The Future of Accounting – part 3
This week I’d like to look at why ease of use and design, matter.
One of the problems I had in practice was that desk top accounting software can be difficult to use. So when I introduced it to my clients they had a big learning curve and it certainly wasn’t an enjoyable experience. Learning the software took them lots of time and they had to spend money on external training and support.
My clients used to say that the software made them feel dumb and they made many mistakes. Clients who now use Xero tell us that it makes them feel smart. We’re also noticing that the quality of the financial information means we don’t have to fix mistakes anymore.
All accounting software enables the user to conduct business transactions and aggregate information into a report. But the design of the traditional windows-based accounting software is technical, clunky, non-intuitive and just plain hard to use. There has been a revolution in the delivery of web-based services and the basic premise is that it has to be extremely easy to use so that users require no training, and there must be cost savings associated with training resources. This sounds simple but is actually hard to do. It really does require specialist interaction designers.Xero has focused on securing the smartest and most design-led people. By having an understanding of what small businesses do every day and how they interact with software, our designers have developed an accounting system that’s easy to use. Desktop software was designed before internet banking, email and the world wide web. Xero took a fresh look at the processes, and this approach has allowed us to build an accounting system that is very easy to use and you don’t need training.
Customers and accountants alike find the user interface – the actual way the software looks – uncluttered, clearly laid out, but at the same time beautiful and even sexy. That’s right we’ve made accounting sexy! It’s not a claim we make I might add, but it’s what customers have told us.
Xero empowers people to feel smart, get on top of the books and arms them with vital information – with everything at their fingertips. My favourite quote from a client remains, “You had me at Dashboard”. See, it really is that good.
Hamish Edwards is a Chartered Accountant and the co-founder of Xero. You can view the introduction to this series here.