Friday, November 18, 2011

Quickbooks and Coldplay

First of all, I did not write this post, I enjoyed reading it, wanted to share it with soI  posted it to my blog to give the author some credit. To contact this author click on the link at the end of the article . Anyhow his/her article begins as follows:

I heard an interview on XM Radio this week with Chris Martin and his cohorts in Coldplay.
Chris was talking about the challenge of creating really great music. He told the interviewer that his songwriting was influenced by the Beatles, Bob Marley, Nirvana. Their music, he said, was quite simple to play on the guitar — a 12 year old could play it — and yet was so well crafted.
Martin said, “Songs like that are easy to play, and impossible to write.”

That brought to mind something I heard once at a songwriting workshop: “Well-written songs are easy to learn and hard to forget.” Right on.
Now, to QuickBooks.

Good software should be, I think, like good songs. Easy to learn. Easy to play. Hard to forget. And almost impossible to create.

“Impossible to create” is a bit of an exaggeration, obviously. But it is hard to create a system that is intuitive to use, has a low learning curve, and sticks with you from one use to the next. That was Steve Jobs’ genius with the Mac, right?

I dabble in Pro Tools record studio software and also in PhotoShop. I find both of them hard to learn and easy to forget. CTRL/SHIFT/+ to toggle up the mixing console view??? What the heck.
I personally have found Microsoft Office products to be easy to learn and hard to forget. Maybe that’s just because I’ve been using them since way back in the last century. But there is a consistency and predictability to the user interface and controls that makes them pretty easy.

QuickBooks? Well, I think it’s in the middle there somewhere. It’s somewhat easy to learn if you have a bookkeeping/accounting background, and it is not chock-full of obscure ways to doing things. (Do you agree? Please comment below.)

Easy-to-use apps don’t come easy. The easier it is for the user, the harder it is for the designers and coders. The easiest thing for a development team is to just turn a bunch of programmers loose on the specs to make something happen asap. Judging from the end results, I don’t think Intuit usually does that.
Still, I’d like to see a version of QuickBooks appear sometime that is, I don’t know, a “classic” version, with far fewer features and options…just straight up general accounting for G/L, A/R, A/P, simplified Job Costing, and after the fact payroll. A system where you could put in a batch of cash-oriented transactions on one screen in one step, that would update the G/L, checking accounts, and customer/vendor/employee subaccounts all at one time.

Easy to learn; impossible to create? Maybe. Like a great Beatles song.