So, Basecamp vs Asana, which one is really better? Since Matt and I started Gobble Logic in 2012, I have been on the quest for the perfect project management tool. I’ve tried all the popular tools, especially the ones designated for web development and design agencies. I settled on Basecamp from 37 Signals because it was simplistic; I could add several people on a project, manage what they see, and include the client on projects and discussions.
During my time with Basecamp, I tried various others: Podio, Trello, Apollo, etc. Podio came close to a replacement because it’s so generic; it can handle just about anything allowing users to make many custom fields and data handlers. Trello came close for just a regular todo list, but for some reason it just left a lot to be desired. Apollo was just as costly as Basecamp, had similar features, but it was a little too cumbersome to use.
These last months I’ve actually used Wunderlist and sometimes Todoist to manage my own personal tasks. Rarely did I even go into Basecamp. I left it for the rest of our team to use (which wasn’t a whole lot of usage, mind you).
Last week during a WordPress co-working day in Tampa, my friend Jim True recommended I try Asana. I had never even heard of it. Maybe in passing, but I never evaluated it, like I had the other 15 pieces of software back in 2013.
I gave Asana a whirl the next day. So out of Basecamp vs Asana, who is the winner? Well, the day after I tried it, I immediately made the decision to kill off Basecamp. Here are some of the major reasons why we switched from Basecamp to Asana:
1. Basecamp can be costly for a firm like ours
We had projects coming in and out like nobody’s business. At any given time I could have had 60 projects open. Granted, a third of those were internal. Basecamp charges a flat $99/mo. No free tier unless you are a teacher, student, non-profit, etc.
What about Asana? It’s free for 15 team members and unlimited projects. Absolutely no project number limitations. At time of this writing we have a team of 4, sometimes 5 or 6 depending on additional contractor help, so the free plan works out perfectly for us. You have to watch your monthly business expenses, because the little things add up! Asana’s premium plan is only $9.99/mo which is only a tenth of what I’d be paying with 37 Signal’s Basecamp.
Bottom line: Basecamp charges a flat $99/mo fee while Asana charges for users when you pass 15 of them. I know which one works better for me there. Ding Ding, Asana wins this round!
Annual savings: $1188 (wow! for a small business that’s mega $)
2. Basecamp has no high-level view
Basecamp’s design is centered around the user focusing on one thing on a screen. I understand why it’s designed like it is, to really rein in your attention to the particular task or discussion at hand, and it creates a clean work environment. For some reason I’m just not happy about that, especially since you can’t get back to the previous screen unless you click around (was I missing some great keyboard shortcut here?) Asana takes the high-level view approach and gives you a three column view. Granted, this makes Asana appear a bit more cluttered, but I do enjoy seeing everything out there in one view, without clicking back to simply view all my to-do lists.
Basecamp’s Typical Workspace
Asana’s Typical Workspace
3. Asana is just faster to create and manage tasks
Keyboard shortcuts anyone? This is also why I clung unto Wunderlist for a long time. The keyboard shortcuts are amazing. I can’t tell you how much time a user can save, by not even touching their mouse. It really is a time hog when you have to keep going back to it. Asana has around 30 or 40 keyboard shortcuts that make your flow faster. In Basecamp, everything is a click click type action. Especially for assigning tasks– it’s fairly cumbersome. We even encountered a bug with the due date and assigning task function. I don’t have this issue in Asana, it’s more like return, type, return, tab, enter, type, etc.
4. Asana’s to-do lists within to-do lists, and tagging
We love making tired lists. Granted, if we want to go crazy we just use something like Workflowy to really get out brains going. But to have the ability to create subtasks within a single task is incredibly helpful and useful. Basecamp doesn’t have this feature. Another small feature that basecamp doesn’t have is task and person linking. Much like Twitter and now Facebook, in Asana, I can type the @ symbol and begin typing the name of a task, project or person to tag them, which will automatically link to a task/project/person in question. I can also merge and copy tasks! Bulk editing of tasks is also handy!
5. Better Slack integration for Asana vs Basecamp
Basecamp: Okay, this makes me sad. A search on Slack repository returns nothing for ‘basecamp’ except Zapier. But aha! Zapier to the rescue because they do in fact have an integration with plenty of options. The only downside to that is the fact that you do have API call limits on Zapier’s end so if you have a lot of things already with their service and are using a free tier, this might be a problem.
6. Seamless Harvest integration
We use Harvest online time tracking software. It’s an integral part of our business. I generate estimates, turn them into invoices, duplicate them, generate invoices on the fly based on hours, track my time, and view time sheets from my team. Asana has a seamless integration into Harvest, whereas with Basecamp I had to rely on the Chrome plugin that injects itself into Basecamp tasks. The more plugins I can get rid of in Chrome, the better. Occasionally I’ll have hangups in Basecamp or other tools where I’m tracking time because of that plugin. So, it’s nice to have software that simply integrates with it rather than a clunky browser extension.
7. Advanced task search
Frosting on the cake here. It is amazing how many times I’m about to hop on a client call and I need to update them on what was completed by my team. In Basecamp, I can’t seem to find anything. Their search is limited and where are the tasks? Where are John’s tasks? I have no idea. Asana takes a detailed approach. I can easily filter out completed tasks from any project within the system, or several projects. It is especially useful if I’m checking in on specific team members to make sure they’re blasting through their tasks for the week.
Basecamp’s Search Feature
8. Project templates in Basecamp vs Asana
You can easily create project templates in Basecamp. This has been a long-time feature for many years and very loved. I almost didn’t switch because of this. But guess what? Asana has project templates and some are pre-made which is extremely useful. If you want to create your own template in Asana, just create project as a template, then repeatedly copy the project when you need to. That’s it!
Project Templates in Basecamp
Project Templates in Asana
Asana just works better for what we do. Perhaps for others, Basecamp would be a better choice, but in 2017, I find that hard to believe. Asana is a true task and project management system whereas Basecamp seems like an over glorified inbox when you really look at it since it has a chat feature, message board, post updates, and comments littered everywhere. So when it comes to Basecamp vs Asana, Asana is the clear winner, hands down in terms of features and price.
I would like to say that since this change has happened, we will no longer be inviting clients to view our internal projects. While still entirely possible with Asana, it was never popular, and clients generally preferred sending us feedback via email. There are of course exceptions to that, especially with our software development projects.
Final note: if you’re wondering how we migrated all our projects from Basecamp to Asana– we did it manually (as in, copy and pasting tasks over, re-uploading documents, etc). It was a great opportunity to clean them up and trash projects that weren’t necessary to keep around.
First published Apr 05, 2014. Revised and updated Mar 14, 2017.