Intuit: TurboTax Business
Company: Intuit is a leading provider of financial management, tax, and online banking solutions.
Solution: TurboTax Business helps small to medium sized businesses (LLC, LLP, S-Corp, and C-Corp) file annual taxes.
Timeline: Oct 2006 - Sept 2007
With TurboTax Business, you don’t need to know a thing about business taxes. Its customized interview tailors itself to your type of business (corporation, partnership, or multi-member LLC) and provides extra guidance to simplify tax preparation and help you maximize tax savings. Just answer simple questions and let TurboTax do the rest.
TurboTax Business is a simple solution for DIY business owners to file taxes. However, form selection and expense categorization are complex areas that typically confused users and sapped confidence in the product.
- Heuristic analysis
- SSNiF identification. This process was developed by Philip Haine to help focus designs by forcing every feature to be explained with a stakeholder and situation that informs the need (Stakeholder, Situation, Need, Feature). Ultimately, the needs become the primary focus of the design.
- Low-fidelity mockups
- Visual design
- Usability testing
Example Problem: Convoluted selections and jargon confused users
The TurboTax Business product is built on one of Intuit’s professional products. It is a fairly complete solution, but still contains quite a bit of content originally written for accountants. Critical areas of concern for this release included the form selection and expense allocation processes.
Example Solution: Refine workflows and simplify diction
The form selection process was reduced from three separate steps to a single screen. The team and I improved the layout and reduced confusion between the different options, especially rare edge cases. Usability studies and A/B tests indicated users not only found the correct form faster, but were much more confident in their selection and the rest of the product.
The single biggest problem small business owners have when filing taxes, assuming their books are accurate, is correctly assigning business expenses. To improve this process, the team and I designed a novel way of customizing examples in each expense section. This better represents the type of expenses likely relevant to the user. For instance, if the user indicates his/her business is a manufacturing plant, expenses commonly associated with manufacturing are displayed in the respective expense sections and leave off unrelated expense examples (e.g., farming). Usability studies supported our hypothesis and demonstrated substantially higher confidence in decisions around expenses.
- Simplified expense reconciliation
- Reduced form selection from 3 step process to a single screen
- Increased confidence in expense and form selection processes
- Improved year over year retention of users
When updates were released in TurboTax Business 2007 and 2008, there was a marked decrease in support calls. I only played a small part in this large, established product. However, some of the workflows I designed appear to be in use 6-years later, which I consider a success.