Campfire: a UX dumpster fire

For some background, Basecamp or whatever they call themselves these days is launching Campfire, part of a line of new products. I like the premise, that a company can just buy basic software like a chat app and host it themselves.

But, my goodness, is Campfire’s UX terrible.

Basecamp uses a product methodology called Shape Up, which is made to address developer egos more than anything else. The core problem is that since developers make the most money in the room, they tend to think they are the most qualified to answer any question, no matter how far removed it is from the domain of software engineering. The other main problem Shape Up addresses is Developer Infantilism, where software developers need to be entertained and feel like they are in charge at work. Letting a professional designer create the UX and UI would be boring for developers, so we can’t have that.

Behold the product demo.

New message indicators use only font weight, which won’t be visible on many low-end screens.

DMs are found with a horizontal scroll, which will be a nightmare with more than a dozen people at the company.

The whole hierarchy is simply off. The UX of chat apps is pretty well fleshed out, and honestly you can basically rip off Slack or Discord and be 95% fine.

This just feels like the culmination of Shape Up. Designers be damned and let the Smart Developers tinker since they know better.