Deep understanding comes before designing

When 37signals recently released their new Basecamp product, it was without a major feature: time tracking.

They recently posted about this, asking the community to help them understand time tracking, before they went into design mode for this feature:

since we don’t track time at 37signals, we don’t have a deep understanding of the time tracking problem. Plain and simple, this is why time tracking isn’t in the initial release of the all new Basecamp. We simply don’t understand it well enough.

Help us understand how and why you track time

Before we can commit to saying yes or no to adding time tracking in a future version of the all new Basecamp, we need to understand the problem better. It’s time to observe, study, learn, and understand how and why our customers track time.

If you’d like to help, we’d love to hear from you.

I love that they’re confident enough in what they know, and what they don’t know, to put it out there publically, and ask for help. That’s pretty awesome.

They could have simply created time tracking functionality, and it probably would have been pretty good. But they acknowledged they they don’t understand it well enough. And they opened up about that, and asked for help from the people who know it best – their current and (potentially) future users.

I’m sure they’re going to walk away from this with an incredible amount of insight and knowledge from a wide array of folks.

And it’s quite possible that the people who help influence how this ends up working will end up becoming Basecamp users (if they’re not already). Win-Win.

Yea, that’s rockin.