[Basecamp 3 Redesign] Phase 1: New Nav and a unified Hey! Inbox.
14 December 2017 | 9:37 pm

Over the next few months we’ll be rolling out a visual refresh to make Basecamp 3 even easier to use — and more approachable for new users. Today we launch the first set of updates.

Most products get more complicated as they go. More stuff, more screens, more options, more ways to do things. It’s natural — evolution tends to create more complex creatures over time. Software development is no different.

That’s why it’s on us to push back on complexity and clutter as we go. If we’re smart about it, we can add power and clarity over time, while making everything feel simpler than before. With that in mind, we’re ready to share what we’ve been working on for you.

Phase 1 goes lives today

First things first. This initial refresh is centered around simplifying the global navigation at the top of the screen.

We’re going from this:

(that’s a lot of stuff which can be especially intimidating for new users)

To this:

(simpler and more approachable, ain’t it?)

Simple on the surface, but there are a variety of deep changes behind the scenes. Let’s look at them…

NEW: A single, unified inbox called Hey!

Previously, Basecamp 3 had three separate inboxes: Pings for direct messages, Hey! for posts, comments, to-do assignments, automatic check-ins, @mentions, and Campfires for group chat rooms. It made technical sense as these are all different things that run at different speeds, but we don’t think the mental overhead of three inboxes was worth the trouble. Don’t we have enough inboxes in our lives already?

So we’re switching to a single unified inbox. Everything goes in the Hey! menu. Now if there’s something for you to see, there’s only one place to look. And it’s been totally redesigned.

It’s all right here!

At the top you’ll see a row of faces and a plus button. Want to send someone a private, direct message? Just click their picture, or hit the plus button and type their name if you don’t see them listed. We used to call these Pings, but we’ve renamed them Direct Messages. Same feature, more familiar name.

Below Direct Messages, you’ll see a NEW FOR YOU block. All your notifications flow into here. Direct Messages, new comments, new posts, threads, Campfire chats, @mentions, new to-do assignments, etc. If you need to know about it, it’ll line up right here. Direct Messages now have previews as well, so it’s easier to see what someone wants to tell you without having to click into it. And Campfires now show who posted the last chat.

Last, you’ll see all PREVIOUS NOTIFICATIONS. Once you read something in NEW FOR YOU, it drops down to PREVIOUS NOTIFICATIONS for safe keeping and easy access. Plus there’s a link at the bottom to see all previous notifications — a screen we warmly call the Heystack.

UPDATE 14 December: Based on customer feedback, we’ve changed our mind and brought back the Pings menu. Here’s the story behind that decision.

NEW: Reports roll into Activity

As part of the navigation cleanup, we’ve eliminated the Reports menu and consolidated Reports and Activity into a single screen. Now when you click on Activity, you’ll see this:

Reports that used to be in a separate menu are now front and center at the top of the Activity screen. Just click a button to switch to a different report. For example, here’s what’s on Conor’s plate:

And here are all the to-dos added and completed across our account on Friday December 8th:

Simpler, clearer, and fewer places to go to get at the information you want. We’ve also improved how you select a person for a report. You’ll see that when you select “Someone’s activity” or “Someone’s assignments.”

Revamping the global navigation by consolidating and simplifying means there are fewer places you need to go to stay on top of it all. Concentrating power in a few key places, rather than spreading it out, puts more of what Basecamp can do for you front and center. And it makes it a whole heck of a lot easier for new users to learn. We’re excited for you to get your hands on it.

Preview of Phase 2

With Phase 1 now live, let’s turn our attention to a preview of what’s coming shortly in Phase 2.

Phase 2 is a broad overhaul of key screens, while still keeping things familiar enough so people aren’t disoriented. We know our customers are in the middle of important projects, so change comes carefully.

This phase of the refresh hits things like project home pages, message boards, to-do lists, automatic check-ins, etc. Plus some more tweaks to navigation. All new typography, better use of space, fewer elements on each screen to help you focus on what really matters, consistent placement of key buttons, better proportions, a toned back background, etc. Big stuff that touches nearly every screen.

Keep in mind this is work in progress, and still subject to change, but here are some highlights:

← Message Board BEFORE | Message Board AFTER →
← Message Post BEFORE | Message Post AFTER →
The new design applied to the Automatic Check-Ins index
← Project Home BEFORE | Project Home AFTER →

So there you have it! An all new navigation and Hey! inbox is available today on the web and desktop. And a few weeks from now we’ll push Phase 2 live. We think you’re going to love the overall simplification moving into 2018.

Wishing everyone the best!

And, BTW, if you haven’t tried Basecamp 3 yet, now’s the time. Since switching to Basecamp 3, 89% of customers reported having a better handle on their business, 84% report more self-sufficient teams, and early 60% have fewer weekly meetings! Want to be there too? Sign up to try Basecamp 3 for free, today.


[Basecamp 3 Redesign] Phase 1: New Nav and a unified Hey! Inbox. was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


The Pings menu is back!
14 December 2017 | 8:48 pm

A couple days ago we launched Phase I of a Basecamp 3 refresh/redesign. One of the more significant changes was a redesigned nav bar at the top that consolidated the Pings, Hey, and Campfire menus into a single, unified Hey! inbox menu.

Sometimes when you push for a big change, you overstep. We overstepped, plain and simple. Our customers let us know loud and clear that Pings are a separate category of notification that continues to deserve its own special place in the nav bar. They’re right — when someone’s trying to get ahold of you directly, it’s important to elevate that above notifications that inform a whole group.

