We honestly can’t remember a more exciting year for Active Collab. After spending a year and a half building something completely different from what we’ve done before, we weren’t sure what the reaction would be once it’s officially released.
Sure, early beta users gave us thumbs up and invaluable feedback, but would the general public feel the same?
Thankfully, the overall reception has been good. We’re proud and happy you like the new Active Collab. We received a ton of positive feedback, as well as a few critiques.
We want to thank you for taking the time to write feedback, bug reports, and letting us know how you feel about the new direction. By all means, keep it coming, your opinion means a lot and helps us make Active Collab better.
We acquired SupportYard, a great app for customer support that lets your team respond to customer emails from one inbox. It’s a user-friendly tool with a very bright future ahead.
It’s free for up to 5 members so give it a try. We use it ourselves to offer customer support, so we know from experience it’s a good software, developed by a good team.
The New Active Collab
The new Active Collab was in development for a year and a half and was initially called Feather (because it’s simple and light). Previous Active Collab had usability and design problems, as well as too many features (a condition called feature creep, also known as featuritis). This made it difficult to use for new users, except a selected few who had incredible perseverance and drive to learn it and make it do incredible things.
The design process involved a lot of discussions, prototyping, testing, iterating, and polishing. Rarely used features were removed or redesigned, but all the core functionality it still there. Active Collab 5 is as powerful as the previous one, but simpler — exactly what we were aiming for.
Be sure to read what the design process looked like — whether you’re a designer, developer, or a business owner, you’ll find it thought-provoking.
A brand new application needed new branding. We wanted to reflect these new values (simplicity, power, friendliness, and ease of use) in our branding, website, and social media.
That’s why we have a smiling face with a check mark as our logo — the new Active Collab is friendly and designed to make your life more comfortable. New website is easy to navigate, clear, and has just enough text to get the point across without burdening you with marketing fluff or information dump.
We started sharing interesting and useful content (in addition to Active Collab updates) via Buffer on our Facebook and Twitter profiles. Our support has also access to our social networks so if you have any questions, you can reach us there too.
We also started publishing on Medium. We love reading texts here and the design is great and uniform (user experience was a big theme for us this year).
More Content and Promotions
We designed our first landing page, which is performing quite nicely. We also wrote a blog post explaining the thinking behind each design decision. If you’re interested in web design, check it out.
We shot and edited video tutorials and had a lot of fun in the process. We strived for short, on point, and interesting videos that can teach you the basics in under 2 minutes.
This year, as previous, we ran a special sweepstake and gave out 50 free Active Collab accounts for Cyber Monday.
We also released a free ebook on Kanban to coincide with the Column view feature. It’s a good resource for anyone looking to get started with agile workflow or needs ideas on how to organize work.
For Basecamp users, we started a special “Switch now and get 180 days for free” promotion.
A Peek at 2016
For the first time ever, we made our feature roadmap public. This is our open commitment to releasing new features and getting things done. It also gives our users a better sense of where we’re heading and an invitation to take part in the process.
For instance, we made a survey about the upcoming chat feature and asked our users what design they prefer — and the results were dividing. So now we have a good grasp of our users’ needs so we can make a chat that will fit everyone. We’re gonna need some time to design a new solution (taking into account the survey results), but rest assured real-time component is coming and will be the next big update for Active Collab.
So far, we finished some features from our roadmap and released them in 5.5 update: Column view, Timeline view, easy self-hosted update, Mail to Project, Basecamp migration, and webhooks.
New features coming real soon are: QuickBooks integration, Trello project import, and language localization.
Mobile apps are coming soon too. The new iOS app is in beta and people are testing it, so it should be released soon. Android app has been designed and is currently in development; it’s still a bit rough around the edges, but it looks and feels amazing so far.
A lot of good things happened in 2015. We have even bigger plans for 2016. Can’t talk about it yet or share any details, but we promise it’ll be awesome. If you like Active Collab in 2015, you’re gonna love what’s coming next!