Accountancy Software

This one was so long ago the only screenshots I can find are the size of a postage stamp and the of, as the kids say, Potato Quality. I was designing and developing this one alongside some other developers.

Why look back at this from *cough cough* 2002? Firstly, it’s interesting to look back at how things were in the days of Flash and dial-up modems.

I can still remember some of the decision-making processes I went through here. The most critical one was to do with screen resolution. The product was going out via the web to an unsurveyed range of accountants on a variety of grades of computer. I made the call that the entire multimedia project should fit within a 640×480 window.

But then of course we ran up against the fact that the software we were trying to teach ran in a window of that size. Still, there weren’t many options at this time. It was pre the interactive wizardry of Camtasia etc, so I was capturing screen grabs into Word, exporting them out again as a folder of PNGs, then doing some kind of ninja tetris with Photoshop, to try and bring a full screen down to fit within the module’s navigation space and have room for explainy text and instructions.

Resizing screenshots sucks. Nobody should do it, it looks gross and fuzzy. In retrospect, I probably should have tried to recreate the entire interface in vector graphics within Flash. It still would have been very tight for space.

(It wasn’t the only project we did that involved this screenshot capture process, but the other one involved very complicated software with a very grey Windows 95 interface with about 60 buttons on it, and I prefer not to go back to that space!)

Aside from this it turned out ok. My colleague had used his own voice with a “chipmunks” filter on it for scratch audio for the little character, and we enjoyed it so much we kept it. The accountants found it annoying though. I’m still not a big fan of narration in elearning, unless it’s skippable/mutable. I wouldn’t use a silly voice again.

Finally, this was a project where my colleagues and I got to inject a small amount of humor into an otherwise dry module. Completing each section had the little guy below presenting you with a prize – a muffin, a giant cactus, a unicorn, etc. It is still my aim to fit some “surprise and delight” into my work when I can.

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