Before I began managing my projects in Basecamp I'd just email my clients back and forth and attach their mockups in emails. It's a simple way of communicating with them, but it led to reeeeally long email threads. I don't mind communicating with them through email if they say they prefer it, but I often find that clients won't stick to one thread, or I can't easily find the mockups and feedback that I'm looking for. When I started using Basecamp it was like all that 'inbox stress' just went away. I finally had one place where me and my clients could keep everything: files, discussions, to do's, feedback, notes...
I can't sing enough praises for Basecamp. Seriously, I LOVE it. But it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to use it. Since it's so diverse and easy to use, there are a million ways you can manage projects in it. I googled how other designers use Basecamp but didn't come up with anything useful, so I created my own unique way of using Basecamp.
I send this video to my clients which helps explain how I use Basecamp.
[video width="1920" height="902" mp4="http://shelancersclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/How-I-use-Basecamp.mp4"][/video]
The video above gives you a basic walkthrough of one of my Basecamp project pages, but the video is tailored to my clients, so I'm going to go into a little more depth here for my fellow Shelancers!
Here's a step-by-step look at how I manage my projects using Basecamp
Because I start at the bottom of the page in the video, I'm going to do the same here. Weird and random, I know, but hey ho.
Basecamp allows you to create basic text documents and store them on the project page, which you can use for anything really! I like to keep the page simple for my clients, so I only include 3 text documents:
1. How we'll use Basecamp. Even though I send the video above to my clients, I like to provide them with a text doc too. After all, it can be a pain to keep watching a video just to find one section you need.
2. Feedback guidelines. Some freelancers feel hesitant about giving their clients guidelines and setting boundaries. My friend told me that she feels like she's being too bossy when she does that, but here's why she's wrong: clients love to be told what to do! It takes the guesswork out of the process for them. Your clients like you to be streamlined and organized. They like being told how they can make the process brilliant and get the moneys worth out of you. I don't set rigid guidelines on absolutely everything, but I like to give my clients some guidance on how to provide useful feedback because I've had clients provide feedback that isn't decisive, clear or helpful in the past, and that doesn't help me create great work for them.
3. Important dates & invoice link. Do you ever get clients asking you to remind them of their payment dates, or resend them their invoice link? My clients payment dates are on their invoice and in our emails, but I like to add it to Basecamp so they can easily access it. It's nice to make the process as easy as possible for your clients.
Sometimes me or the client need to access their questionnaire, invoice or contract. Instead of hunting through my computer for them (or the client doing that) I just store them in Basecamp.
To Do lists
This is the fun part! I create separate to do lists for me and my client. My list includes when I'm going to start and finish the project, and when I need to email my client their mockups. The awesome thing about these lists is that you can give each task a due date and it is then added to the Project calendar. For example, in my to do list below you'll see that I'm due to send phase one of the project (color palette + 3 main logos) to my client on Wednesday, May 20th.
And here it is on my project calendar, along with every other to do item:
I'm going to go into further details about my project timelines in a separate article.
This is the section where I discuss EVERYTHING with the client, instead of emailing back and forth. When I've completed their mockups I create a discussion from the to do item and upload the mockups there. My client is notified right away via email, and they can either log in to Basecamp and leave a comment with feedback or they can hit reply on the notification email they received and just add their feedback that way. Basecamp then posts that feedback as a comment. I've shown you a little example of this in the video!