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Chapter 57:

Manage Debt

Next: Open Doors

Pay off your code and design “bills”

We usually think of debt in terms of money but it comes in other forms too. You can easily build up code and design debt.

Hack together some bad code that’s functional but still a bit hairy and you’re building up debt. Throw together a design that’s good enough but not really good and you’ve done it again.

It’s ok to do this from time to time. In fact, it’s often a needed technique that helps you do the whole Get-Real-ASAP thing. But you still need to recognize it as debt and pay it off at some point by cleaning up the hairy code or redesigning that so-so page.

The same way you should regularly put aside some of your income for taxes, regularly put aside some time to pay off your code and design debt. If you don’t, you’ll just be paying interest (fixing hacks) instead of paying down the principal (and moving forward).

We made Basecamp using the principles in this book. It combines all the tools teams need to get work done in a single, streamlined package. With Basecamp, everyone knows what to do, where things stand, and where to find things they need.