I’m working on a new Permissions screen for Basecamp. All the hard stuff is done. The layout, the reorganizing of actions and flows, the templates, and most of the Rails side of things. With 90% of the work done, the last 10% is where I pull out the magnifier and tweezers to finesse the details, check my assumptions, gild the lillies and ready the “DONE” stamp.

You’re definitely in the 10% when you keep flip-flopping designs. I went back and forth on this one three times before moving on:

On this screen, companies appear with people whose access can be toggled (“candidates”) underneath. My first inclination was to cycle the shading on candidate TRs to make it easy to know who’s permissions you are affecting. But two things bothered me about this design.

The first factor is noise. I found a black border was necessary beneath the company headline in order to overpower the candidate rows and group them. The combination of black border and shading all over is just a bit much for me.

The second factor is conceptual. It’s important for people to understand that you add and remove companies from this screen in order to give or modify access for people in those companies. You can’t just add one person without regard for the company they belong in. I won’t get into the legacy and practical reasons behind this, we’ll just accept it as Fact for now. This noisey design doesn’t emphasize the company groups enough, and puts more weight on candidate tables.

Those factors in mind, here’s the subtle redesign:

Now the emphasis is on the companies. The border is removed and the page feels less noisey without the row shading. The redesign feels smarter, cleaner, and more modular. So after three rounds of flipflop, I’ll give it the champion belt.