Whats Up With Freshbooks? Not As Good As Everyone Says it Is. UI Needs Some Love.

You know, I’m getting tired of trying out a service that is supposed to be “all that” only to find out it is severely lacking.

Freshbooks is one of those. I promise I’m not being paid by anyone to write this article. I’m just being honest.

I found Freshbooks after three different searches led me there. One search was for time tracking, another for freelance billing, and another for invoicing. I read articles, I compared top results, I read reviews. Freshbooks was always one of the top three of each list.

So after some digging through their homepage, I found the free account (not the free trial, the free account) and signed up for a test drive.

I was not too impressed with the UI from the get go, but I looked past that and tried to figure it out. Ultimately, its not very friendly or intuitive to use. Let me give you an example from their time tracking feature:

When you start tracking time, you see this screen:

1

It lets you track time by project and task. You’ll notice there is no task, so you click on the box to add a task and see these options:

2

Since you have no tasks to begin with, you select “[add task]”, and area given this lovely “Are you sure you want to do this?” box:

3

Wait, what? I’ve got to leave the time tracking area to add a task? Seems dumb. Will my time continue to run, I wonder? Oh well, i guess I have no other choice. So you select “OK”, which takes you to this screen:

4

Wait a minute…I thought you said I had no tasks? So what are those three tasks I see? So you brought be here because I had no tasks, and yet here some are? And how many steps/clicks did that take? Way too many. What a pain. To think I will have to do that for every task makes me not want to track time here at all.

And that isn’t the only feature that was like that. Many others were simply not intuitive.

So I passed on Freshbooks. Some people may love it. It seems like it has some great features. But if its not easy to use, I’m not going to use it. Sometimes I wish I could just tell these companies a few tips on what they could do to improve…I’m not the best designer or UI guy in the world, but I do have a pretty good sense of what works and what doesn’t, and this, my Freshbooks friend, does not.

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

  1. Hi Brady,

    I’m Casey, the Head of Product at FreshBooks. My team is responsible for all of the user-experience within our applications. In this case, your wish has come true, and our whole team has read this blog post and are now discussing it here. We genuinely care about how people experience our products, and listen to everyone willing to give us feedback.

    I agree that both the “New Project” and “New Task” experience need significant improvement on our web application. If you have an iPhone and are willing to give our iOS app a shot, you will see many of your concerns about task creation have been addressed in that product. With our iOS project, we had the opportunity to completely re-think how time tracking could be improved while still remaining simple. Give it a shot, and I’d love to hear your feedback on that experience and if you think it was improved. We are now constantly thinking about how we can take the improvements we’ve pioneered in our iOS app and move them over to our main web application. It turns out, the constraints of an iOS Device actually forced us to approach problems differently, and as a result, we’ve heard good things from our customers. We even won an Interaction Design Association award for our iOS app, for streamlining everyday tasks like time tracking.

    I know all that talk doesn’t solve the problem with our web application today, but I hope that it shed’s some light into how we’re trying to continuously improve what we do, while exploring new platforms and adding more functionality (such as Automatic Expense Import from your Bank Account) at the same time.

    I’d be happy to talk more via email, or openly on this blog if there’s anything else you’d like to talk about.

    Kind Regards from Toronto,
    Casey
    Head of Product @ FreshBooks

    1. Hi Casey,

      Nice of you to drop by and read this post. Its great to hear that there are teams like yours who search for feedback and have the humility not only to consider it, but also to respond.

      I’d be willing to give the iOS app a shot. I’ve downloaded it and will take some time to use it in my day to day work. I’ll reply again when I’ve used it for a bit.

      All the best,
      Brady

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *