Basecamp 3: “Adoptional”

A couple of weeks ago I shared how Basecamp believes that Work Can Wait. That idea really resonated — we couldn’t be more pleased with the response! Thanks for all the reads, tweets, and recommendations — we really appreciate everyone’s support.


Next I want to share another core tenet of Basecamp 3. There’s always been an assumption that team/group software requires buy-in from the whole team/group in order to be useful. We want to challenge that assumption. Internally we’re calling this idea “adoptional”. We’ve made Basecamp 3 adoptional.

The idea is that even if a project team is 6 or 7 people, Basecamp can work for all 6 or 7 even if only 1 or 2 or 3 people are actively using it. The rest can participate, when necessary, without ever having to learn a new system, install any software, set up any new accounts, or otherwise change the way they work. This is a big deal and we’re particularly excited to see how it plays out.

Here are a few of the ways in which Basecamp is “adoptional”

1. No one has to create an account, pick a username, or setup a password. Gone is the toughest hurdle of them all — convincing other people you’re working with to set up an account on a new system they didn’t ask for, don’t want, or aren’t particularly motivated to get involved with. The default authentication model is simply your email address. Basecamp sends you a link, you click it, you’re in, and you’re only out again if you expressly log out. If you do, to get in again you enter your email address to get a new link and then you’re in again, again. And it’s perfectly secure.

2. Anything can be shared directly with anyone else, no matter if they are on a project or not. By default everything is locked down — only people with access to a project can see anything in a project. But occasionally you need to send something to someone who’s not part of a project, or show someone something specific but you don’t want them to see the rest of the project. Dead simple in Basecamp 3. Just go to the thing, click the Share button, turn on public link sharing (if it’s not already on for that item), grab the link, and text/email/whatever it to them. They can see it straight away, no special requirements. When you’re done, or if you want to revoke the link for any reason, just click the “Turn off…” link and the URL no longer works.

3. Basecamp can automatically ask people questions on a recurring basis and gather information for you. Basecamp will do the work for you. And again — they can get the questions purely via email so they don’t ever have to commit to signing into Basecamp, going into an app, or doing any work other than clicking a button and typing into a field. You can ask whatever questions you’d like. For example, in one of our projects we automatically ask everyone 1. what they worked on at the end of the day and 2. how they think the project is going every couple weeks. In another project, we ask three recurring questions, once a week: 1. Can you describe a difficult case you had this week? 2. Can you describe a great case you had this week? 3. Do you have any suggestion for how we can improve support? Our design team set up a weekly “What’s inspired you this week?” question. It’s such a great way to automatically surface information — all without forcing anyone to create an account or sign into a system to answer.

4. Not sure if we’ll get this in by launch or not, but another thing we’re building is automating report delivery. Basecamp 3 has a variety of reports (what’s late, what’s coming up, who’s working on what, what work has been added vs. completed, etc) that you can subscribe to yourself or subscribe someone else. For example, your boss may not be interested in signing into Basecamp to check out what the team is working on, but they may be very interested in that specific information. So you can subscribe your boss to receive a specific report in their email inbox once a week (or every day, whichever is preferred). It’s automatically delivered, no “buy-in” required from the person you’re setting it up for.


Over time we’ll be adding more “Adoptional” power to Basecamp 3. People work in different ways, people have different demands on their time, people have different schedules and priorities — trying to get everyone to funnel everything they do through a specific process that one person decided to set up is often a recipe for tool disfunction. We want Basecamp 3 to work with people, not against people, and we think making adoption optional is the right path forward.