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.

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4 thoughts on “Coldplay and QuickBooks

  1. Shannon I disagree re Msoft in some cases. When they went to new versions of Excel and Word they jumped to new user interface with no thought of user interaction difference. The problem is when you need to do productive work the first thing you must do is learn a whole new interface.

    I’m still PO’d about it!!!

    ref: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.

    Reply
  2. John, yes that interface change was pretty significant, wasn’t it. It was implemented in PowerPoint too. Did you find yourself in a place where you had to get work out but were hampered by the interface differences in the new version? I can see how that would be frustrating.

    Reply
  3. I too would love to see a classic QuickBooks. One designed for professional bookkeepers in mind. I find that the newer versions are made so that anyone who “thinks” they are a bookkeeper can attempt to do their own books. This I think is a disservice to the business owner and a huge drawback for professional bookkeepers like myself. I would like to see software developers talk to actual bookkeepers accountants about the things they would like to see in the software.

    And as to the comments about Microsoft office. I have a dart board with a picture of Billy Gates on it. !

    Reply

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