Category Archive for: Basecamp

rfp-robotRFP ROBOT: Website Request for Proposal Generator

The time has come for a new website (or website redesign), which means you need to write a website request for proposal or web RFP. A Google search produces a few examples, but they vary wildly and don’t seem to speak really to your goals for developing or redesigning a new website. You need to write a website RFP that will clearly articulate your needs and generate responses from the best website designers and developers out there. But how?

Have no fear, RFP Robot is here. He will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you work through the details of your project and create a PDF formatted website design RFP that will provide the information vendors need to write an accurate bid. RFP Robot will tell you what info you should include, point out pitfalls, and give examples.


The world needs more modest, linear growth companies. Please make some.

14 years of linear growth at Basecamp.Exponential growth gets all the glory. Every startup story that lands on the cover of a magazine has a hockey-stick chart to flaunt. Yes, disruption is driven by such violent expansion, and the world needs some disruption some of the time. But for the other 360 days out of the year, what it also needs is some modest, linear growth.Linear growth is what happens in domains that aren’t animated by network effects (and when no artificial growth hormones are injected!). It’s the simplicity of good products sold at reasonable prices that find happy customers. These customers talk to friends and colleagues in other businesses, and over time that word of mouth spreads the good vibes, which turns the business up.But the limelight has no patience with such simple, slow methods as word of mouth. It’s not infectious enough. Not exponential enough. That’s a shame.Because the world is…

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Outlasting

You in business? What are you doing to last? Not to grow. Not to gain. Not to take. Not to win. But to last?I wouldn’t advocate spending much time worrying about the competition — you really shouldn’t waste attention worrying about things you can’t control — but if it helps make the point relatable, the best way to beat the competition is to last longer than they do.Duh? Yes, duh. Exactly. Business is duh simple as long as you don’t make it duhking complicated.So how do you last?Obviously you need to take in enough revenue to pay your bills. But we’ve always tried to reverse that statement: How many bills do you need to pay to limit your revenue requirements?Rather than thinking about how much you need to make to cover your costs, think about how little you need to help you survive as long as you want.Yes, we’re talking about costs. The rarely talked about side of…

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Things are going so well we’re doing a hiring freeze

Business has never been better at Basecamp. Despite all the competition, all the noise, and all the changes since we launched 14 years ago, 2017 was the year we earned the most revenue ever.While that alone is cause for some celebration, it’s hardly the most important thing for Jason and I, as the business owners. Sure, it’s nice to see numbers tick ever higher, but we passed enough many years ago. What matters far more than big numbers for us today is how the business feels.And it’s really never felt better, in almost all the ways. Basecamp the product is the best its ever been. Tens of thousands of new businesses and teams continue to sign up every month. We keep hearing from customers about the profound changes to their organization, productivity, communication, and even sanity that Basecamp helps them realize. It’s deeply rewarding.We’ve also kept up with our founding mission to…

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Stimulus 1.0: A modest JavaScript framework for the HTML you already have

Modern JavaScript doesn’t have to mean single-page, client-side MVC apps.We write a lot of JavaScript at Basecamp, but we don’t use it to create “JavaScript applications” in the contemporary sense. All our applications have server-side rendered HTML at their core, then add sprinkles of JavaScript to make them sparkle.This is the way of the majestic monolith. Basecamp runs across half a dozen platforms, including native mobile apps, with a single set of controllers, views, and models created using Ruby on Rails. Having a single, shared interface that can be updated in a single place is key to being able to perform with a small team, despite the many platforms.It allows us to party with productivity like days of yore. A throwback to when a single programmer could make rapacious progress without getting stuck in layers of indirection or distributed systems. A time before everyone thought the holy grail was to confine their…

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We decided to kill a feature to figure out how to make it better

Likes and hearts are all over collaboration and communication software today. Even Basecamp 3 has claps now. On the surface, that seems like a natural step forward: Make it easier to participate, provide encouragement, and create a sense of connection. But scratch that surface and there’s plenty of ambivalence below.I first really noticed my ambivalence in our own product when reading through the daily updates of what people at Basecamp had been working on. We gather all those in a What did you work on today? automated check-in. (It’s one of my favorite features of Basecamp, and it makes it so much easier to keep up with what everyone is cooking without the constant nagging of a manager checking in.)But as I read through the replies from the few dozen people who answered the question on any given day, I was faced with the dilemma of the clap. If I applauded…

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New in Basecamp 3: Decide who gets notified when completing a to-do

Elevating an invisible featureTo-dos in Basecamp are pretty straightforward. At a glance, you can see who’s responsible, when it’s due, and important details you might need to know:Unfortunately, it’s never been clear who will get notified when you complete a to-do. That made it hard to pass the baton to a coworker or tap your manager on the shoulder when you’ve wrapped things up.Sure, you could hack things together by @mentioning someone in the Notes field or by subscribing them to comments. But if you just want to be sure someone knows when you’re done, you shouldn’t have to jump through hacky hoops to do it.Say goodbye to hacksNow, when you make a to-do in Basecamp, you’ll see a new field labeled When done, notify. Add people you want to notify when the to-do is completed and Basecamp will be sure to tell them about it:Wondering who will get notified about a task you didn’t…

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Hard first or easy first?

