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Another Chapter

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So, a few years ago Dana Brunetti at Trigger Street Productions (Social Network and Captain Philips) got in touch with us after reading our book, REWORK. He loved the themes and the overall story of how our company came to be.
Some time passed and we hadn’t heard anything… Until a week ago. We’re super-excited to let you know that Netflix Originals has decided to take on the project and turn our little book into a feature film!
Martyn Burke was brought on to write the screenplay and Gwyneth Horder-Payton will direct. Filming is supposed to start sometime this spring and we just got these beautiful promo posters in the mail.

It’s rare that companies exercise options like the one they had on this book and we really can’t say how unbelievably excited and flattered we are to have our story told in a whole new way.

Incoming Transmission: A monthly newsletter from 37signals

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We’re starting a short list of good reads. We want to share with you the best of the web, right in your inbox.

Starting tomorrow, we’re sending out “Incoming Transmission” a once-a-month newsletter that compiles the latest can’t-miss posts from SvN, along with great finds across the web from the staff at 37signals. It’s a simple, perfect-for-your-phone list of must-reads and “made us look.”
If you downloaded your free copy of Getting Real, you’re already on the list. You can opt out quick and easy if you decide you don’t like it.
Sign up for Incoming Transmission here.

New in Highrise: LinkedIn profiles

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Today we’re introducing LinkedIn profiles in Highrise. You can now add LinkedIn URLs to your contacts to see their profiles in Highrise instantly. You’ll have easy access to all the specialties and qualifications listed in their LinkedIn profiles.

How to set it up

It’s simple: Just go to a contact, click the “Edit” link in the top right corner, then scroll down to the “Social media” section on the edit screen. Enter the person’s public LinkedIn profile URL and click save. Then you’ll see a “LinkedIn” tab at the top of their contact page. Click that link and you’ll have access to their LinkedIn profile.

To make the most of this feature you’ll need to have an account on LinkedIn. Highrise uses your LinkedIn account to grab the latest profile each time you view one of your contacts. This ensures the profile information you see is always up to date.

Integration with LinkedIn has been a popular customer request since we launched Highrise. We’re pleased to make it a reality today and we hope it makes Highrise more useful to you everyday.

Fast and great support from the 37signals team

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Our support team works hard every day to make our customers happy, and we’re always proud to show how great a job they do.

In addition to making customers happy, our fantastic team also answers questions fast. Across the last 500 new cases we’ve received during our normal hours, we’ve responded to 97% in less than hour, with the average case answered in 14 minutes and solved in 25 minutes.

Our team has been steadily improving at this too. Over the last few months, we’ve steadily cut down response times, all while maintaining or improving customer happiness.

Congratulations to Michael, Ann, Kristin, Merissa, Joan, and Chase!

The Slicehost Story

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Slicehost—a scrappy web company bootstrapped with $20,000—cashed out for big bucks in 2008. How did they do it? More importantly, was it worth it?

We had a growing wait-list of people that wanted to give us money but couldn’t.

David Heinemeier Hansson chats with the founders of Slicehost, Jason Seats and Matt Tanase, to find out.

Found Stories

In a big company you have to construct artificial ways to get information.

Watch the complete interview at

New page layout for Highrise contacts

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This week we updated Highrise with a revised layout for the people and company pages.

We decided to change these pages because we thought the existing sidebar had become too cluttered. The old sidebar contained tasks, contact info, custom fields, dates, deals, background info, a list of people on company pages, a twitter stream, an email notification toggle and an RSS link. It was a bit of junk drawer. Many items were constrained by the small space afforded by the narrow sidebar and it was difficult to see where one section ended and another one started.

To help reduce the clutter we introduced tabbed sections for deals, the list of people in each company and the optional twitter stream. In the old sidebar the list of deals and people was often cramped and the twitter stream was limited to three entries. We wanted to give these sections dedicated spaces outside of the sidebar so that there was enough room to show more data like a person’s email address or details about each deal. We also wanted to make the appearance of deals and people consistent with other pages in Highrise.

The old sidebar had a seperate section for dates. We decided to merge these into the new Personal Info section because their presentation makes it obvious that they are dates. We also introduced a line of text that indicates which dates are configured with reminders. Previously you had to visit into the date editing pages to find out which dates had were setup with a reminder which was a bit of a hassle.

At the bottom of the old sidebar we had links to toggle daily digest emails and a link to the RSS feed. Both of these items provide a way to stay up to the date with the notes and emails that are added to a contact but their position at the bottom of the sidebar didn’t communicate that relationship very well. We moved them to the top of the stream of notes and emails to make it more obvious that these features were related.

The contact pages in Highrise have always been a challenge for us. They can contain many different combinations of data and everyone uses them in their own unique ways. We hope this round of changes makes these pages more useful and a little easier on the eyes for everyone who uses Highrise. As always, we’ll continue to review and revise as time goes on.

Lessons learned from implementing Highrise's custom fields feature

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We recently added custom fields to Highrise (below) which allow you to keep track of extra details beyond standard contact information like phone, email, address, etc.

After the launch, we had a “looking back” conversation to see what lessons could be learned from the process. Three of our findings:

1. Add to an existing design before trying a new one.

When you begin work on a new feature, try to add it within the context of the existing design, evaluate it, and then make a decision about how to proceed based on that experience. That way, you quickly get a good sense of what works in the existing design and what doesn’t. You might even discover that the new feature fits into the existing design without any further work required. (Huzzah!)

We started with a different approach when we tackled the custom fields project. We began with a completely new design for the contact edit page and pursued that design (below) for most of the project.

In the end, we decided to discard this design because it wasn’t the right solution and it introduced a bunch of new problems. It took us a long time to make that decision because there was a lot of work involved in developing the new design. And most of that work was not giving us good feedback about the nature of the problem we were trying to solve.

When we reset, we discovered that some of our assumptions about custom fields were wrong. For example we assumed that shoehorning custom data into the contact page sidebar (right) would make the page too cluttered and inconvenient for people. But we failed to actually try it out to confirm this assumption. When we finally did try it, we discovered it wasn’t bad at all.

2. Resist the urge to make something special out of something boring.

Custom fields aren’t the sexiest feature we could have worked on. Plus, we were building them based on customer requests instead of our own internal needs. Because of that, we mistakingly tried to make the project more interesting with indirectly-related work, like a redesign of the contact pages, streamlined contact dates, bigger avatars, and fancier ways to save data. None of these things were required for us to launch custom fields, but we were tempted to tackle them because they were more fun.

Adopting all those extra concerns obscured the reality that custom fields could actually be a very tiny project. When we finally threw out all the extras, the feature seemed embarrassingly simple. Nonetheless, our customers love it. The lesson here is the tiniest version can be good enough.

3. Storyboard complex interactions instead of building them immediately.

We tried to build out the redesigned edit page so that every interaction could be demonstrated for real and then evaluated. Since there was a lot of complex interaction on the page, most of the work involved in this process was Javascript programming which took a long time to complete. And programming the interface early made it difficult to change the design as we learned more about the problem.

Creating a storyboard of all the states is a more efficient approach for developing pages with complex interactions. It takes much less time to generate storyboards and they are easy to share and discuss with everyone. We used this approach when we worked on bulk operations and it worked well. Everyone was able to see the design early and understand how it should work. From there it was much simpler to divide up the work and build the feature quickly.

Our storyboard for all the screens for the Highrise Bulk Operations project. Storyboards like this illustrate the complete flow so everyone’s on the same page.