Toronto-based cloud invoicing software firm FreshBooks launched a complete overhaul of its platform on Tuesday, the firm announced.
Aimed at independent small business operators who need a convenient and professional way to manage client invoices and track project expenses, FreshBooks got its start as a business in 2003, when founder Mike McDerment, a web designer working out of his home, became so frustrated by managing Word documents for his invoicing system that he set out to design a better method.
The new update sticks to that ethos, and seems to make it easier for self-employed professionals to manage their accounts, according to FreshBooks. On the backend, the service can also deliver updates and new features more often than FreshBooks’ original design.
The big update was first teased by McDerment in February in an open letter. “This new FreshBooks is not just a visual redesign,” he wrote. “But a whole new product – one that helps you solve the same old problems, but in simpler and more modern ways. It behaves differently. It has new features. It’s been redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up so you can get new improvements than faster before.”
It was 18 months prior that the FreshBooks CEO tasked his team to build something that was 10 times easier to use than the current product, recalls Avrum Laurie, product design manager at FreshBooks.
“FreshBooks has always been known as the easy-to-use accounting and billing platform, but to tell you the truth it had grown organically over the last 10 years and had become kind of unwieldy,” he says. “For new users, learning to use it was kind of daunting.”
Previously, FreshBooks was a PHP-based server side app, explains Laurie. Now, it’s been recoded on the Ember platform, an open source toolset for coding web-based applications that run client-side. That makes the new FreshBooks feel less like a website and more like an app you’d launch on your tablet or smartphone.
Several of the new features listed by Freshbooks include:
- Reimagined Invoices: Creating a FreshBooks invoice is now simpler than typing in Word and packed with new benefits, including options for customization, due dates, and the ability to communicate with clients directly on an invoice.
- Project Management: When you are self-employed, you work with others – clients, contractors, and employees. From the time a project begins, self-employed professionals and their teams now have a single place to share files and communicate with clients.
- Manage Multiple Businesses: For self-employed professionals with more than one business, the new FreshBooks lets you easily add multiple businesses and easily switch between them.
- Redesigned Mobile Apps: The new FreshBooks also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android, so self-employed professionals can run their businesses anytime, anywhere.
Alongside the new platform, FreshBooks outlined more than a dozen partnerships, some of which are new and some of which are continued. The companies all represent third-party technology that integrates with FreshBooks in some way.
Many of the partners FreshBooks have been working with over the years are launching new versions of their integrations, Laurie says. For example, Google Apps now allows FreshBooks users to see their email that’s contextually relevant to work projects and invoices within the app.
That list includes:
- Google Apps for Work
- OneSaaS (which also includes Shopify via OneSaas)
- Acuity scheduling
- 123Contact Forms
- You Don’t Need A CRM
Existing FreshBooks users can either choose to move to the new platform, or remain with their “Classic” look. Exiting users will not see their billing arrangments change, Laurie says. For new customers, FreshBooks offers a free 30 day trial, and subscription plans begin at $15 per month.
So what does the new platform look like? Here’s some screenshots to give you a feel for it.
Track your time spent on client projects for accurate billing.
Use the projects dashboard to collaborate with team members.
Of course, you can use customizable templates to create professional invoices.
Track and file expenses related to your client projects.
Make sure a project is on track and your finances in check with an overview dashboard.