Quicken Product Activation & Management


Quicken’s financial management tool helps customers get a full view of their finances so they know where their money is going, can create financial goals, and can track investments from one convenient place.

In 2016, Quicken decided to change its business model and become a subscription service. To accomplish this transition teams across the company were tasked to research and build the systems required to support this service. This effort was a collaborative involvement across design, product development, marketing, and customer care to deliver an appropriate customer experience.

The goal was to complete building this new service within a year to be included in the 2017 release of Quicken. Design contributed to this goal by being responsible for 3 core customer experiences: retail product activation, quicken.com direct-purchase, and subscription management experience.


I was the lead designer in building the subscription service alongside the product development, marketing, and eStore teams. My contributions to this project included creation of the information architecture, user flows, paper sketches, prototypes, and user experiences which drove the team conversations to the delivery of our MVP release. I also contributed to writing UX Copy used in the product activation experience and retail activation card insert. Finally, I worked closely with the development and QA teams testing implementation of product experiences up to our MVP release.


Quicken has traditionally been sold as a licensed product to customers in the United States and Canada. While Quicken began separating from Intuit in 2015 and became a private business, the thought of transitioning to a SaaS subscription model was carefully explored. Possible benefits included focusing development on customer retention, reducing costs attributed to supporting older products, and commitment to customers having up-to-date software. The company considered this decision carefully and started by testing the subscription model concept with Canadian customers first, where we achieved very promising results.

After a year evaluating this possibility and collecting feedback, business leaders decided to transition the company to a subscription service, impacting all customers. Being new to this initiative, teams across the company began educating themselves and researching the inner workings of how a subscription service worked. This included learning what back-end systems, customer experiences, and marketing communications were needed to assist customers with this transition and to accomplish a successful product launch.

My contribution to accomplishing a successful product launch included delivering a new retail activation, direct-purchase, auto-renewal, and account management experience.


The team accomplished the year-long goal of establishing our new subscription service in time for the 2017 product release of Quicken. Our effort enabled customers purchasing the Quicken product from retail stores to activate their subscription online or in-product, with minimal effort required.

The Quicken.com checkout experience was also updated to support purchasing subscriptions directly in the United States and Canada. Lastly, we upgraded the My Account experience on Quicken.com, enabling all customers the ability to manage their subscription account details.


Scope & Constraints
The team was clear on the goals we wanted to complete in building our subscription service. Our research and work completed in Canada the past year was incredibly helpful in informing our approach. However, to accomplish our new goal of building a complete subscription service required flexibility throughout our journey, as we ongoingly adjusted our plans to negotiate various technical limitations and circumstances.

An excellent example of this arose during the development of the retail activation experience. We started designing this experience for the web first to minimize the scope and work required building it. During the design phase we shared the experience in a company product review, which kicked off a conversation about adding it in-product. We weighed the customer benefits from including this experience inside our windows and mac products against the extra development time required to complete tasks we didn’t plan for.

The result of that conversation was an executive decision that this was a must-do task to the benefit of our customers. Data later informed us of this being an effective decision, as we discerned that more customers passed through the in-product activation experience than they did through the web.

Another example of the expanded scope to this project occurred during our evaluation of the “My Account” experience. The past user experience contained customer purchase history with functions allowing them to change their account details. Now that we needed to include expanded account and subscription management functions, our focus shifted to begin redesigning the My Account experience.

Although that decision resulted in the design and development teams investing more effort, the outcome left customers with a much better experience being in control of their account and subscription details.

While feature creep was an ever constant challenge to our teams throughout this project, it was also something to be expected. The team was building a new service from scratch and was leaning on a learn as we go effort. We weighted our need to pivot carefully; if a solution revealed itself to be a better long term ROI it was worth investing the effort to include it.

This was the impact of having a maturing understanding of subscription services across the product experience as we were building it. The need to pivot showed up while designing the retail product activation experience, as well as the “My Account” experience. Although more time was spent refining these experiences, the teams’ commitment to providing an excellent experience at launch was worth every effort.

Another business challenge that Quicken faced was customer enrollment into auto-renewal. At the end of their subscription customers could enjoy uninterrupted service by having their credit card automatically charged at the same product tier they were currently using. During the product activation experience, we offered customers an additional month of service in exchange for providing their credit card and enrolling in auto-renew. However, what was being promoted as a customer benefit was not consistent to how customers were really feeling about this feature. Only one in five customers enrolled in auto-renewal. The challenge with new customers appeared to reflect an uncertainty in the value of the Quicken product, therefore they were not ready to share their payment info. While returning customers were more likely to share their payment info, most simply wanted control over when they would be charged.

We made an additional launch decision that impacted the release of some of the account management features. Some customer facing features in the My Account experience were not ready in time for the 2017 product launch, namely the ability to change the product tier and to cancel the subscription service.

To avoid removing those features altogether, we replaced the previous single action with a dialog window which requested customers to call our customer support line for assistance. The customer care team had the ability to assist customers with changing or cancelling their subscriptions. Fortunately, the customer’s ability to self-service their subscription was quickly added in the following release.

To become more familiar with how subscription services worked, we started performing a competitive analysis of popular services in both retail and online markets. Some of the popular services we researched were Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Office, Norton, McAfee, Dropbox, and Netflix.

We focused our efforts learning how these businesses presented their services, how product redemptions worked, how they promoted auto-renewal, and their account management details. We also looked into how they communicated their services with customers across retail, web, and email based channels.

Additionally, we performed market research looking into what customers were saying about existing subscription services. We were paying close attention to businesses having previous transitioned to subscription and what was the customer reaction to these changes. We wanted to learn how customers were reacting and what did these businesses do to resolve their concerns.

