Instant Usability – The FreshBooks Way

May 31, 2006

When you work hard it’s awfully nice to have that work recognized – especially by an expert in the field.

The design of the FreshBooks application is a story of continuous improvement.  Every release (and the next one is due out very soon) includes improvements that make FreshBooks easier to use.  Why does easy matter?  Because it ensures a positive user experience which makes people (it’s all about people after all) want to tell other people about your service. Positive experience inspires other designers and it leads to more paying upgrades (i.e. it affects your bottom line).

About three weeks ago I received a call from Jack Bellis of Usability Institute.  Jack found FreshBooks through, which is an online resource for web designers, and he tried the service.  As someone who literally wrote the book on usability in 1997 (scroll down to “Computers Stink”), Jack appreciates good design when he sees it.  What he liked about FreshBooks was the emphasis we have placed on “instant usability”.

While the phrase is new to me, the concept is not.  We try to design every aspect of FreshBooks to ensure you are taught how to use the service AS you use the service.  The effort we invest in instant usability reduces support calls and increases the number of people who choose FreshBooks as their online billing solution.

Jack’s report is a great read for anyone who has a website.  Jack painstaking chronicles 28 things that FreshBooks does right to deliver a great usabiliity experience.  Honestly, you can learn a lot from the time Jack has taken to dissect the FreshBooks application.  I was amazed at the time he invested in preparing this document – it’s inescapable.  Jack did all of this of his own accord – we had no involvement or influence over it.  The fact that Jack even bothered is a strong indication that we are on the right track at FreshBooks, and I can tell you we are just getting started – so please stick around.

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.