I’ll be honest — I haven’t used Basecamp. I am not a product manager, neither have I been a part of the product team. So, nada on the Basecamp front. Maybe I have had an affair in passing, for a day or two, but have never had the need to use Basecamp.
But I know people who do use it in their daily life, and I have heard nothing but good things about the product. Today — by a random accident, of all things— I landed on the website of Basecamp. I wasn’t expecting this.
I am traveling today, so was off of internet for a couple of hours. Reconnected to the world of living and I had every app on my phone hogging me up for a mere 5 mins of my time.
No! Not now.
I am quite stern when I need to be, so I shooed away all those notifications. I’ll go through everything once I have taken care of the business for the day. I was quite pleased with the way I handled the situation.
IN RETROSPECT, THAT WAS MISTAKE 1.
I had to take care of some work in the morning. It was already delayed by a few hours because of my travel schedule. So I dived right in, as soon as I got some time.
“What about all those notifications? Some of them seemed important.”
“Not now. I will get to it when I can.”
IN RETROSPECT, THAT WAS MISTAKE 2.
Got done with my work.
Now it was time to go through everything. I was already on my mac, so I decided to take care of everything right from the system itself.
THAT’S IT. FUCKING MISTAKE 3.
One tab led to another. One thing led to a few more. And before I knew it, my chrome browser looked like this.
Go figure. Because I sure can’t.
GETTING BACK TO BASECAMP
So, one of these “one thing led to another” brought me to Basecamp. I think it was via some Medium article itself. I can’t say for sure, because — well, I really don’t need to explain; just look up.
I hadn’t given it more than 30 seconds before I started writing this story, but now I am going through the different pages on the website — even the homepage. And I don’t think it is built well. Not enough thought has gone into placement of elements, how things are supposed to fit together, the overall flow of the storyline etc. They need a UX guy, and maybe a good copywriter.
Wait a min! Did I just say I hadn’t given more than 30s to the website before I started writing this story?
Yes. I had made up my mind that a page on their website has got to be the worst designed page I have come across on the internet today. And it didn’t take me more than 30s to come to that conclusion. Well, maybe 35.
I love the strength of their menu. Just look at that.
- “Try it FREE” in a contrasting, prominent color at the far right. Easily distinguishable, easy on the eyes.
- 100,000+ paying customers — This is a nudge in the positive direction. I don’t know who any of these customers are, but if more than 100,000 people trust them and their product, it has got to be good.
So naturally I decided to check 100,000+ paying customers page.
AND THAT IS WHEN IT ALL GETS SHOT TO HELL.
It has got to be:
The worst — period — page — period — on — internet — period — this — year — period.
I don’t know. Will McAvoy did it better in The Newsroom.
Let’s look at the page. Here is the screengrab.
Actually scratch that. I will show you the screengrab later. I don’t want to scare you away. Let me give you the vital tidbits first.
- The screengrab was 10.26 MB in size
- When I tried to print it, the system prompt showed me it was 16 pages. #WTF
It is basically a mashup of all testimonials Basecamp has received over time, and then have them line up one after another like in base camp. Yes. The pun is intended.
Just look at a part of this page below. The whole page is basically such a page repeated 40 times over.
I am not saying the testimonials — which have obviously made this a bulky page — aren’t important. I am saying there are a million better ways of representing this data. And I am not a product guy. So if I am saying that, that got to mean something.
A. Use keywords
Instead of pasting the testimonials verbatim, use keywords to represent the intent behind it. For example “More connected teams — 98%” — i.e. 98% of respondents agree that Basecamp has helped them stay more connected.
B. Use a slider of 10
You really want to show the testimonials verbatim? Sigh! Fine. Do two things. First, use keywords as I mentioned. And second, show a sliding testimonial segment in the next fold. 2 testimonials at a time. 10 testimonials overall. And since you have so many, you can use any ten at random on every page load.
C. Learn how to represent things better
Just go through this story.
How ANYONE can make insanely better slides
My wife was showing me slides from a meeting she recently attended. I’m sure the material was great, but I didn’t read…
There are countless such examples on the internet. Follow the core principles behind them.
NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, LET’S SHOW YOU THE PAGE.
Update: Can’t upload the image. Medium’s image uploader keeps on crashing. Here is a link to the pdf of the screengrab.
And I just realised — that is not the whole page. The screengrab program missed some! Holy shit! Who made this page?