Iterating until it’s just right and then again.

Xero TaxTouch project story

Harold Emsheimer
3 min readMar 8, 2016


Today marks the launch of Xero TaxTouch, a simple way for people to track expenses for their Schedule C filing. This project was a collaboration between Weightshift and our team at Overcommitted.

Launch days are a time for reflection, when we take into account all that went into shipping the work.

Small subset of card iterations


The card metaphore is a well worn path in UI design. It was decided early by the design team that we would leverage this pattern for TaxTouch. It would serve as a method to categorize transactions quickly and effortlessly. Picking just the right card design was important; we went through several approaches before settling on presenting one card at a time. We found that flicking a single card allowed users to stay focused and move quickly through their transactions. Logic was later added to track transaction patterns, allowing people to skip the categorization step all together.


Early on we decided that a single view would rule them all—the card stack. It would be ultra-focused; users could simply open the app and sort their transactions. Still, we had questions — where would people be able to find their transactions? How would they get an overview of their expenses? Our team was stubborn, we stuck to our guns… a single view had to be less complex than many views. To this end we built out compromises to support that opinion.

Then came a happy accident.

Halfway through the project, Naz and I started exploring tabs as a main way to navigate around the app. This was mainly to support a new feature, mileage tracking. Within moments of the first sketch, we realized that tabs would resolve many of our earlier compromises and would add so much clarity to the app.

Lesson learned (again); more views can simplify a single view product.

The many shades of Xero TaxTouch


Xero has a great color palette to work from. The visual direction for TaxTouch orginated with the classic Xero bright blue. It was fun and felt lightweight, in fact it was a bit too light. The more time we spent with it, the more we all realized that it was hard to make out some of the actions when in brighter conditions.

Another option we had was Xero’s darker blue. We quickly reworked the design to support it and had our solution in hand—at least that’s what we thought in the moment. Overtime we found that the dark blue needed to become even deeper, and those rather subtle action colors had to be brightened. Collectively, we made slight color changes up to the moment when we shipped the product.

It’s never finished

One of the things that I’ve learned to love is that the work is never quite finished. 20 years ago when working on brochureware sites launch days were pay days and move on days. Today, launching means putting it in the public’s hands, seeing how they use it, getting feedback and iterating once again.

I love launch days.

Read more about Xero TaxTouch—
Download Xero TaxTouch in the App Store
Xero TaxTouch product site
NYT: Tax Tips for Those Who Make Money in the Gig Economy
ZDNet: Xero launches mobile tax product for freelancers

Get in touch if you have a project you would like us to take a look at, we’d love to hear more about it.



Harold Emsheimer

Interface designer at Overcommitted — focused on creating exceptional iOS experiences people love to use. Appreciating the wonder of now.