Behind the Scenes with Basecamp’s Jason Fried

I’ve been a long time follower of the entrepreneurial work of Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founders of Basecamp.

Their 2010 book “Rework” shaped my approach to Product Management. The book illuminates contrarian ideas on how to “rethink” work. Chapters include ideas such as “meetings are toxic”, “ASAP is poison” and “your estimates suck”.

On the topic of work, Jason Fried recently posted two behind the scenes videos of how the team at Basecamp thinks about product decisions.

The first video discusses the redesign of their company’s homepage,

The second video is a design review of a new feature in Basecamp.

These are my takeaways:

Homepage redesign

  1. Understand the common scenarios (aka challenges) that your customers have, and how your product solves them. This is your marketing.
  2. Who is your primary audience and what is their ultimate goal? This is your marketing pitch and audience.
  3. The concept of enough. The product doesn’t do everything, but it does what you need.

Design review

  1. Goal of the meeting is to figure out the design that will be shipped to production.
  2. Start the meeting by discussing the primary concerns with the proposed designs.
  3. Come back to what is the primary objective of this feature?
  4. Does our solution provide enough to solving the users’ problem?
  5. Consider, what is the simplest thing that could work for this feature. Can be a starting point to ship, and then iterate on.
  6. When designing your solution, think about how you would announce this new feature. Is it a simple explanation in the announcement?
  7. Dogfood it. Get it into production and have the Basecamp team “dogfood it”. If it feels good to the team, ship it to all customers.