Accountants have FIFO (first in first out) and LIFO (last in first out). Product designers have HFEL (hard first easy later) or EFHL (easy first hard later).No matter the project, there are things you’re more confident about and things you’re less confident about. No brainers, maybe brainers, yes brainers. Assuming you have limited time to complete a project (we spend a maximum of 6 weeks on most projects), you have to decide how to sequence the work. Do you pick off the hard stuff first? Easy stuff first? What to do?It depends, of course. I don’t have any answers for you, but I can share some of the things we think about when deciding what to do when.First we get our bearings.Does this feel like a full project? Is it probably going to take all the time we have? Lots of moving parts? Does this work touch a lot of other things, or…

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Don’t Be Fake

Hey, are you crushing it? It seems like everyone is constantly crushing it in the business world. But maybe it would be better if we were honest about our flaws, talked like ourselves, and aimed to be genuine instead of super polished. In this episode of the Rework podcast: A Basecamp customer support representative shares tips on writing emails like a real human being; an inherently artificial industry gets a dose of reality; and two startup founders try an experiment in radical transparency to save their business. Stick around until the end for some poetry. Yes, poetry!https://medium.com/media/d59750ee76fc72aca7f34aa247d0bd8d/hrefDon’t Be Fake was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. Source: 37signals

The 25 most popular icebreaker questions based on four years of data

If you need a get-to-know-you question for team-building at work that isn’t trite and terrible, here are 25 to try out…If you winced at the word, “icebreaker,” I don’t blame you. Get-to-know-you questions and games tend to feel cheesy. We’ve all been victim to a terribly trite icebreaker with coworkers that made us roll our eyes. I know I have.However reluctantly, you may have realized that you need to break the ice at work. A new employee just joined your team, and you want to make sure they feel welcome. Or, you need to find a way to warm up a conference call between remote team members, and ask some get-to-know you questions for team-building.After all, it’s always hard to work well with folks you don’t have a rapport with (not to mention, it’s less fun). Trust is the oil of the machine in the team. The more you have of it,…

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New Year, New Updates for Basecamp 3 on Android

We’ve updated the Basecamp 3 Android app to coincide with the launch of the Basecamp 3 refresh. What’s new?💨 Navigation takes you to Projects and Teams faster🗺 Sticky titles and breadcrumbs keep you from getting lost🎨 Themes and overall styling updated to match the refresh💨 Navigation takes you to Projects and Teams fasterWhether you have one Project or one hundred, we know you’re using the Android app to check on Basecamp quickly, on-the-go.📌 Pinned Projects and Teams are more prominent on the Home Screen. Quickly scan for the Projects that matter to you. These pinned Projects and Teams stand out when you’re sharing a video from YouTube or uploading a photo or PDF.Pinned Projects and Teams are more prominent.🔍 Quick Jump to a Project or Team by typing a few letters in Search. Just start typing in the Search field. Since Search is accessible on nearly every screen, you can quickly switch back and forth between…

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You don’t have to take every handout or jump through every loophole

You don’t have to agree with Uncle Sam on how he conducts all of his affairs to accept that “starving the beast” isn’t a path that leads anywhere good long term.Basecamp used to take two common business deductions called the domestic manufacturing credit (§199) and the Research & Development credit. Both of these tax credits were substantial, both were recommended by esteemed accounting firms with entire departments dedicated to their exploitation, and both were total fucking bullshit.So we stopped taking them. (You should have seen the faces of our new accountants as we told them this 😂).Supposedly these credits are there to encourage American companies to spend on R&D and to keep manufacturing jobs in the country, but give me a break. I’d wager that the vast majority of companies that accept these tax handouts do not base their decisions about how much to spend on R&D or whether to hire domestically…

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The Basecamp 3 refresh is here!

Last month, we shared a sneak peek at some major design improvements we’ve been cooking up for Basecamp 3. Today’s the day — you’ll see those changes in your Basecamp account right now!There are countless little tweaks and improvements throughout the entire app, but here’s quick recap of the most important new stuff.High-level ChangesThe examples we showed in the preview still stand: improved navigation, colors, and typography, better use of space on desktop screens, and more consistent placement for buttons, headers, and menus. These changes apply everywhere.A few examples: Message Board, To-dos, and Docs & FilesNew Comments DesignComments got a big upgrade. We wanted to give comments their own identity and charm, while reducing the metadata noise that had built up around the actual writing. They’re friendly and easier to read, too.Comments get a big bold header, simple shapes, and an all-around cleanup.New Options MenusThere’s a slick new design for the ••• options menus that appear on every…

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Hate your job? Happier times are within your grasp

