Wow, what a week. The whole company was in town to launch the all new Basecamp. Launches are a mixture of exhilaration, stress, thrills, anxiety, joy, pride, surprise, and flat-out exhaustion. We’re experiencing all of these emotions, and plenty more.

All things considered, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re humbled by that. That’s not to hide the fact that there were rough spots, some confusion, and some questions. It’s been all hands on deck helping our customers with their questions and concerns while also listening intently and patiently to their praise and criticism. We have a lot more listening to do.

Where’s time tracking?

What was most interesting to us was the reaction around the lack of time tracking in the all new Basecamp. The people who rely on the time tracking feature in Basecamp Classic really rely on it. It’s still there in Classic, of course, but huge numbers of people already want to switch to the new Basecamp. That’s awesome. However, since the new Basecamp doesn’t offer time tracking, they don’t feel like they can make the switch yet.

We had nearly 1000 beta testers using Basecamp over the last few months. We heard about the lack of time tracking, but the lack of time tracking didn’t stand out as unique against the total field of feedback. Further, time tracking was only used by around 14% of paying Basecamp Classic customers in 2011. Based on beta feedback, and usage statistics, we didn’t anticipate such a strong visceral “no time tracking is a deal breaker” reaction. This was definitely a blind spot for us.

Deep understanding comes before designing

Our values have always revolved around designing the best software in the world to solve problems we intimately understand. The new Basecamp is the perfect representation of those values. It’s excellent at what it does. It’s our best work and it’s only going to get better.

However, since we don’t track time at 37signals, we don’t have a deep understanding of the time tracking problem. Plain and simple, this is why time tracking isn’t in the initial release of the all new Basecamp. We simply don’t understand it well enough.

We didn’t want to shoehorn anything into the new Basecamp that we didn’t understand well enough to feel confident in our design. We could have done something that might have simply satisfied people who were used to time tracking in Classic, but we’re not here to just do the bare minimum. We’re not here to simply satisfy. We’re here to make the best products in the world for our customers. We’re here to delight beyond expectations. We’re here to give people a combination of things they can’t get anywhere else.

Help us understand how and why you track time

Before we can commit to saying yes or no to adding time tracking in a future version of the all new Basecamp, we need to understand the problem better. It’s time to observe, study, learn, and understand how and why our customers track time.

If you’d like to help, we’d love to hear from you. Over the next few months we’ll be talking to customers 1-on-1 (via Skype video chat) for a more in-depth understanding of how people use time tracking.

We’d like to talk to you 1-on-1

If you’re interested in helping us understand how you track time, please fill out this survey. We’ll be contacting a select group of customers for the 1-on-1 interviews. We’re anticipating a lot of responses, so we won’t be able to talk directly with everyone, but we’ll do our best to come away from this experience with a deep understanding of what people need, expect, want, and dream about time tracking.

Thanks for reading, understanding, and helping us know your world a little better.