Basecamp 3 home
The Basecamp 3 home screen.

I joined Basecamp as a product designer in 2011, and stayed there for about a decade, eventually becoming head of design at the company.

At Basecamp, designers are generalists who build their own interfaces with HTML/CSS/JS in Rails. Over the years, most of my work was equal parts programming and visual design.

Here’s a (woefully incomplete) sampling of a few favorite Basecamp-the-app projects.

Basecamp 2


I joined the company in the midst of building the second version of Basecamp, which was a ground-up rewrite. I worked on a range of new UI concepts that became iconic in our subsequent products. A few of those…

The home screen

In BC2 we started using shapes as metaphors. These cards represented miniature projects, which looked like sheets of paper.

Basecamp 2 projects


Since projects were rectangles, people were circles, and companies were clovers. (This was long enough ago that round avatars were sort of new!)

Basecamp 2 people


We made an alternating timeline design for the Progress view. This concept has found its way into every product since.

Basecamp 2 progress

Classic Mac Mode

My favorite BC2 project is a secret easter egg. Kind of amazed we shipped this. Type “dogcow” to unlock it.

Basecamp 2 progress

Basecamp 3


I helped prototype several early ideas for Basecamp 3 before it existed, but I wasn’t involved during its initial development period, because I stayed behind working on Basecamp 2.

After launch, I showed up fashionably late, and helped build the Home screen, then shored up the entire UI with a cohesive visual refresh of the many dozens of screens in the app. We got that done in about 8 weeks with just two people primarily working on it.

My other favorite Basecamp 3 project is Boosts: a unique take on the Likes/Reactions patterns that have infiltrated just about every software platform on Earth.

A cloud of boosts
Boosts are short bits of text or emoji to show support for someone.

I also spent a year on onboarding and conversion improvements for Basecamp 3. We ran a battery of A/B tests to verify a range of design ideas around signup and account setup.

We improved our conversion rates, but more importantly, made signup a much better experience. More on that in this post.

Design leadership

In 2019 I started managing Basecamp’s design team of 6 people. Most of the people on the team had been at the company for a long time — some for longer than me. Stepping into a leadership role like that is a humbling experience.

My role was mainly supportive and tactical: helping the team overcome challenges, advocating for them, and encouraging & moving us forward.

Some of that work involved…

  • Maintaining regular 1:1s and team meetings.
  • Creating new spaces for collaboration and discussion.
  • Hiring new people on the team.
  • Performance reviews and feedback.
  • Improving documentation and definitions for how we were structured and leveled.
  • Coordinating projects and giving feedback on UI, code, copywriting, etc.
  • Communicating strategy and product direction.
  • Implementing new processes for quality control and reactive work.

Related links:

More projects →