To better understand how businesses were addressing customer concerns to subscription, we interviewed some business leaders to these companies. They were generous about sharing their experiences, what would they have done differently, and general advice.

The results of our research helped us define 3 key customer experiences to focus on: retail product activation, the quicken.com buyer experience, and the account management experience. We first created the user flows to see if our mapping of these experience met our MVP goals and customer needs. We then sketched out individual screens to each experience to share between product managers and developers to discuss requirements to building these experiences. Our work informed the required development work and helped minimized customer actions necessary to activate a subscription.

For the “E-store” we sketched changes to the experience which supported purchasing a subscription and additional info we were legally required to include. We also sketched adding subscription management features to our existing my account page and discovered the layouts were not ideal to the customer experience. This was when we started to explore whether a redesign of the my account page would be needed to fulfill our customers goals.

Design – Activation Experience
After completing early reviews of the user flows and sketches, the team decided it was time to move forward with higher fidelity designs. Using Sketch, we leveraged past work from the creation of the Quicken.com site for the first round of web activation, in order to keep a consistent look and feel.

With the progress made thus far, we shared our progress with business leaders at the next weekly product review. In that review, we discussed the experience in detail and decided it was a must-do to include it inside our Windows and Mac products too. The design effort now expanded to having the product activation experience available on the web, as well as in the Windows and Mac products.

Learning that the Windows and Mac products would be pulling content from the web challenged us to minimize our UX copy. The risk with having too much content would have pushed the UI buttons driving the experience forward outside the windows / mac dialog windows height limits. Another challenge with using the Windows and Mac system fonts caused font sizes and text spacing to be different. After a few revisions and working with the marketing team we were successful delivering an experience using clear, unambiguous language for customers.

Another important consideration to the design of the activation experience was the activation card we included in our retail packaging. We referenced drafts of this card in our “enter activation code” screen, comparing the language used so that both assets complemented each other. That effort required working closely with the marketing team in the reviews of all instructional content, how we identified the activation code, and where customers should go for help. The result of comparing content in the activation card to what we designed in the online experience was successful with customers ability to activate their retail product subscriptions.

Design – Subscription Management
The next essential piece to this project was the subscription management experience. This experience was designed to allow customers the ability to change their subscription plan, enable / disable auto-renewal, view purchase history, and change their personal details. Early sketches to this experience revealed that the old “My Account” experience was inadequate in its support of the new features we wanted to add. Its function at that time was to display purchase history, download links, and changing the customers email.

Wanting to improve the user experience I began the process by researching account management of other subscription services such as Netflix, Norton, and McAffee. From that research I explored ideas for redesigning the experience and shared my direction with the team’s program manager and my VP of Product & Design. My direction was delightfully received and went right to work incorporating feedback and expanding the new experience to include required customer features.
As a result, we delivered a new My Account experience which allowed customers to manage their subscription and redeem offers by Quicken partners.

User Testing / Prototyping
We concentrated our user testing efforts on the product activation experience to ensure that what we were building was clear and effortless to our customers. There was a concern that some customers, being older and with limited understanding of computers, would have trouble with the tasks required to activate their new product. This was why we paid careful attention to keeping the number of tasks and screens to a minimum and the language short as possible.

We tested our prototypes of the product activation experience with usertesting.com. We investigated whether each screen was clear to participants, whether would they enroll in auto-renewal, and if they saw anything missing. What we learned was that the steps required to complete this experience was about right, and the language we used was clear to participants.

For the activation screen, our results were positive and found that including help language guiding participants to the registration card improved the user’s confidence in completing this step. We tested this screen again after removing as much UX copy as we could until we arrived upon the minimum copy needed to complete this screen.

With auto-renewal, Quicken’s success rates were low: our enrollment rate was 1 in every 5 customers. After researching this phenomenon, we found that most participants would opt-out from this feature for the same reason: unfamiliarity with Quicken. Customers familiar with Quicken were more likely to enroll, saying they liked the convenience of having uninterrupted service. For the remaining participants, the product was new for them and left them feeling uncomfortable sharing payment info until they evaluated it further. They also reported preferring to have more control when it was time to renew. We tried addressing their concerns by testing different versions and get an extra month offers inside this screen. Unfortunately, we had no success driving up the enrollment rate.

Although our results to the auto-renew screen were not ideal, we also felt it would not negatively impact the overall experience. Therefore, we decided to move forward with developing the experience we tested, and to continue testing new approaches to drive enrollment.


Less than a year after kickoff, the team completed the 1st version of the subscription service, in time for the 2017 product release of Quicken. We were proud of this accomplishment because of the dedication and effort required to transition the company this new business model. This effort also assured and delivered to customers a smooth first time experience with activating their Quicken product.

Lessons learned from this project highlighted the importance on having clear, focused UX copy to accomplish any task. This helps users to overcome any technical challenges customers may experience. Another lesson was the importance of having redundancy in your designs as a way to improve UX. That way, if one part of the experience fails, customers have another way to complete their desired tasks. One example of this was having activation be available on both the web and in product. This allowed us the opportunity to learn customer preferences as we continuously worked to optimize the experience.


Quicken, based on a decision to focus on customer retention and to reduce costs attributed to supporting older products, began transitioning to a subscription based SaaS model. This effort was made possible by contributions by design, product development, and marketing who all worked together to accomplish on this huge goal.

Teams worked across disciplines performing market research, interviewed business leaders for insights, learned customer concerns, and debated ideas rigorously to achieve a high bar. It was their tireless effort that accomplished Quicken’s 1st release of a subscription-based activation and account management experience for U.S. and Canada customers.