Webstock rules, now break them

Five years ago, at the first Webstock, I did a short demo of my design process. That happened to be the day we formed Xero.

This year, Xero sponsored Webstock and a contingent of our team spent two days learning from the world’s top design and technology experts. As always, it was awe inspiring.

For me, the resounding theme this year was: rules are made to be broken – don’t let the status quo or conventional wisdom stop you from inventing the future.

We were lucky to have John Gruber stop by Xero HQ for lunch, the day before his talk. He spoke about the evolution of the Apple user experience and how Apple have continually re-invented themselves and their approach to do design in the last 10 years.


That’s been our design philosophy at Xero from that very first day: we don’t have a style guide or a UI guide. When we hire people the first thing we tell them: it’s your job to make the user experience better – find a better way – never assume the current way of doing things is the best way.

At the conference a developer interested in a job at Xero said to me “You guys must be getting close to being done, there’s not much more you can do, is there?” Reflecting on Gruber’s talk my response was this “Would you rather have worked at Apple during the early days or now?”

We’ve always said: accounting is just the beachhead, our ultimate goal is to build a platform that beautifully manages all of the world’s small business transactions. That’s a massive ambition, we’re far from reaching it and it’s going to take a lot of talented people to get us there. In many ways the boring work is done, now we need to completely rethink the underlying systems that shape how small businesses operate.

So…would you rather have worked at Xero in the early days or now?


February 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I’ve been an Xero user for over a year and get giddy when I see new tools. Bankfeeds… I couldn’t sleep. I’m a photographer out of Seattle and this post asks, what could be improved? As a self-describe visual-analytic, I would like much much more ways to visualize my data especially in the reports. Keep up the strong work, I recommend Xero immediately to any small business owner asking what I use.

Richard Francis
February 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Hi Sean

I hear you! That’s why we’ve developed Spotlight Reporting – cool charts, data reanalysed, KPIs and more.

We launched at Xerocon and the software will initially be available to accountants so they can do awesome reporting out of Xero + Spotlight for clients.

There was no-one else we wanted to team up with on this step forward than Xero 🙂


Webstock write-up wrangling
February 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm

[…] Xero (@xero): There ain’t no party like a Webstock party Webstock rules, now break them Trashy content on the web Taking […]

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