With all the technology tools available today you would think that software developers would begin to create improved GUI (Graphical User Interface pronounced “gooey”). We see it in movies, on TV, on our mobile devices and even some web sites. I have been involved in computer software for nearly 30 years. I have seen a myriad of time and billing softwares from the accounting industry that provide difficult to use and learn applications that layer screen after screen making a laborious experience out of doing our daily work. You would think that after so many releases they would get it right. It still surprises me when I see clever marketing and packaging for products like ACT, Outlook, Time Slips and others that look so sleek, but then when I load up the application it looks nothing like the clever logos and packaging. Now I will admit I love the look and feel of some of Macs products and web pages are getting better all the time. However, I feel like most applications even web and especially in the accounting industry, look like a programmer designed it for function only. Screen upon screen with drop down boxes and datasheets that look more like excel with little sense of process and workflow. They seem to solve data issues, but not “users” issues, which leaves us with horrible GUI. Come on already, we are not in DOS anymore. Right?
When we first looked to rewrite and redesign our Practice Management (PM) software we were concerned about retaining our main theme of the “single screen interface”. We also wanted to eliminate some clutter while attempting to add new features. Lastly we wanted to simplify many existing processes in our Time Billing, Work Flow and Document Management sections. Using the latest .NET framework tools from Microsoft and other technologies gave our programmers new life for creative development. While this task was done entirely in house, we felt it would be critical to consult with our outsourced advertising team on design issues. This team, who were Mac users and to our benefit all twenty something’s brought to the table some of the latest design elements to our software. Oh to be young again with a fresh take on things! This approach brought new ideas to our already unique single screen design. When we combined our teams together it was like magic and “Wa-La” we cooked up the new GUI and new features for our latest version of PM which we released in October 2010.
So many people will say what’s all the fuss about the way software looks? Most people are looking for function and process especially in our industry. It is no secret that it is the GUI that we and our users have to touch everyday all day. So why not spend resources on this part of the software too? This doesn’t mean we ignore function it means we enhance it. Thus, we have invested in both the look and the function retaining its purpose and simplicity. Now this is a fine balance to try to achieve but we feel we are well on our way to building the best Practice Management software on the market today. One of the keys to our success is that we are still listening to our users because it is for them that we exist. With them, our programmers and designers we continue to make improvements with each new release. We are confident that successful design will bring improved productivity, efficiency and experience. The results mean that we and our staff can easily learn and use our software quickly and effectively. After all isn’t that what we are all after; state of the art software for our offices with a pleasant, successful experience?