“It’s simple for us and it’s simple for clients” cried Željko Prša, our frontend developer over a year ago in our first Ask a developer episode. Our clients know that we use Basecamp as our collaboration tools because of its simplicity and the fact that clients get familiar with it in a short time. However, we really miss some of the simple features that would improve usability a lot.
- Ability to sort messages by last comment date
When the project is created and there are few introduction message, it all looks fine. However, even on medium sizes ones where there are few people from clients side and few team members on yours, you end up having many open topics quite quickly. You can see the latest activity on your Overview screen, but that one can also get populated in a day or two. Such communication on many different topics makes Basecamp difficult to use as finding a topic where something was discussed can be quite hard. Simple feature to sort the message by latest added comment would be invaluable. It is common feature in every forum and similar app and it would surely be nice to see it here.
- Ability for user to archive topic
Those damn topic topic list can get crowded in no time. Some topics just stand there because client opened it to ask a question. Soon enough you realize that most of them stand in the way of important ones. I would really welcome the possibility to Archive a topic in a similar fashion you can Archive a Google email. You remove it from the main list and you an still access it from some “Archived topics” link later.
- Ability to “Star” a topic
This is a feature I would also steal from Google Mail. All the topics in Basecamp look the same and staring some would make few of choice easily spottable. Each user should be able to star the topics of preference.
Basecamp is a great tool that works like charm on a smaller projects. On a larger ones it requires a lot of discipline both from yours and clients side in order to avoid chaos and mess. With this in mind, project manager should carefully set the milestones, todo lists and todos in order to pull the maximum from Basecamp. All the people involved in communication should spend 2-3 extra seconds to think where some question, query, idea or statement should be written before opening new topic in Messages tab.
What communication tool do you use? If Basecamp, do you have some suggestions for improvements?
I hope the 37signals team will read this and contribute to the discussion.