Basecamp Next First Impressions
Well, Basecamp Next is finally here. They announced its arrival just a couple of months ago, and all of sudden it was launched today. I think I’m more surprised than most in learning that Basecamp Next has completely replaced Basecamp Classic.
Now if that sentence throws you off – 37signals assures us that classic will continue to be supported for years to come – which assuages my fears (a bit) however, I thought this would be ANOTHER product – in addition to classic that 37Signals would be offering.
It turns out it is not.
As of today it completely replaces Basecamp Classic – so all new accounts will be using the new interface, features, tool. All updates will be made to “basecamp next” and no new updates will be made to “basecamp classic.”
Basecamp Next First Impressions
Whether it was visiting their site this morning, signing up, adding users, or creating projects, one thing is glaringly clear – everything has been simplified. This tool (and the marketing and it’s use) feel like 50% of Basecamp classic was taken and made as fast and as simple as possible.
I truly feel ANYONE can use basecamp now (we do some quick coaching on Basecamp classic for new clients) – however, out of the box this should require NO training. Basecamp has always been more of a collaboration tool than a project management tool and Basecamp Next underscores this. Although I’m not a huge fan of the new front facing website (personally I feel their other site did a better job of explaining basecamp) I can say that actually signing up, getting started, and creating a project was much simpler than Basecamp Classic.
[This is not a complete review, simply a first impressions session as this is our FIRST day using Basecamp Next.]
Creating projects was simple, and extremely fast. No more adding clients, adding companies, people, etc. Simply create the project title, description, and add the email addresses of those involved. Boom! Done! This alone saves a couple of screens and steps, and leads to simpler user management on projects overall.
The interface here is attractive and easy. Once created your projects show up on the new re-imagined dashboard. Have a look…
Very attractive. You can then click on a project to get to more details. I filled in a sample project quickly…
Again, attractive, simple, and very easy to update, add, etc.
Basecamp First Impressions Pros
Calendar – the calendar is gorgeous and is unified at the company level – allowing you to see what’s going on within EVERY project – or simply creating calendars for misc. stuff. The calendar doesn’t exist within the context of a project (which really does make sense) you can simply add events (which of course show up on the project.
Speed – The new system really is FAST! Everything loaded extremely quick – uploads were fast and overall I feel like I could save time over the previous interface (but there are some caveats I will get to in a minute).
Daily Progress – This kicks ass! Much like the Facebook “timeline” this shows a list of the progress that was made at your company. Scroll down to see more. A fantastic tool for small company owners or project managers. When your clients ask you “what was done today” you can simply click here and find out within 2 seconds.
Basecamp First Impressions Cons
I’m going to preface this by saying that I think 37signals made some grave errors in completely replacing classic with Basecamp Next – in that current customers weren’t consulted (although perhaps usage data was used in determining what changes made the cut). Most our my cons come from tools that were omitted:
Time Tracking – Simple… there is none. I feel like this is the gravest mistake that they could have made. Atilus our parent company has used Basecamp for nearly 6 years, and recommended/signed up nearly 10,000 businesses to Basecamp – but without time tracking we won’t be able to use, or recommend this new version. Jason Fried hinted at removing it – and it’s been removed. Why is time tracking so important? I feel EVERY business that uses a program like Basecamp MUST be tracking time, hell, I even wrote a whole series about it. Web developers (the primary audience of Basecamp) as well as other professionals need to know how many hours are spent on each item/task/todo/project – period – most go out of business because they don’t know how much time (and money) they spend on stuff. Basecamp was our goto tool for this – and classic will continue to be… for now. Not only must you know how much time you’re spending, but simply tracking time is a crucial business tool for those businesses that bill hourly. Classic did a great job of tracking time on todos so that our clients could receive a perfect report each month on what time was spent where. That does not exist with Basecamp Next.
Contact Management – The new contact manager on Basecamp Next is simple – too simple. I found it confusing creating companies, AND, you can no longer associate company information with an actual company (no address, phones, website, etc.).
Messaging Management – Not much has changed here, with the exception of one huge problem – as of right now I don’t see the ability to make messages private/public (so that only your managing company can see or so everyone can see). This is vital for any businesses using Basecamp (or wanting to use basecamp) in client facing situations (which I also previously recommended).
With that said what’s our overall impression of Basecamp Next? Well – I think for a simple project management tool – it’s awesome. However, as a business YOU must track time – and that’s why – on this premise alone I can’t recommend it. Overall, I’m glad they’re going to continue to support Basecamp Classic, but our real issue lies in the new divvying of directions. 37Signals has already concluded that it would not be making any more updates to Classic (only Next) so it completely alienates/inconveniences 100% of their audience. It’s only those users that switch that will continue to receive development attention.
As of now, Basecamp Next feels more like Basecamp… next! (I think that was the corniest thing I ever wrote).
Include the three missing elements above – and I think you have a great update. We’ll see what the future holds for the Basecamp Next vs. Basecamp Classic turn. What do you think? What are your impressions of Basecamp Next?