Thursday, 17 April 2014 15:13

How MYOB plans to improve the user experience

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MYOB puts a lot of effort into providing users with a good experience. Here's how it goes about the task - plus a look at some of the things it is working on.

iTWire recently talked to MYOB general manager of user design and experience Ben Ross at the company's Melbourne headquarters about the company's user experience process.

He said that MYOB's approach is experimental in the sense that feedback is obtained from customers at various stages. Ideas are initially represented by hand-drawn roughs, and user opinions sought.

Once it seems that the project is moving in the right direction, dummy versions of the designs are implemented on a computer for further rounds of user trials before a commitment is made to a particular design.

The move towards cloud products such as MYOB Essentials means the company can see which aspects of the system get the most use and therefore deserve to be prioritised.

The company can follow user behaviour quite deeply, Mr Ross said, and the knowledge gained has been applied to make life easier for customers. For example, workflows have been modified to reflect most bookkeepers preference for working exclusively with the keyboard as far as possible - the original assumption was that people would expect to use a mouse or trackpad to move from one field to the next.

MYOB's user experience strategy proved its value when the company launched Essentials as the successor to LiveAccounts - the net promoter score (NPS) went from 19 to 28 "overnight," he said. "People are loving the dashboard" and find the product a lot simpler to use in general.

But a lot of work went into the design, with many different combinations presented to users before the final form was adopted. Mr Ross also noted that the most recent product in a market usually has the best design, in part as its creators have had the most opportunity to learn from other software with great designs across various applications.

MYOB's goals include saving users as much time as possible, and reducing the amount of paper involved in business processes. "We learned that from bank feeds," said Mr Ross, referring to the way MYOB products can create accounting transactions from bank transactions delivered online.

So the company is now working on technology that will reliably extract information from PDF documents such as invoices.

Other projects include extending the mobile functionality available with AccountRight Live (eg, invoice creation) to the lower-end Essentials product. The challenge, he said, lies in putting an easy mobile interface on the power of the cloud.

MYOB will soon reveal its new chip-and-PIN card reader (the existing device that plugs into a iPhone or Android phone is for swipe-and-sign or chip-and-sign, both of which are being phased out in the coming months for most transactions) as well as a contactless payment option, but "the innovation will come in the app - that's where the magic is," said Mr Ross.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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