Since its launch, the all new Basecamp hadn’t had a dedicated Help site that was actually, well… helpful. Last month, the Support team and I changed all of that.

The previous, crusty excuse of a Help page we had for Basecamp was:

  • A list of answers to questions no one was asking
  • A dead end that didn’t encourage discovery
  • A mystery to our Support team because they couldn’t update it
Previous version that didn’t answer real questions

It needed an upgrade. It needed a rewrite and redesign. It needed to put power back in the Support team’s hands.

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We’ve been pruning our apps all year. Having less to maintain means more time making our current apps better. To keep things light around here, I built the new Help site from the ground up using Jekyll. It’s lean, offers everything we need to manage content, and nothing we don’t. Throw in a couple of rake commands, and I’m compiling styles with Sass to boot.

Empowering the Support team

The old Help site was a static HTML page buried deep within the Basecamp marketing site. Our Support team couldn’t update it. I found it backwards that people who help our customers felt helpless themselves. The Help site redesign became an incredible teaching opportunity. After doing the legwork in designing and building the core of the Help site in Jekyll, I worked closely with Ann and a handful of the Support team to remove their git training wheels and give them a primer on Markdown. No HTML and CSS to learn. Simply update a text file, git push it to our Help site repo, and we’re off. The Support team has been writing fully-packed guides and pushing their own commits since. Fun fact: teaching them some of the tools of our company has inspired them to keep their personal learning going. Chase is learning CSS and adding search functionality to the Help site as we speak.

Encouraging our customers to explore

Remember that one time we hired a video producer? He’s been making short, fun, and incredibly informative video tips for Basecamp all year long. You didn’t know about it, because they didn’t exist anywhere. They’ve long needed a home. The Help site has been a great place for us to not only showcase Shaun’s videos, but house information about real live example projects, Basecamp classes, and 3rd-party integrations as well.
Our support team has been doing a great job for years. We’re proud to have some of the fastest response times in the business. And now, we’re proud of the extra-helpful all new Basecamp Help site. Dig around, we bet you’ll learn something new.
Like they say, give the Support team a static FAQ page and they’ll support your customers for a day. Teach ’em how to pull / commit / push, and they’ll support your customers for a lifetime.