QuickBooks is an accounting software that allows accountants, bookkeepers, and business owners to manage sales and expenses and track daily transactions. I redesigned the home screen to be more efficient and user-focused.

My Role

I conducted user interviews, a competitive audit, low-fidelity wireframes, prototypes, and user testing. This was completed as a professional development project for my Viget apprenticeship.

Problem

Experienced users don’t see the value in the existing home screen because they tend to utilize the same set of features on a regular basis that is not present on this screen.

Results

A customizable dashboard that gives users the ability to add which features are relevant to them and what they want to have immediate access to.

QuickBooks final dashboard

Overview 

QuickBooks is an accounting software that allows accountants, bookkeepers, and business owners to manage sales and expenses and keep track of daily transactions. The software has a variety of options from local to cloud-based, beginner to advanced, and Windows to Mac. For the purpose of this project, I focused on the Windows local QuickBooks software known as QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2019.

Qualitative User Interviews

This software is highly domain-specific making it crucial to interview real users. I conducted a series of 45-minute user interviews to discover QuickBooks’ pain points. I recruited interviewees with a diverse background and experience level from new to experienced users to recent college graduates to CPA firm directors. Here were my key findings.

 

Users want to customize their settings.

“I’d like to be able to remove things off of the home that I don’t use. If I could just make it, you know, things that I use every day, things I’ll never use. There’s probably 20-25 little icons on the homepage, and I’d probably only use 5 of them.”

 

Users don’t use the existing home screen.

“I definitely think the flowchart is confusing because there are different arrows pointing at different directions from multiple places. If you look you can go from Enter a Bill to Create an Invoice, but you wouldn’t use Enter Bill to create an invoice like it suggests.”

 

Users say there’s a steep learning curve.

“I think the hardest part is learning how to use it. It doesn’t always make sense where you find things like there’s no flow, but I think it could be easier to learn and understand.”

Competitive Audit 

To get a better understanding of this software genre, I completed a competitive audit with some of QuickBooks’ competitors including Xero, Sage, FreshBooks, and ADP. Comparatively, the competitors were similar to what QuickBooks had to offer, but users who purchased QuickBooks preferred the vast features available to them in local software.

One of the major complaints with QuickBooks was its poor customer service. According to user feedback, forced updates relocate features without notifying users of its new location, which causes headaches to users when they’re forced to contact customer support.

Competitive audit for QuickBooks

Finding the Solution 

Focusing on experienced users, I referred to the user feedback to inform my solution. This audience stated they have more consolidated goals than expansive needs when it comes to QuickBooks. Users also stated they don’t use the existing home screen and want to customize their settings. With this knowledge, I decided to revise the home screen to a dashboard.

Image of first round of new user dashboard and shortcut screens

A Company Overview was not the answer. 

The first iteration consisted of charts and graphs to provide a quick company overview with a QuickLinks option to allow users to save some of their most-used features. During user testing, users stated that this dashboard wasn’t useful because they don’t have a need for a company overview; they stated they go into QuickBooks to complete specific tasks. They also preferred an interface where they could quickly identify features through the use of iconography.

Final Solution 

After a few more rounds of iterations and user testing, the final solution was a customizable dashboard that gives users the ability to quickly access what they consider to be their key features to increase their efficiency in the software. In addition to the new dashboard, the final solution also includes a new, modern UI design.

QuickBooks final dashboard

QuickBooks Introduction Dashboard modal

QuickBooks Dashboard Customization

QuickBooks final dashboard

QuickBooks Profit & Loss statement

A customizable dashboard improves the overall experience.

  • Experienced users can quickly access what they consider to be their key features.
  • New users can learn to use the software easier because they can put what they need on their dashboard without worrying about the more advanced features.
  • Customer support is improved because users don’t have to worry about automatic updates that move features around without explanation.

“I can have my QuickBooks the way I want it. I don’t have to keep it the way they set it up for me. Being able to choose which features and how many features would make it way more efficient for me.” ⁠—Carla, CPA

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