INTO is a web/print startup specializing in "cutting edge work, quick turn-around times, and a high level of web expertise." Below, INTO founder Kirk Strobeck details the creative ways his team uses Basecamp, including as a content management system and wireframing tool!
How do you use our products and why do you like them?
We depend on Basecamp. It has become a cornerstone for our project management and client communication. As soon as we get wind of a project, we've got it set up in Basecamp; it is step 1. Out of that we grow our communication--instantly gaining credibility and dependability by messaging and stockpiling infos online. Of all the aspects of our business, it's one of the few that we don't have to worry about.
However, project management isn't its only purpose at INTO. Upon browsing 37Signals we saw three letters on the footer, "API," we did a quick search for a way to connect to the backdoor of our favorite web application. After seeing the available data and the need for a simple server-side CMS that worked like Basecamp, we figured why not just use Basecamp as a CMS. We're a transparent company, so if it works — use it. We did, and we're happy to say it works great.
We now use Basecamp in the following ways:
- As a project management tool
- As a content management system
- As a website wireframing tool
As a project management tool
When someone sings, it's an incredible instrument. Not only can you hear the tune, tempo, and vibe of a song, but you can clearly absorb what is being communicated. In the same way, Basecamp is an incredble tool. While you work your way through a project, there are not only deliverable results, but a detailed record of everything that has been done and is yet to be done. It formalizes our business practices without skipping a beat and becomes a solid escape from redundant explanations... "Check basecamp, it's all up there."
As a content management system
For some light-weight websites we do what we call a "Basecamp install." In these websites we have fixed navigation and semi-flexible content. While the API doesn't support graphic integration yet, it does lend itself to text changes. Here are a few examples.
We didn't want to do a large CMS install for this client, because practically it only needed recent news. We could apply manual updates for the other sections. We made a backend script that checks Basecamp, and sees what new news posts are available, then writes a new content file and refreshes it for the next visit. While it is a flash movie, we simply import the textfile and have a news section. We don't only pull the messages here, but also the employee information from the "People" tab mounts data to the site.
A script checks Basecamp, sees what new news posts are available, then writes a new content file and refreshes it for the next visit.
ScottysTable.com and ArmineArt.com
With these examples we don't use a cache file, it is a direct request and display. While there is a minor loadtime cost, the benefits outweigh it. As simply as you write or edit a message, the site is updated and refreshed. This offers an easy way to deliver our client a quick solution without worrying about backend functionality and appearence.
Additionally, since you can pull the data you want, you can make using Basecamp and updating your website a single seamless process. Assign an internal todo to an employee and tab over to post a new message in the "News" category, now publicly visible on your site.
We're pleased to say that we've only scratched the surface of what is possible with this business extension. Just imagine the potential ways to communicate internal progress quickly, publicly, and seamlessly -- you also get to use the line "If you can use Basecamp, you can update your website."
As a website wireframing tool
One of the easiest internal sharing uses is website navigation/content wireframing. Using the same principals as the "Basecamp install," we create a Basecamp for our client and give them the flexiblity to edit page names (titles) and message body (page content) using textile. It's easy to work through the information mountain, while simultaneously approving content and finalizing structure.
Using Basecamp for website navigation/content wireframing.
What we used before and why we switched
As far as project management goes, we used old-school email and paper todo lists. We're in a better place now. As far as jimmy rigging a CMS, we also had used GoPlan, but found the Basecamp solution much more flexible.
Do you use a 37signals product in an interesting or noteworthy way? Let us know.