As is common this time of year, I took some time to reflect on life and work. And a few different things reminded me of how incredibly fortunate and happy I am to be working at Basecamp.But I bet you can guess the punchline — yeah, it wasn’t always like this. The year before I landed at Basecamp, things were pretty rough and I was miserable at work.I know this feeling isn’t unique. In fact you might be feeling today how I did years ago — coming home from work tired, uninspired, unhappy, and even angry. It’s not a good look.But change is within your grasp. It won’t be easy, but you can be damn sure it’ll be worth it. I speak from personal experience.When I eventually reached my job-hate breaking point, the first order of business was to quit said job. I have to admit it was kind of exciting and liberating. But it was…

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A New Approach to Feature Requests

A few months ago, I got this email from a customer:It would be wonderful if there was a way to tag/assign forwarded emails to specific task lists within client projects. The “email forwards” section is really cumbersome on large scope client projects where we have lots of balls in the air at once.It’s pretty straightforward. Our app doesn’t have this feature and they would like it to be added. It’s a feature request. Our support team sees a dozen or so feature requests every day.Deciding how to handle feature requests like this one is tough. Do you track every single one? Are you only focused on some subset?And most importantly — how do you turn a customer email into something usable for your product teams? That’s the end goal — something usable by others in the company.Early in our days at Basecamp, we would literally “read them, throw them away, and forget them”.“It sounds blasphemous but the ones that…

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Opening the Rework Mailbag, Part 2

https://medium.com/media/0acabe8f4234499d0913b19c48149c74/hrefOpening the Rework Mailbag, Part 2In the second part of our Mailbag episode (check out the first part here), Jason Fried and DHH answer your questions about how non-managers can get support for Rework ideas within their companies; how Basecamp thinks about its employees’ mental health; what job-seeking developers should really be looking for when evaluating potential employers (hint: look beyond the ping pong tables and catered lunches); and why you should maybe just ignore most business advice. Hey, did we mention we have a business advice show? You should listen to it:https://medium.com/media/b600eedee5b7800cccda8605f839932d/hrefP.S. We’re collecting your stories about your funniest or definitely-not-funny-at-all meetings that you’ve had at work. Got a tale to tell? Leave us a voicemail at 708–628–7850 or email us at [email protected] the Rework Mailbag, Part 2 was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. …

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Basecamp doesn’t employ anyone in San Francisco, but now we pay everyone as though all did

If you want to be amongst the best paid people in software, you have to move to San Francisco. Or do you?The roots of Basecamp are in Chicago. It’s where the business started, it’s where our only office is located, it’s where we do all our meet-ups. But more than just a geographical connection, there’s a spiritual one too: Chicago is the city that works.So it made sense when we decided to get serious about setting pay in a fair, transparent, and systematic way to use the Chicago rates as a base. They were already higher than just about any other location we employed people from. And as a remote company, we employ people from all over the place.Yet when we were doing our pay studies this year, we started to question that decision. If we’re already paying people from Tampa or Chattanooga the much higher Chicago rates, why is the rate based…

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The books I read in 2017

Last year about this time I extracted all my answers to our monthly Basecamp check-in question of What are you reading? So I thought I’d do the same again. These are the books I read in 2017, as I presented them to the rest of the company:February 14With Russia fever at Defcon 2, I’ve made it about half-ways through the biography The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin. It’s a great refresher on post-WWII history, the cold war, KGB, but above all, on the forces present in Russia.There are many lines to draw between Russia’s struggles after the fall of Communism with the fundamental political theories of Fukuyama (Origins of Political Order / Political Order And Political Decay). When taken together, they lend an all the more human and sympathetic story to why things played out the way they did. While still appreciating just how immense the level of…

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Previewing the Basecamp 3 refresh

We’re close to finishing up a refresh of the Basecamp 3 interface on web and desktop. We’re planning on launching it in the next few weeks, so we wanted to give you a thorough preview before it shows up in a browser near you.First, why?A combination of reasons, really. One, we have some new ideas that we didn’t have when we launched Basecamp 3 a few years ago. Now feels like a good time to modernize. Two, we have some cleaning up to do. We’ve updated the product hundreds of times over the last few years, and we’ve introduced some inconsistencies and rough edges. Time to pause, clean it up, and set the stage for the next few years. And three, we think this new design makes Basecamp more enjoyable to use, and far more approachable for new customers. It was a heck of a lot of fun to do, too!Further, we’ve…

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The presence prison

Are you chained to the green dot? Turn it off and break free.As a general rule, nobody at Basecamp really knows where anyone else is at any given moment. Are they working? Dunno. Are they taking a break? Dunno. Are they at lunch? Dunno. Are they picking up their kid from school? Dunno. Don’t care.The vast majority of the time, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is letting people design their own schedule around when they can do their best work.This is not nearly as hard as it sounds. But it does require a shift in mindset. Away from “I have to call Jeff into a meeting now to get his take on this new feature idea” to “I’ll write up my feature idea for Jeff to check-out whenever he has some free time, and then, maybe, we can have a chat about it live later, if needed”.If you’re constantly pulling people into things,…

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