re asking yourself why are there 3 versions? Rest assured we wondered the same thing. Long story short – there used to not be an upgrade path (now there is), so users had to start new projects in the new version while they phased out on the old version (which was then provided for free so you wouldn’t be double billed). Now that there is an upgrade path, they’re still pledging to maintain all versions forever (simply because some users prefer the older versions we suppose).
- Each project has its own schedule, to-do lists, message board, documents and files
- Everything you type is autosaved so if your web browser crashes or you close a tab what you wrote is not gone (unless you clear your cache)
- Drag and drop to-dos between lists, rearrange and customize each project’s dashboard and create project templates
- Get a glimpse of the upcoming schedule, progress by project or company-wide
- Create reports on what people have done, what’s due soon and more
- It’s straightforward design makes it easy for anyone to learn quickly
- Used by more than 2 million users across the world
- Basecamp moves your virtual workspace from email to one centralized place online
- It’s a great way to know whose court the ball is in versus passing an email back and forth
- No tasks get forgotten because you get email notifications when it’s close to being due (or past due)
- Add or remove people to projects so when they join (or leave) the company, they can jump right in (or not have access anymore)
- If you work with multiple companies that use Basecamp you can use one login to toggle between accounts without having to sign in and out
- Search through all projects, pings, chats, events, comments and files and filter by project or person
- Once something is done, mark it complete, and it can be searched again if need be, in the future
We’ve been avid users of Basecamp since 2012 to manage all our projects and tasks here at We Rock Your Web, so we’ve seen it grow and evolve over the years. Since we’re so intimate with the product, we have some additional suggestions for Basecamp that we think could make it even better. The good news is, Basecamp actively listens to user feedback and implements suggestions (albeit only in the latest version, in this case Basecamp 3). So hopefully some of these will be implemented soon (if not already).
- Ability to turn off “Hey” pings (August 2017 update: resolved via “Focus” mode)
- Some simple tasks in Basecamp 3 require multiple clicks where it was easy to do in Basecamp 2 (i.e. changing a due date, adding or removing someone from a comment and reassigning tasks)
- You must manually remove people from being notified each time you comment (even if they’ve already been unchecked and removed from the task already)
- Not being able to edit date due and who assigned to without leaving screen in “my assignments” (was an option in former Basecamp 2)
- Thanks to the August 2017 update, you can now bulk move or change due date for tasks however, it would be great to do this from the “my assignments” view too
Have any other fixes or ideas you’d like to see in the mix? Either let Basecamp know via Twitter or comment below and we’ll add them to our list (if we agree 😉 ).
Basecamp’s fixed-fee pricing means you don’t have to worry about how big your team is or how many projects you have.
- Basecamp costs $99/month (or $1,000/year) for unlimited users, unlimited projects.
- 50% off for non-profits and charities and it’s free for teachers and students.
- 30-day free trial (no credit card required).
What Do Users Have to Say?
What do other customers think of Basecamp? See below for a sampling of user feedback we found online.
Positive Basecamp Reviews
Between my testing Basecamp for PCMag and using it for real projects in the past, I have a lot of experience with the tool. In practice, I’ve found that it was especially useful in communicating with teams who were physically distant, particularly those working in different time zones (since it doesn’t offer real-time status updates). It’s also very adept at handling images and artwork. If you add image URLs to a project discussion, Basecamp displays the image rather than just the link. That’s really helpful and convenient when working with art directors and other visual creatives. – Jill D., PC Mag 5/4/2015
I post on 12 different projects a day. Each one is different and the tools help with this! The clients are well informed and the team is very organized! Any time there is an issue, if there ever is an issue, the help is quick and informative. The helpful people at Basecamp address issues right away. The apps and desktop versions are both easily accessible and easy to use. I can basically work from my phone or from home desktop computer. My work computer is always open in Basecamp. I have no complaints or compliments. I’m sure if I were to have an issue with the service integration, the people at Basecamp would respond promptly. – Maggie, Consumer Affairs 11/4/2016
Negative Basecamp Reviews
However, Basecamp 3 is not exactly perfect–at least not yet. The fact that to-do list items cannot be set to recurring is definitely an oversight. As I have said, the lack of a traditional calendar view may rub some users the wrong way. And most importantly, the fact that there is no API for add-ons means that there is no way to plug the holes from which Basecamp 3 certainly suffers. Hopefully, these things are on Basecamp’s list of future updates, and we will see them showing up in the near future. – Wesley K., Merchant Maverick 6/6/2016
If your team really clicks on Slack, HipChat, Trello and other tools like that. You probably won’t find much joy in BC3. It’ll probably feel limited to you, compared to those more advanced (or at least customisable (sic) and extendible tools). – Andrew F., Rye Agency 11/9/2015
Video: Basecamp 3 Overview
Check out the video below to see how Basecamp works in action.
Our Personal Experience with Basecamp
I have personally used Basecamp since 2010. Over the years, I’ve convinced several others to join the bandwagon, including the team here at We Rock Your Web as mentioned above. Although we’ve reviewed and tested several other project management software tools along the way, we’re still loyal to Basecamp over Basecamp competitors. We love that it gets work done without creating more work for ourselves in the process. We’ve tried Basecamp alternatives and found that we didn’t need all the bells and whistles (however we encourage you to read the article, try out alternatives, and decide for yourself!). It’s worth noting that we don’t use the Campfire chat feature (we use Slack instead, one of our Best Online Collaboration Tools) or check-ins (we have weekly Google Hangouts for that). And while we have a growing wish-list of things we wish they’d change or fix, for the most part, we make do because the rest of it is so great.
Is Basecamp Right for Your Business?
When it comes to project management, there is no perfect solution. Every team is unique and everyone has personal ways of doing things. Try it out risk-free for 30 days and play around with a few test projects to see how you like it. And hopefully, your company will start seeing the same productivity gains we did.
How do you currently manage projects and to-dos with your team?