New Interface

Don Morris's Avatar

Don Morris

18 Aug, 2009 09:54 PM

I admit, I'm an interface snob. I judge many a program by its cover. And so looking at Moneydance I get this queasy feeling when I consider using it day in and day out.

I really shouldn't feel like this. Moneydance imports QIF files without a hitch, which only a handful of apps do. It has more reporting options than the other 30+ personal finance apps I'm testing. It even allows me to use transfers in budgets!

So, please, tell me you've hired a designer to put a new face on this app!

  1. 1 Posted by John Selden on 19 Aug, 2009 03:29 AM

    John Selden's Avatar

    Personally, I love the interface. It is clean, utilitarian, ad-free, and absolutely gives me all the information I need at a glance. I will admit that it took some time to grow on me (having switched from Quicken), but now I'm a total fan. I especially like the calendar (with the indication of upcoming bills); the interactive, clickable list of upcoming scheduled transactions; and the list of memorized reports. Make sure you customize the home screen in the Preferences.

  2. 2 Posted by Brian Adler on 19 Aug, 2009 10:08 AM

    Brian Adler's Avatar

    Don,

    I appreciate the sentiment of your inquiry to some extent. Moneydance does look less fancy than Quicken or MSM for example (although many would say less cluttered/bloated as well). But functionality is where our focus is at the moment. Our aim is more to be the most useful for the least amount of money (and without future mandatory upgrades) rather than being the most flashily appealing.

    Honestly, we probably will not do a cosmetic overhaul of Moneydance for some time (until we run out of ideas for functional improvements to the software). Plus it is my general sense that John's sentiments are common for longer term users.

    Having said that, if you have specific suggestions (or even general ones), please let us know what they are and we will consider them (but I can't make any promises).

  3. 3 Posted by Don Morris on 19 Aug, 2009 04:27 PM

    Don Morris's Avatar

    I appreciate the two gracious responses, and particularly the idea of working on function over flash. I love the look of many of these apps, but it seems the developers have worked on the front-end features to the exclusion of many back-end features that I -- and presumably many users -- have come to expect. I just wish there were some middle ground.

    A general suggestion would be to use a UI similar to that of Mail, iTunes, or even the Finder: sidebar, tool bar, content area(s). The idea is to make the application one that is familiar to the user because s/he uses others like it. Adoption of Moneydance could be greater if it were easier to use as a result of familiarity. (Long-term users like John aside, if you want to grow your base you will need to appeal to those who have never used your software before.)

    Some specifics in that regard:

    • You're using a text button for the Action menu. Since OS 10.4, users are familiar with an Action menu, although it's usually a button with a gear icon. It also is generally used to access commands to act on items in a list -- for example, accounts in a sidebar. Instead, you've got at least two commands that are more general in nature and which really ought to be under the File menu. Every Mac user since 1984 has expected to see Print commands under the File menu.

    • I'd get rid of the Accounts menu. You already have those functions under the Tools > Edit Accounts menu. Instead, assuming you're using a sidebar, add buttons under the sidebar for New Account and Actions (which would have items like Edit, Delete, and Reconcile).

    • Similarly, use buttons under the transactions list (register) for New Transaction, Delete, etc.

    • Instead of an Online menu/button, move those commands to the menu bar.

    • Move the Budget viewer to a section at the bottom of the sidebar, with a (I don't know the term for this) disclosure button that hides/shows the viewer. See iTunes' cover art viewer for an example.

    • Move the search field to the top right of the toolbar and use the rest of the toolbar for buttons. Allow the user to customize the toolbar (large icons, small icons, text only, no text) and even hide it using the standard widget in the upper right corner of the window.

    Pardon the comparison, but Liquid Ledger, while it has a plain interface, makes good use of these elements. (It, alas, suffers from its own shortcomings, not the least of which is a moderated support forum whose moderator is MIA.)

    Hope this helps!

  4. 4 Posted by Brian Adler on 19 Aug, 2009 07:26 PM

    Brian Adler's Avatar

    Don,

    As it happens, I had a discussion with our developer this morning. We are implementing many interface changes in the upcoming Moneydance 2010, many are consistent with your suggestions. I think you will be pleased with this next version.

    Best,

    Brian

  5. Brian Adler closed this discussion on 19 Aug, 2009 07:26 PM.

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