PyAccountant: Redesigning Programming Education for Accountants

A Python coding tutorial specialized for accountants.

Ty Feng
Ty Feng
Aug 9, 2018 · 5 min read
PyAccountant Project Image
PyAccountant Concept Video

Accounting is about the results, not the process, yet too often tedious tasks like data entry can hinder the speed and accuracy of accountants. The need for programming is there. Yet when programming knowledge is actively pursued, the delight of exploring is often overwhelmed by a sea of arcane prose written by the pros, leaving accountants and people without prior programming knowledge a high barrier to start coding.

PyAccountant provides an opportunity for accountants to try coding for the first time, and it lowers the barrier to exploration in the world of code. PyAccountant rekindles playfulness, inspires curiosity, and engages with users through vivid stories and analogies, to invite users to try coding and automating tedious tasks like data entry.

Project Background

Motivation

Brainstorming

Persona

A middle-aged tax accountant who lives in the Bay Area. He currently spends most of his day inputting data for customers into TurboTax (especially during tax season). He does not see many opportunities for advancement, but thinks that, with proper programming skills (to automate tasks), he could spend much less time on simply inputting data and spend that time on personal and professional development (networking, conferences, meeting with friends). He doesn’t know where to start. The last time that he looked at programming, he just saw something about… “Foobars?” It seemed pretty impractical.

Peer critique

Refined Wireframe

Refined low-fidelity wireframe

The wireframe that we initially used for our cognitive walkthroughs with users. Ultimately decided to merge the first and third columns for a cleaner interface, and to blend feedback and story into a single element.

Project Logo

PyAccountant logo

Implemented using Adobe Illustrator. The logo is in monospace to emphasize the coding aspect, while the horns indicate the demonic theme.

Medium Fidelity Mockup

Our team’s mockup of the website, implemented using Adobe XD.

Try interacting with our Adobe XD mockup:

Implementation

Only the implementation remained. While our group was on track to complete the project, there were several issues with CodeAnywhere. Based on instructor feedback, our group ultimately decided to use the Cloud 9 interface for coding our project.

PyAccountant Walkthrough Video
Screenshots of PyAccountant

Try our high-fidelity, fully-functional prototype here:

Description of application

Our chapter outline was intended to be similar to a journey that took “Steve,” our accountant character, from a junior accountant position to a senior accountant position.

Each of our chapters consisted of an introduction paragraph, pictures for the story on the left-hand column. The right-hand column was reserved for instructions for input, hints, and buttons to “run” code (via string matching), toggling hints on and off, and going back to the previous chapter.

The top bar (also implemented through Bootstrap) allows users to either go back to the outline page or to go to the next chapter.


To learn more, go to project website: pyaccountant.tyfeng.com

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