Effective Website Collaboration Tool - Basecamp

When it comes to website development, Communication is King.  If a Client doesn’t have a way to reach out to the development team at all hours, and accurately communicate their needs, everything falls apart.  Phone calls can be great, but invariably things are missed, or misunderstood, or forgotten.  With written communication, both the Client and Developers can be precise, and if the language is unclear, questions can be asked, rather than assumptions made.

To that end, Spark Logix Studios has used Basecamp for several years now as their core communications tool.  Why do we love Basecamp so much?  A couple of reasons.  First, messages are in a centralized location, and organized neatly.  Unlike e-mail, where you may have to search through several e-mail chains to find where a specific comment or question was asked, in Basecamp you can easily return to your discussions and quickly find what you need.

Adding Discussions to Basecamp

Adding a new discussion in Basecamp is a snap.  Think of discussions like e-mail chains, each will have it’s own subject or topic, and people can read your message and reply right within the system.  Once you’ve logged in to your basecamp account, you’ll see the link at the top to add a new discussion.

Basecamp Home

Click Discussions

Simply click the “discussion” link at the top to add a new question or comment.

Edit Your Message

This will bring you to the “Add a New Discussion” page.  Here, you can write a subject line, which will help keep your thoughts and questions organized.  Then you can write your message.  You can even attach files.  Often it is helpful to provide screenshots, especially if you are seeing errors on the development site.  With basecamp, you can upload the screenshot directly, no need to embed them in a Word Document or PDF.

Once your message has been composed, you can choose who should receive an e-mail notification.  The default selection is that anyone who has access to the basecamp project will receive a notification, but there are two other options.

The second option is to simply select which team members you would like to receive the message.  So if you have a question for the Designer, or the Project Manager, you can select only them, to avoid spamming other people with unnecessary e-mails.

Replies

Replying to a message in Basecamp is a breeze.  You can either simply respond via e-mail to the basecamp notification message.  Your response will automatically post to basecamp, even from a mobile device.

The other option is to log back into basecamp.  Here on the homepage, you’ll notice that the discussions are all nicely organized.  Simply click the title of the discussion you want to reply to:

Continue to Update

Once in the discussion, you can review all of the replies, and add your own message, including uploading files if necessary.  And once again, everyone involved in that discussion will receive an e-mail notification with the new message.  It’s just that simple.

Add More

And of course, if you want to add a new discussion, it’s a simple as clicking the “Post a New Discussion” button.

Feedback and To-Do Lists

Once we’ve completed a particular phase of work (Mockup, Full Site Development, etc.), the next big step is for our Clients to review what we’ve done, and provide feedback.  Before Basecamp, this process was arduous and difficult, filled with lengthy e-mails with bulleted lists of items that needed to be tweaked (changing font sizes, updating text, swapping out images, etc.).

But thanks to Basecamp’s handy To-Do Lists, that is no longer the case.  When you need to provide feedback or changes, you can simply add each individual item as a task, and assign it to your project manager.

If there aren’t any To-Do Lists created, you can simply click the link at the top of the page.

Title Your List

Add a title to the To-Do List that will help you keep your feedback organized in a logical manner.  The easiest is to simply title each List after a single page or section of your website.

Adding Tasks

Then, simply click “Save and Start Adding To-Do’s”.  Here, you can title the task, general just a short sentence describing the issues (details will be added later).  For example “Swap out the main homepage image”.  You can then select which team member you’d like to assign the task to (in most cases, it will be your Project Manager).  You can also attach files as necessary.  Then click “Add this to-do”.

Just in Case

On the off chance that you forgot to assign the task to someone, or you wanted to delete or edit the task, you can simply click the “Unassigned” button, or click the “Edit” button when you hover over the Task Title.

Add Your Task Details

Now here’s the magical part of Basecamp Tasks.  Simply click on the Task, and you’ll be brought to the task’s very own Basecamp Discussion!

Here you can add a longer, more detailed explanation, add attachments and files, and discuss these specific items with our development team.  We can then ask questions back, and these tasks function exactly like a Basecamp discussion.

Completing a Task

Once our team has completed the task, we’ll check the little box to mark it as completed.  This will send you an e-mail notification letting you know that item has been updated, and is ready for you to review.  On the off chance that the task wasn’t completed the way you had hoped, you can simply uncheck the box, and add further notes, files, and clarification.

Task Archives

The Task and associated Discussion never goes away, the task simply gets shuffled to the “Completed To-Do’s” section of your Project, and the Discussion appears with the rest of the Basecamp Discussions.

Conclusion

Basecamp is an amazing tool.  It keeps both parties accountable, facilitates communcation, and ensures that the project runs smoothly from the first meeting to discuss the Statement of Work, to the final Launch of the site.  With Basecamp, you can’t go wrong!

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