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QuickBooks 2014 Announced-Biggest Improvement is COLOR!

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QuickBooks 2014 was announced yesterday by Intuit to the ProAdvisor Community, so if you are a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor you should have received an email yesterday (mine arrived at around 2 p.m. EST).  If you are an active Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, you’ll be able to download QuickBooks 2014 beginning September 9th, on-line purchases are slated to begin around September 23rd, and you should see QuickBooks 2014 in retail stores starting right around mid-October.

In QuickBooks 2014 the most noticeable improvement that you see as soon as you launch it is COLOR!

When QuickBooks 2013 was released on of the most controversial topics of conversation when it came to the new version was COLOR – or rather the lack of it!

Many people, myself included, really had a hard time working in QuickBooks 2013 all day long with that really dark (and yes ugly) charcoal grey/black background color of the left navigation pane.  For many of us, myself included, we couldn’t work in QuickBooks 2013 for more than an hour without getting a raging headache.  Heck I still have a hard time working in the 2013 version – here we are almost a year since it was released (and nearly a year and a half since I started beta testing it last spring) and I need to be done after 2 to 2 1/2 hours!

When you launch QuickBooks 2014 – the new default color is a very nice dark blue (Intuit is calling it Harmony Blue) and I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been beta testing since right around the end of May and I’ve had none of the horrible headaches that I experienced with Quickbooks 2013!

Below is a screenshot of the QuickBooks home page using the new harmony blue in the top icon bar.

QuickBooks 2014 harmony blue

Right click to enlarge image

You can change the background color of the top icon bar to be lighter – if you’d like, by going to the Edit menu -> Preferences -> Desktop View -> select Switch to colored icons/light background on the Top Icon Bar.

2014 switch to light icons

Right click to enlarge

I even find the left icon bar/navigation pane, in QuickBooks 2014, to be easier to work with and have open.  Even when color was reintroduced  in QuickBooks 2013 with the R6 maintenance release and you could change the color of the “title bar” (where your company name appears) you still couldn’t get away from the dark grey background in many places – especially in the left icon bar.

2014 left icon bar harmony blue

Right click to enlargethe

In QuickBooks 2014, the blue theme flows throughout the program, below is a comparison of the Purchase Order window in 2013 and 2014.

QuickBooks 2014 visually easier

Right click to enlarge

You can still change the company color scheme (Edit menu -> Preferences -> Desktop View -> Change Company color scheme), but the  left icon bar/navigation pane will remain the new harmony blue.  And yes, I still miss the ability to change the ENTIRE color scheme, like you can in QuickBooks 2012 – but I can live and work in this version.

Change the company color scheme-QuickBooks 2014

Right click to enlarge

Ok, you must be thinking – “isn’t there anything new other than color?”  Yes, there are lots of new improvements/features in QuickBooks 2014 besides color and I will be writing about some of my favorite new features in the next few weeks! Here’s just a few of the things that I’ll be talking about over the next few weeks:

  • Redesigned Payroll Center – I really like it and I think you will to!
  • Bounced Check feature – and yes, it really seems to work correctly
  • A couple of new Job Costing Reports that are ONLY available in QuickBooks Enterprise
  • much more

But to me, color is the BIGGEST improvement that Intuit made in this version.  I seriously thought that my QuickBooks consulting days were going to be over in 2015 (when QuickBooks 2012 should “sunset” if history is accurate), mainly because I just couldn’t work in the 2013 version.  And frankly, that was very scary – QuickBooks has been a huge part of my life (on a daily basis) since it was first released in the early 1990’s and frankly I didn’t know what I was going to do “next”.

On another note, I read an article last week announcing that My Blind Spot, a not-for-profit dedicated to advancing personal independence and societal inclusion for the blind and visually impaired, is working with Intuit to ensure that QuickBooks is usable by those with conditions that impede them from reading text on-screen.  So we can expect more changes ahead.

What do you think of the color change?  I know it’s difficult to really tell, just from screenshots – but what is your first impression?

6 Responses to QuickBooks 2014 Announced-Biggest Improvement is COLOR!

  • Melanie
    I totally agree with you – about both the kitchen designer (I’m 5′ tall, my husband is 6′ – I’m forever dragging out the stool, as a matter of fact I jokingly call it “Little Nancy” – in order to get down the things that I seldom use from the top shelves of my cupboards) and your view on Intuit’s response to user complaints of “so what if you get headaches – the navigation is COOL”. I actually laughed out loud as I read this and was reminded of last year when I submitted the color issue as a bug – I was told that the program was “working as designed” – unfortunately I let a raging headache and my temper get the better of me and my response was “so you’ve intentionally designed this dam thing to give people headaches so they cannot work in it and they choose to go with another accounting software program!” Needless to say my response didn’t receive an answer and honestly I didn’t think it would – but I did feel better getting that off my chest!

