Make it friendly

There are likely dozens of options for software. Whether you’re talking about online invoicing, CMSes or even Twitter post and tracking engines, dealing with software that treats you like a human being is a nice touch.

A little over a year ago, I switched from creating invoices in InDesign, exporting a PDF, printing a copy for my accountant and emailing the above PDF to the client; to Freshbooks. Not only is Freshbooks a Canadian company (a big plus in my books), but their software saves me literally hours of time per month. With the recent addition of time tracking ability, I’ve been able to stop using Basecamp (also a phenomenal product), and simply use Freshbooks and Apple iCal for most project planning and tracking needs.

But it’s not just the fantastic invoicing and time tracking software that cemented my love of Freshbooks. It’s when I noticed the hilarious and random messages that popped up when I submitted time tracking entries.

“You’re awesome”.

“Nice stuff”.


This makes it that much more enjoyable to use the software. These little easter eggs make you realize that there’s a human being on the other end of the code. This comes back to the idea of being authentic and genuine when you publish/code/design/create work online (or off).

Another piece of software that does a similar thing is Feedburner. On the home page, after you’re created an account and “burned a feed”, they add an occasionally snarky comment after the “My Feeds” header like”My Feeds are psyched for March Madness“. “My Feeds aren’t slaves to fashion“.

I don’t have to use Feedburner. But I do use it, because not only is it a great service that allows me to track my feeds, but it also keeps me interested and coming back to see what has been posted next to the h1 tag.

Freshbooks costs my company about $25 a month. Not exactly a pricy product, but it is another expense to add to the balance sheet and sometimes you question whether or not something is worth the money.

The features of the software are one thing. The subtle tweaks are completely different. They inspire us to use and enjoy our software experience. And that alone keeps me coming back and makes me want to stay with a particular vendor. Knowing that there is a human on the other end of the keyboard with a sense of humour makes me want to continue using the software.

All of us should strive to make our apps, our layouts, and even our project plans and proposals more human, more full of life and give them the touches that make people want to deal with us. It’s part of what makes working these long hours bearable and exciting.

Previously posted on

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