What if business software makers took the same care and attention to the user experience that Apple does?
Intuit offers a glimpse at the polished interfaces and the hyper-efficient workflows that the future holds for small business software users with today's launch of QuickBooks 2013. And according to Pamela Bailey, experience design leader for QuickBooks, the makeover is more than pixel deep.
Bailey stresses that her team's efforts on modernizing the QuickBooks user interface are "not design for the sake of design." Instead, QuickBooks 2013 is "designed for efficiency," says Bailey.
For example, select information now renders in bigger, bolder fonts that bring important tasks and data to the forefront. New context-sensitive ribbons help you speed through related steps and exposes shortcuts and functionality that would have normally been buried under heavily populated drop-down menus.
Focused on Small Business Productivity
While she and her team aimed for a consistent, unified interface -- and downright eye-pleasing visuals -- one goal drove their efforts: increased productivity.
Based on early tests, Bailey reports that small business users can expect to get more done, faster, while remaining apprised of their business' financial picture every step of the way with clear, at-a-glance reporting features. "Two thirds of them indicated that the 2013 version would make them more efficient in their business," reports Bailey.
Under QuickBooks 2013, invoicing, billing and dozens of other small business accounting functions should come like second nature to users both old and new. That is, if they ever spent any time on Facebook or today's popular cloud and mobile apps. In updating the software, Intuit sought to "use a pattern that a small business owner will instinctively know how to interact with," says Bailey.
Therefore, a new, customizable left-hand navigation area provides quick and consistent access to QuickBook's many accounting modules. But unlike Facebook where "their goal is all about keeping their users in their website and their mobile product as long as possible," Intuit designed QuickBooks 2013 to let you complete your accounting tasks quickly and in the least amount of time so that you can get back to doing what you do best, says Bailey -- run your businesses.
Although the new interface "reduces the learning curve of moving throughout the application," states Bailey, plenty of work took place under the hood to keep pace with the growing technology needs of small businesses.
QuickBooks 2013 can handle double the amount of metadata than its predecessors, says Intuit, which increases the amount and type of information the application can accommodate. Updated "Centers" provide consolidated views of customer and vendor information, eliminating the hunting and pecking typically associated with retrieving information related to an account. With more fields for emails, phone numbers and even social media identities, small business owners no longer have to get creative with variable fields.
Enhanced reporting options lets you generate reports using fewer clicks. The software also features "tighter integration with the Intuit app center," says Bailey, providing improved access and extensibility to industry-specific add-ons for small businesses that serve niche markets.
Despite the new user-friendlier package, power users needn't fret, assures Bailey. All the keyboard shortcuts and features that veteran Quickbooks customers have come to rely upon are still there. You can set up the new interface to approximate prior versions -- with a little added polish, of course -- in just a few clicks.
In short, this update leaves no one behind for the sake of progress. Power users can still "use QuickBooks blindfolded," says Bailey.
QuickBooks 2013 is available now. Prices start at $249.95 for QuickBooks Pro and $399.95 for industry-specific QuickBooks Premier editions.
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