Basecamp’s minimalist approach to project management strips away the unnecessary complexities and redundancies that often plague other software. But don’t think that means that it skimps on the details! In addition to covering the basics of project management — to-do lists, scheduling, document and file management — it also encourages collaboration among team members.
Chatting and communication, in particular, are greatly improved with the addition of Campfire to version 3, which can effectively replace third-party applications like email or Slack.
And they’ve added a new tab called Hey!, which filters your team’s updates to those that matter to you the most — your own.
There’s one additional aspect of Basecamp’s user experience that stands out — it understands that you shouldn’t be working all of the time. You’re able to work better when you can stay focused and free from distractions, so Basecamp includes a snooze option on its notifications that lets you defer them for three hours. You can also define your working hours through its Work Can Wait feature, which turns off notifications outside of your working hours to respect your off time.
We found that Basecamp offered a more comprehensive and feature-rich solution than other leading project management apps and that it was better at consolidating and centralizing communications and each user’s updates and tasks. And while Trello is an attractive solution for smaller teams who need a simple task management solution, Basecamp dives much deeper into the full lifecycle of project management and offers much that Trello can’t.
The downside to being such a comprehensive and feature-rich project management solution is that your projects will take a little more time and effort to set up — but the tradeoff is how powerful Basecamp is once you have. Basecamp’s intuitive design is another one of its strengths, which neatly organizes detailed information to give you a high-level overview at-a-glance and it centralizes those updates that matter to you the most in its “Hey!” tab.
Rather than discuss all of Basecamp’s other features in detail, we’re going to focus on the three that will help you manage your projects the most — and that Basecamp does better than its competitors.
- Discussion threads. Front and center on your project page is the ability to create or view a discussion thread. They ensure transparency on the project and help to consolidate conversation in one place. Think of how many times you’ve sent a group email to your team, received multiple replies back with the rest of the team copied, as well as more that were just sent to you and how much this fragmented the conversation. This is how details get overlooked or lost altogether.
With Basecamp, that email thread is replaced with a simple chronological page of messages, each clearly identified by its sender, and the entire team has access to it at all times. You can create individual discussion threads for each aspect of the project — for example, one for the creative brief, one for the design mocks, one for copy feedback, etc. — and the team can post their progress or ask any questions. You can also help to guide the flow of information so that it follows your company’s processes and organize it so that it’s easy to communicate the status of individual deliverables to your team.
2. To-dos. Speaking of your team’s deliverables, Basecamp allows you to create, assign, and track to-dos for everything. To everyone. Breaking a project down to its component tasks is project management 101, and Basecamp makes the process easy for you. Each task is created as a to-do and assigned to the team member who is responsible for it. You can include start and end dates, the amount of time you estimate or allocate to complete it and attach any required documents or files. You can then document and track the accountability for each to-do.
Another benefit of to-dos is that it allows each team member to see all of their assigned tasks across all of their projects. Basecamp will even send a reminder before the task is due so everyone can manage their time.
3. Profile pages. Every user has their own personalized profile page, which shows them everything they’re working on — projects, to-dos, and due dates. This makes planning your day easier and puts accountability for your deliverables front and center. And the Hey! menu is a single inbox for nearly every kind of Basecamp notification — @mentions, new messages, to-dos, and completions are listed and threaded in the Hey! menu.
Finally, Basecamp’s straight-forward pricing model makes it easy for smaller teams to budget for, both for their current needs and as they grow. For a flat fee of $99/month, every account receives:
- Unlimited users
- Unlimited projects
- Unlimited clients
- 500GB of cloud storage space
- Access to every feature — there are no pricing tiers
One significant drawback of Basecamp 3 to be aware of is that it’s not possible to migrate your existing project history from previous versions. While this will only affect users who are upgrading and require access to their historical data — which is to say, a small percentage — it should still be mentioned. That said, it’s not enough of an issue for us not to recommend the app.