Basecamp 3 was released today. As a long time user of Basecamp, I’ve been avidly watching all of their communication channels for information on the new version. For months, there have been hints and previews on Twitter, Facebook and via email outlining all of the wonderful new features that come with version 3 and, to be honest, I’ve been quite excited by it all. As I said, I’m a long time user of basecamp, but recently I’ve been checking out the competition on the recommendation of some colleagues. Sometimes when you use a service for a long time you get quite used to “their way of doing things” so looking at the competition has been quite an eye opener.
After evaluating some other packages, I’d pretty much decided that, with all its new features, Basecamp 3 was the way forward. The old version didn’t quite do it all, but the new features they had added really made the decision easy. The pricing model had also changed to one that suited our business better too so everything was looking rosy and all I needed to do was wait until it became available, which happened today.
The folks at Basecamp are a little different to a lot of software companies. “Opinionated” is the term I think. They unashamedly don’t try to make a product that suits everyone. They have a core marketplace and that’s where they stay. They also have a reputation for wonderful communication as evidenced by the job they had done promoting the new Basecamp. Luckily for me the feature set of Basecamp suits our business quite well, or at least it did until today. You see, after going through the process of “upgrading” to the Basecamp 3 with all its wonderful new features, I sadly discovered that there were core features that they had removed making the new version all but useless to me.
When I questioned where the old features had gone they simply replied “No templates in Basecamp 3 just yet; sorry about that!” and “Basecamp 2 might be the best option for your use case until templates are introduced to Basecamp 3”. Awesome!
Now, they are well within their rights to change the spec of any piece of software they make, that isn’t what has upset me. What I’m ticked off about is the complete lack of communication as to the features they have removed. The time to find out your software “doesn’t do that anymore” isn’t right after you’ve signed up for it and given over your credit card details. This is downright poor communication every level. A simple email to their millions of existing users pointing to a page that details the features that had been removed would have done it. I could have checked that page, realised Basecamp 3 wasn’t for me, and moved on to another product weeks ago.
Now I’m in limbo. Do I wait to see if they bring these features back, do I struggle on with the old one or do I pack up my entire tent and move on?
Releasing a new version of anything is a big deal and it is really easy to get caught up in your own hype and the promise of all the new customers that it will bring. Unfortunately, new customers are only part of the story and they should never come before those who have been paying you every month for close to 10 years.
Change is always hard. Good communication and an appreciation for your existing customers would make that change a good deal more pleasant.
It turns out, with a bit more digging, that there IS a page that explains some of the now missing features so on that count I was wrong. The fact that I had to go searching for it still reinforces my gripe about poor communications, but it wasn’t as bad as I first made out. The page that shows the changes is here: basecamp.com/3/transition/should-we-go-bc3
My apologies Basecamp people, your service wasn’t as bad as I’d first thought but please, next time you decide to remove features from your software, have the courtesy of pointing it out properly well in advance of the notice to upgrade. Thanks.