We’re sorry we let some of you down.

So today we’re bringing back the Pings menu as its own menu (Campfires are still consolidated into the new Hey menu). Over time we’ll continue to explore ways to improve notifications, but as of now, Pings live alone! We also may revisit Pings vs. Direct/Private Messages language, but that’s for another day. For now, Pings it is!

A nice silver lining is that we were able to improve the new Pings menu to include previews of the last line someone sent you. So hopefully this makes up a little for our snafu 😀.

Here’s a screenshot of the new Pings menu in action:

New unread pings show up at the top, now with previews. Quickly ping someone new by typing their name in the box at the top, or select from someone you’ve recently pinged with at the bottom.

And the new Hey! menu is the same as before, just without Pings:

Removing Pings from the Hey! menu simplified this menu a bit as well. It’s faster, and clearer.

Thanks again to everyone who shared their thoughts, and for being patient and understanding while we re-evaluated our decision. Product development is a constant struggle between too much, just right, and not enough. Sometimes you get end up on the wrong side of right. While we can’t always guarantee everyone will like our decisions — it’s impossible to please millions all the time — we vow to continue to do our best to benefit our customer base as a whole. ❤️


The Pings menu is back! was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


How to make my company big
13 December 2017 | 1:16 pm

How do we get bigger? Get more money? Grow the team? Get bigger office space? More clients?

My three year old daughter has been literally dreaming of going to a magic show. So we went to the first one that crossed our path and seemed relatively kid-appropriate.

I regretted going immediately.

The tickets were general admission. We got there early just to wait in long line. The heat was cranked up. I had to lug around our winter gear while trying to entertain my kid as her boredom progressed.

Sitting in the theater made the regret stronger.

A larger ballroom had some of those temporary moveable walls inside to make smaller rooms. We were in a smaller room.

I’ve been doing and watching magic my whole life. I’ve seen the David Copperfield and Penn & Tellers. This wasn’t any of those.

It felt claustrophobic.

And then there was the stage. There weren’t many rows of people. We were in row 8. But there’s no way we were going to see this magician with the heads in front of me.

A woman in the next row had already pulled out binoculars.

Here’s hoping my three year old would cooperate because getting out of our seats was going to be a very public ordeal.

I had dreams of my first startup getting huge. I had created Inkling with Y Combinator back in 2006 and my vision was that everyone would want to use us to help make decisions.

It didn’t turn out that way.

It turned out that gathering the wisdom of the crowd is most valuable to people who have really big crowds. Banks. Conglomerates. One of our best customers was the US Government.

So we didn’t get the crazy amount of customers I imagined. But I knew our customers extremely well. We’d travel to visit their offices. We’d have a meetup where we’d hang out for a couple days and have intimate meals together. One customer came over to my partner’s house and we brainstormed all day together. And if I remember right, that customer slept on my partner’s couch that night.

We don’t have those same relationships with customers at Highrise. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I try. I converse at length with many customers who email me, or comment about something we’re doing on Twitter or YouTube. I’ve had talks with customers not just about work but about their families and struggles. And I’d like to have a meetup soon.

But because of the scale of people, it’s hard to concentrate the attention like we did at Inkling.

At one point early in the magic show the doors to the room opened up again for some late comers. It distracted everyone. The late comers were stuck standing near the door instead of trying to find seats worried they’d cause even more interruption.

But here’s an example of how different his show was.

The magician, Ivan Amodei, paused and asked his staff to make sure the standing room crowd got seated in empty seats he spotted on the other side of the room.

This isn’t something you’d see most magicians, or any performer really, handle gracefully in larger shows with these types of distractions.

My fear about the magic show was replaced with, “Woah, this guy is doing something different.”

He bounded through the center aisle talking with people. It didn’t matter you couldn’t see the stage great because he was constantly on a chair or in the aisle showing off things. He had all of us standing up as part of various tricks.

Then my worst fear about my daughter started. 3 year olds don’t have the same social graces as we do. She began to squirm and talk about leaving.

But she snapped out of that when Ivan came through the crowd asking everyone for loose change.

When Ivan saw my daughter holding out her fist with coins, he stopped and conversed with her about her age. She was shy and not talking and I thought he’d leave quick.

But he kept at it. Getting her to finally tell him her age. Then he started giving her some of the coins he’d already collected making sure her tiny fists were as full as he could make them.

He then mentioned her multiple times later in the show.

Even the stories behind the magic had a personal touch that included stories of his kids.

It finally dawned on me why the name of his show was “Intimate Illusions”.

Ivan wasn’t in this small room because he was still hoping to be this bigger magician. Ivan was small on purpose.

He used that small room as a tool.

I look at the fun my daughter has at three.

The freedom she has to explore and experience that she won’t have when she’s 30. And I remember the strengths we had with just a handful of customers at Inkling that are much more difficult to recreate at Highrise.

Also note, Ivan isn’t just getting started. He’s been winning awards for his performances in 1995. His current show alone has been going on for over 8 years.

He could easily sell out larger crowds. But he’d lose the feel of this show.

Ivan isn’t small because he can’t be big. He’s small because Ivan uses small and intimate as a strength.

If your business is small or just starting out, don’t let these days of small pass through your hands in your desire to get big. Just remember how much you’ll lose too.

P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: youtube.com/nathankontny where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life. And if you need a zero-learning-curve system to track leads and manage follow-ups, try Highrise.


How to make my company big 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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