Basecamp VS Asana
Basecamp (see our review) is one of the oldest, most widely used project management software systems in existence today. It was originally created by a private web application company, 37Signals, to service the business’s own pressing need for an efficient project management system. According to Jason Fried, the president of 37Signals and one of its founders:
As we started getting busier we needed a better way to manage our client projects. We looked around at what was on the market, tried out a few options, and felt dissatisfied with what we saw.
37Signals began design on a unique, web-based project management solution in 2003 and symbolically named it Basecamp, perhaps to emphasize how foundational effective task management is to the overall success of any business. This software has long been celebrated for its relatively cheap price tag and undeniably practical design. Over the last decade, Basecamp has attracted over nine million users and hosted an astounding eight million projects. In general, Basecamp users are fiercely partisan, and roughly 97% of current customers say that they would wholeheartedly recommend the software to friends and colleagues.
Though Basecamp is a leader in the arena of online task management solutions, it is not without competition, and one of its most threatening rivals is called Asana (see our review). Like Basecamp in many ways, Asana is a simple, focused project management software, designed to closely track the progression of tasks and enhance interoffice communication. Also similar to Basecamp, it was created to solve an internal productivity problem. Former Facebook executives Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein had worked together for sometime before discovering that they shared a common frustration:
…despite working alongside smart and organized people, we spend too much time doing “work about work”. This wasted energy – writing and reading emails, attending status meetings, and tracking down updates – slows us down, reduces our collective output and keeps us from setting larger goals.
Moskovitz and Rosenstein arrived at the conclusion that email, documents, files, and wiki would never be able to satisfy the “scope of their ambitions.” In 2008, they set out to build Asana, a new kind of web application that could help manage Facebook’s internal coordination. Soon after being implemented company-wide, Asana began to replace daily meetings, reduce emails, and generally increase efficiency. The software was officially released to the public in 2011 and is now used on six continents by a diverse range of industries and businesses.
There’s no question that Basecamp and Asana share many characteristics. Both are software systems designed to streamline task management, and both trade on the fact that they have a clean, user-friendly interface. Similar as they appear, however, Basecamp and Asana differ in a a few important ways. Let’s take a look at each program and see how these competitors stack up when it comes to pricing, integrations, and other crucial features.
Table of Contents
Web-Hosted or Licensed:
Both are entirely web-based.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
Because they are based in the cloud, Basecamp and Asana require users to have access to the internet and an up-to-date web browser.
Basecamp prices range from $20/month (for 10 projects and 3GB storage) to $150/month (for unlimited projects and 100 GB storage). If you need more storage than is allotted for your plan, you can simply purchase it for a small fee. There are no per user costs, which is a big plus. All plans come with unlimited users and full access to customer support. Basecamp offers a free, two-month trial so that you can test the software before making a purchase. There is little risk involved in subscribing as there are no long term contracts and you can cancel at any time with no penalties. Basecamp is 100% free for teachers.
Unlike Basecamp, Asana is completely free for groups of up to 15 people. The free plan is somewhat limited, though, so if you need premium features and better tech support your best option is to purchase one of the paid plans which range from $20/month (for up to 5 users) to $750/month (for up to 100 users). Premium plans offer priority support (and access to a dedicated support rep), unlimited dashboards and guests, and the ability to create private projects and private teams.
The clear winner here is Basecamp. Like I pointed out before, Asana does offer a free option, but if you really want to use the software at peak efficiency you need to buy a premium plan. In stark contrast, Basecamp lets you sign up unlimited users and gives everyone equal opportunity to access customer support. It is also considerably cheaper.
Ease of Use:
Basecamp and Asana are on a pretty even keel when it comes to user-friendliness. These programs are clean and simple, with intuitive, straightforward user interfaces. Both offer things like simple one-step sign-up, email integration, great mobile apps, easily configurable notifications, quick-add features, and a variety of keyboard shortcuts. Additionally, Basecamp and Asana support drag-and-drop functionality, making it a breeze to add files, change the order of tasks, and reorganize projects.
If ease of use is all you’re after, you cannot go wrong with Basecamp or Asana. Both have been specifically designed to be as uncomplicated as possible. There is essentially no learning curve involved with either software, so if you have even the most basic computer skills you should be able to work like a pro in a matter of minutes.
Basecamp and Asana both come with some of the most practical project management features you could ask for, although neither software offers high level tools like resource management or risk calculation. Considering how simple they are, however, it’s amazing how much you can achieve with these humble task managers. Each program really pack a punch.
The two are organized in a similar fashion. Basecamp, like Asana, centers around individual projects which contain tasks or lists of tasks. In Basecamp, users are sorted into different organizations and groups, while Asana users are placed into workspaces, organizations, and teams. Same idea, different jargon. Arranging account members in this way makes it easier to send quick group announcements, tag a large number of people into discussions at one time, and basically improve communication across the board. Using either software, you can assign complex user permissions and even allow clients limited access to projects.
Both Basecamp and Asana make it possible to comment on specific projects/tasks and start discussions threads with multiple users. Both allow for the attachment of documents and/or images to work items and also let you schedule meetings, task due dates, and project deadlines on personal or office-wide calendars. Additionally, you can use either software to create project templates or copy common tasks.
