It is said that the discovery of The Golden Section in Classical Greece was the result of the quest to identify the ideal proportion and balance in life and art. Throughout history and to this day The Golden Section has inspired the work of countless biologists, artists, musicians, historians, architects, and psychologists. We here at 37signals are no exception. When we began designing the new Basecamp we knew that adhering to these principles would result in software with pleasing, harmonious proportions.
Take the Projects Screen, for example. The tightly aligned Project Cards layout fits precisely inside a perfectly proportioned Golden Rectangle. Plotting the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144) on a horizontal and vertical axis produces a mathematical spiral that the user’s eye subliminally follows to land on the first card in the group, an ideal and harmonious place to begin their work.
Furthermore, you’ll notice that each Project Card displays up to ten people per card. This again is by design, as 10 is the sum of the first three prime numbers (2, 3, 5). More over, the shapes of the avatars are circles, which is unanimously an infinitely perfect shape. But we couldn’t leave such an important element of the design just to chance. Here’s how we created perfect circles for the new default avatars:
Starting with a square, duplicate it and rotate 45º. The difference between the base line of the original square and the apex of the rotated square equals the diameter of the circle. To put it another way, when a line AB is sectioned at point C, it does so in such a way that AC is the same ratio to AB as CB is to AC: AC:AB = CB:AC.
Projects designed for people
One of the best things about the new Basecamp is the single-page projects. With everything about your project in one place, this is where the bulk of work in Basecamp gets done.
Because this page would be used primarily by people, we studied the proportions of the human body. By using the body as our inspiration we think we’ve created a page that fades into the background so people can focus on their work. Just like that OXO Good Grips potato peeler feels so great in your hand, the new Basecamp is like an extension of your own body. In fact, if you shine a black light on the new Basecamp, you can see the precise anthropomorphic principles in use:
We think the new Basecamp is our best work yet. It’s a return to our roots. To the basics. To the foundations of human civilization. This kind of attention to detail isn’t easy and it’s no accident. After all, 37 is a prime number, too.