What Can We Learn From Basecamp User Onboarding

I love project management tools. Probably because for more than a decade I've been trying to organise multiple projects in something that's easy to manage. 13 years later I'm still searching for the perfect tool.

After reviewing Asana registration and onboarding, Monday onboarding and my favourite ClickUp onboarding, I've decided to check out one of the oldest project management tools - Basecamp. It was launched in 2004, has a very unique design style and loved by over 120.000 companies.

In this post, I'm going to slightly change the concept. Instead of a screen by screen review, I'll go through them quickly and then go deeper about one thing that I really liked.




Have to say that Basecamp sign up process is very easy to follow. Almost everything is optional and skippable. Beautiful design and great navigation give you the feeling of progress without too much effort. That's really wonderful taking into account that there are actually 5 steps (forms).

So let's take a closer look at the process.

In my opinion, this is a great example of clean and friendly design. Forms are very short, and the description is super clear. First time I saw it, I thought "Omg, five steps. Life is too short for long sign up flows". But the smiley logo, beautiful design and messaging, calmed me down.

It works fast, and the animation is very nice. I can feel the progress as I move from screen to screen and that motivates me to continue.

I personally think that steps 3-5 should be part of onboarding and not registration. Also, using selectable boxes instead of checkboxes works well for many products.

I'm glad that almost nothing is mandatory and I can easily skip it. However, I'm certain that if it's optional, it shouldn't be in sign up. Let me in, give me something asap, don't ask me too much. I have only a few minutes to play with the app. The longer the registration, the lower the chances I'll invest in learning the app.

I wouldn't say that I hate it, but totally not happy when I asked to share or invite someone to the app before I even saw it. I understand that for those who are familiar with the app it would be helpful. However, for me, it's ridiculous. It's like asking to meet parents on the first date.

One more thing here. Saving is a bit long here and taking into account that there is no any loader animation makes me feel like something went wrong for a second. It would be great to add at least an overlay with some text explaining the status.


The onboarding starts with the 2 min video. I'm usually quite sceptical about using videos in onboarding. But they did a great job. The video is very clear, and it's about me and not about features. So it is helpful, and I actually watched it to the end.

Next, there is a balloon which suggests help in setting up the first project. Same as the registration funnel, the onboarding has its steps counter. There are four steps, and nothing is mandatory.

But what is even cooler, is that the last step is a message about the project that you can send to your team. Basecamp wants you to send this message, so they wrote a message for example. You can just hit send, and that's it. Love it.


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Basecamp registration and onboarding funnels are great examples of motivation via gamification. There are only two ways to do funnel right - make it short or make it fun. Basecamp didn't want to make it short. They are asking a lot of not necessary question during registration. And even though the forms are skippable, it may feel like a waste of time and a barrier (I want to see the app, but instead stuck in that funnel). But it actually doesn't feel that way. And that's because of steps counter.

By showing steps in every funnel Basecamp managed to add a fun and motivating element to the flow. The step-by-step technique works perfectly for the onboarding process. This game mechanic aims to make the process of first-time interaction with a product as easy and understandable as possible. You feel the progress, which motivates you to continue. You know exactly where you're in the funnel. The final step is going to feel like an achievement and "success celebration".

If you have more then 2-3 steps funnel and you're not succeeding in making it fun and engaging, I would recommend adding step-by-step education.