There are a few small differences, of course. Asana distinguishes itself from Basecamp when it comes to reporting. It has recently added some very basic analytical tools, including a dashboard that helps chart project progress. Basecamp does not offer any kind of reporting at this time. However, Basecamp does give users the opportunity to collaboratively edit text documents – a cool feature with lots of potential for many industries. For the most part, though, Basecamp and Asana are evenly matched when it comes to the selection, variety, and quality of their features. If you’d like to compare the two for yourself, check out Basecamp’s features here or click this link to see what Asana has to offer.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Basecamp and Asana may be bare-bones project management tools, but both have invested highly in add-ons and 3rd-party integrations. Basecamp, especially, offers a staggering number of add-ons, apps, and integrations, including (but by no means limited to):
- Project Viewer
- 88 Miles
- Time Doctor
In addition, developers who wish to design their own 3rd party integrations can use Basecamp’s API. Click here for more information.
Asana gives users the option to develop custom apps on its open API as well, and it also boasts a truly impressive list of integrations:
- Chrome Extension
- Google Drive
- Fancy Hands
- Campaign Monitor
Asana’s selection of integrations is excellent, but Basecamp has it just slightly beat in the number and sheer variety of applications offered.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Basecamp and Asana offer similar customer support services. Both keep up a decent presence on social media and offer self-help tools like instructional articles, searchable databases, and blogs. All of these tools are good sources for updates, and can also be used to find information about new feature releases or just general industry news. You can check out Basecamp’s full support page here, or click this link to see what Asana does in terms of customer service.
Both companies answer questions and address technical problems via support request forms. As a rule, I tend to dislike that method of customer service. No one is particularly filled with confidence or reassured about their problems after typing out a few phrases into a generic service form and sending it off into the void. Having the option to email customer support directly is preferable, in my opinion, and seems far less cold and impersonal. That said, Basecamp has a good reputation for answering support requests quickly – response time is usually under two minutes during normal operating hours. And all Basecamp users are given equal treatment. By contrast, Asana offers preferential, priority service to customers with more costly subscriptions.
Basecamp really rises above Asana when it comes to the quality of support material offered. Asana has created a few tutorial videos, but most are hopelessly generic and stuffed with meaningless jargon. Basecamp’s selection of instructional videos is actually pretty impressive. The majority of them are brief enough to be watchable, but long enough to convey useful information and teach important concepts. Basecamp also edges Asana out in its level of social media engagement. Asana’s Twitter account is a great place to look for news, reminders, updates, and press releases, but it is rarely used to interact directly with customers. Basecamp’s Twitter feed, on the other hand, is monitored closely during business hours, and service reps are quick to answer questions and reply to tweets.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Basecamp and Asana share a number of excellent qualities, so I suppose it’s not surprising that they share drawbacks as well. The primary complaint from users about these task managers is how inflexible and small-scale they are. Don’t get me wrong, Asana and Basecamp are great at what they do, but they are both fairly limited in scope and functionality. Neither one is a viable option for high level resource management, advanced reporting, scheduling, risk/issue management, or anything else of that nature. For the most part, they are equally unsuited for enterprise use as well.
Asana has a very slight advantage in this category, mainly due to one simple fact: Basecamp’s website is truly awful. Seriously. Basecamp must bring in a tremendous amount of revenue each year and has certainly invested a lot in software designers, marketing, and integrations. We’re talking about an enormous company with millions of users. Why, then, does Basecamp’s website look like it was created for an introductory course in web design at the local community college? How can software with such an intuitive UI be associated with such an awkward, confusing website? Admittedly, I’m just a writer and know nothing of web design, but I know enough to realize that a successful website should not look like it was pieced together with a word processor and a collection of 90s-era clip-art.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Each company excels in a slightly different way, but it’s impossible to declare a clear winner in this category. They have both received a fair number of kudos from their users and professional reviewers, most often in praise of each software’s clean, intuitive UI and undeniable user-friendliness. Additionally, customers are very happy with the wealth of integrations, reliable technical support, and high functioning mobile apps provided by both companies.
Specifically, Basecamp is lauded for offering unlimited users with each plan and for its reasonable, uncomplicated pricing system. Asana stands out most for its basic competence and efficient design, but people are also thrilled with the free subscription option. When it comes to down to customer satisfaction, however, Basecamp and Asana are fairly matched.
Final Verdict on Basecamp vs Asana:
This match was hard to call. For the most part, these two programs are fairly equivalent when it comes to features, integrations, and ease-of-use. They’re both well-designed task managers, deeply rooted in fundamentals. In fact, I’ll just come right out and say what we’re all thinking: Basecamp and Asana are basically the same thing. Except for one teensy little detail, that is. Basecamp is cheaper. Considerably cheaper.
Of course, I’m being hopelessly hyperbolic. Basecamp and Asana are strikingly similar, but not quite interchangeable. Basecamp is certainly cheaper and has slightly better customer service, but Asana has at least one important feature that Basecamp lacks: dashboard reporting. Both have intuitive UIs, but very different aesthetic appeal.
The really encouraging take away from all of this is that you can’t go wrong with either choice, as long as you know what you’re getting into. Comparing Basecamp vs Asana is like comparing a Fuji apple with a Red Delicious. Same fruit, different flavor. Basecamp is a great task manager, and so is Asana. You’re going to spend less with Basecamp, hands down, and that’s why I gave it the win.