    We all seem to be very focused on “comfort” and visual comfort is especially important if you need to spend up to 12 hours a day working in something – it’s like shoes (and I’ll digress here – do you suffer in the really cute 4″ high heels all day while standing on your feet or do you shy away from style in order for your feet to be comfy in something less cute).

    I’m going to be blunt here (and probably get myself in trouble as usual for it) but Intuit should have been aware just how important color and visual ease of use was last year – so many of the beta testers (myself included) were complaining about it…..and we were ignored. It wasn’t until it was released to the general public and the complaints were made public on the Intuit forums and several LinkedIn groups that anything was actually done about it.

    I really liked many of the new features and changes that were made in the 2013 version – but none of them were important enough that I was willing to deal with a headache after an hour or two of working in it.

    I’ve actually been called on the carpet for talking about color in my first article about 2014 – but for myself and I’m betting many other users as well – knowing that there was an improvement/change in color and, therefore, comfort – would be a deal maker instead of a deal breaker!

  • Hi Annie
    I’m with you – I’m thrilled the color issue is fixed – if you find yourself having to work in something for 8-12 hours a day, you absolutely have to be able to deal with the color(s) of that product.

    The reports that you mention are only available in Enterprise, unless my Premier Account 2014 version didn’t install correctly – after all I am working with a “release candidate” and not the real deal that will be available to ProAdvisors on Monday. So I’m waiting to get my hands on Enterprise as well to check out the WIP and Committed Costs reports as well. I did submit a “suggestion” that those reports also be included in at least the Premier Contractor version…..

    Unfortunately, the invoice fields don’t appear any bigger – or at least they didn’t seem that way on either of the 17″ laptops that I used for beta testing – even with QuickBooks in “full-screen mode”.

    Maybe we can compare notes/thoughts on the new reports later next week….

  • Keith I totally agree with you – I’m looking forward to working with QuickBooks 2014 with client/customers. I’ll have a short video early next week (Monday or Tuesday) that provides an overview of the new Payroll Center – I think the it will help people make sense of how the whole thing works.

  • My take on software designers is somewhat like kitchen designers. I’m 5’1″ and I swear kitchen designers are all men over 6′ tall! I mean, should women of normal height really need a stool to reach the second cabinet shelf? But I digress… Back to software. I think that those designers at Intuit were so excited about the new structure of 2013 that they really didn’t take into account how it felt to actually have to use the darned thing for 6 hours a day (typically what I spend). If those tall cabinets look cool and hold the dishes, so what if the cook has to haul out the step stool? (Another digression…my husband and I visited Fallingwater, the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright house, years ago. The house leaked like a sieve. Apparently many of Wright’s homes did. In response to complaints from owners, Wright apparently said, “Hey. So what if it leaks? You live in a FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT house!!!!” In a similar vein, Intuit’s response apparently was, “Hey, so what if you get headaches and can’t work in the software for more than an hour. The new navigation stuff is really COOL!!!”) The outpouring of complaints by users following the release of 2013 simply reflects this tunnel vision approach. We users care less about the perfection of the kitchen design, and more about comfortable it is to work in. It’s feeling like 2014 is more user-focused. Yes, the screen shots make it look friendlier and softer. Yes, I’m sorry you can’t change the entire color scheme. Do I care about the other features you listed…maybe. I’ll certainly check them out. But users want to be comfortable while working, and it would behoove software designers to maintain that as a top priority before a significant change is made to software. I was pleased that Intuit did respond to the 2013 shortcomings by giving us back some color. I’m sure they had no idea how important it is. When an accomplished user (and beta tester) like you spends 95% of an article on COLOR, that should tell them where their focus should be. Thanks for the look ahead, Nancy!

  • Thank you for the update Nancy. It is great to hear that Intuit fixed the color issue!

    I know I am going to see it on Monday, but I can’t wait to hear about a couple of other new reports. The WIP report and Committed Cost report! Do they work correctly or do we still need to export to Excel to get the correct figures? Does the WIP have previous periods!!!??? Are these in Premier and Enterprise?

    Also, did they make the invoice fields bigger so you can work in more than a few lines at a time? I teach my clients to use group items and it’s hard when you can’t see the whole group when you bring it into the invoice!

    Thanks for the preview, I can’t wait to see it!

    Annie

  • It is more uniform and easier on my eyes. Unlike 2013, I am going to be looking forward to helping set up my startup clients in Greater Seattle, reviewing what existing businesses have done and showing them how to convert from earlier versions, and training them one-on-one at their workplaces. One of the biggest complaints I have heard is how folks don’t understand how the payroll module works so this improvement will be welcomed.

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About Your Host:

Nancy Smyth, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Nancy Smyth, Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc.
QuickBooks Construction & Payroll Expert


I've been using and supporting QuickBooks products since the early 1990's. I've worked with thousands of contractors, assisting them with QuickBooks setup, Certified Payroll Reporting requirements, AIA Billing and Weighted-Average Overtime.


QuickBooks is a powerful product, but learning how to use it in your construction business can be difficult. I hope you find resources available here to be helpful.

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