Changing How We See Software: QuickBooks 2013 interface frustrates power users

Changing How We See Software:

QuickBooks 2013 interface frustrates power users

You’re an accounting, bookkeeping or business professional and have been working with QuickBooks desktop software for years.  Your processes and methods for using QuickBooks to manage client accounting have been developed over time, and have been refined to the point where you are able to maximize your efforts and efficiently handle all your customer requirements.   Sure, there have been changes in the software over the years, and many of them have proven to be helpful.  But sometimes you have to wonder what they were thinking when they changed the interface for 2013.

Initially I thought it was the grumbling of a few people who simply resist change, some admittedly so.  But then the grumbling got louder, and started to come from folks I would expect to hear only “happy rainbows and sunshine” from when it comes to QuickBooks.  The new interface, they say, “sucks”.

So what’s the issue?  What did Intuit do with QuickBooks 2013 desktop editions that has inflamed so many devoted users?  One ProAdvisor puts it this way: “Basically no real enhancements at all, just the interface and relocation of options”.  In short, QuickBooks desktop editions now look a bit more like QuickBooks Online Edition, and “there’s extra stuff in the navigation – Intuit stuff“.

I understand Intuit’s motivations for making the desktop and online editions appearance more similar.  After all, the benefit of the QuickBooks product line is that you can start with an entry-level edition and move up the product line to more features and functionality without converting to and learning entirely new software.  Since the online edition of QuickBooks is positioned as the entry-level product for some businesses, it makes sense to continue that same look for the user as they upgrade to richer desktop editions.  Unfortunately for many accounting and bookkeeping professionals, this means giving up on some of the usability you’ve come to expect (like being able to fit all the necessary information on the screen, and having easy-to-read menus, or not seeing a lot of unusable space on the screen, or even being able to suppress Intuit in-product offers).

Many companies have successfully increased their revenue potential by adding offers for services via links in the software interface, which is much more acceptable now that people have adopted web technologies and are familiar with the “hyperlink” concept.  Building additional value (and revenue streams) in the solution makes sense from a business perspective, which is why you see so many software companies moving in this direction.  Software solutions and services can interconnect seamlessly and transparently via the web, so we should all expect to see software makers engage their customers in as many ways and with as many products and services as possible.  For Intuit, this means being positioned to take advantage of, initially, their partner network of interconnected solutions and, later, their own direct offerings in each area.

Software developers like Intuit DO listen to their users and market influencers, as they value your continued patronage.  They have come to learn, however, that devoted (or invested) users will accept change eventually – even more so when there is a chance to use the change to generate business opportunity.  QuickBooks accountants and trainers rely on change in order to keep their clients coming back for more.

The real target is the new user – the business not already adopted into the product – and it is primarily for this new user that the interface changes were made and in-product advertisements targeted to.

In the case of Intuit’s interface selection for QuickBooks 2013 desktop editions, it might seem like there’s “no enhancement, just the interface change”.  I would suggest, however, that the interface change IS the enhancement Intuit elected to deliver – enhancement of the acceptance of the online edition and connected services.

Make Sense?


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