This post was originally posted on our company blog.
On this day five years ago, 37signals released Basecamp, their first product. We had been following their blog for some time, but this was something else. We tried it out at once. The feeling, design and usability was like nothing else on the web at the time. It just felt right and it really helped us manage our projects. We were just about to release UNICEF Swedens site and started communicating through Basecamp right away. We still do.
Following 37signals and the development of Basecamp during those early days changed the way I thought about design and interaction. I’ve had two experiences like this in our little agency’s history. The first was when Joels classmate forced him to use web-standards. Once we started writing standardized markup we never looked back (we were one of the first agencies in Sweden to build sites according to standards). Besides all the obvious advantages like more appreciation from google, faster pageloads, easier development process, cross-browser support and all the other things we take for granted today the most important thing was that it makes you define what every part of a website is. This changed the way I thought about creating websites and lead to thinking about what, where and how the content and disposition of a site in a way I didn’t before. I wasn’t even really into designing for the web, print design was what I wanted to do. Standards changed that.
The other time was, and probably still is, reading about how 37signals think and practice design, communication and running a small business. Using Basecamp and their other products and getting real. It has inspired our work and we have since been dreaming about developing our own web-based application. And we’re actually almost there, we have a working application that a bunch of friends are using and testing. We’ll see how it goes.