Monthly Archives: March 2009

The secret to Xero’s success

Interesting to read Xero, who Jakob Neilsen decorated as having one of the 10 best application user interfaces, talking about one of the secrets to their success on their blog, One secret to our success. To quote:

In our methodology, the prototype is the specification. It speaks for itself. Our developers use the prototype as their blueprint throughout the development process, all the way through to final QA testing.

It’s important to clarify what I mean by prototypes. We don’t create working prototypes. We create design prototypes called screenflows: click-by-click simulations of the user experience, showing every interaction necessary to complete a given task. A screenflow is based on a scenario of a person completing a common task. We simulate all the screens, all the clicks and all the data entry necessary to start and complete the task. The result is a slideshow that simulates somebody using the software.

Screenflows are an ideal blueprint for developers. They make it obvious what needs to happen, when, where, how and why.

If you haven’t tried out Xero’s accounting application, you can sign up for a free trial and have a look for yourself. Certainly a very impressive experience, even more so for anyone who has ever used MYOB or one of countless other pieces of hard to use accounting software.