We currently provide iterative design and user testing services to the IRS “Account” product. The IRS “Account” product is the site for taxpayers to manage their tax balances owed to the IRS. It includes the ability for taxpayers to view their balances owed, request tax records, review recent payments, and continue to sites where they can pay their balances. Our role is to provide iterative design and research services to the agile teams working on the product.

Our Approach

Our approach is to support multiple agile teams by conducting design and user research activities on the backlog of user stories. Working in 8-week program increments broken into 4 2-week iterations, we use a combination of Sketch and InVision to create design prototypes of the Account product to be user tested in our lab. We iterate the designs based on taxpayer feedback, then provide the design assets to the development teams for implementation.

Project Results Included

The human centered design process yielded one very tangible result in particular. An issue was uncovered with one of the buttons intended to take users to the ability to pay their balances over time. In addition to seeing the issue in focus groups and usability test results, we worked with the broader project team including the product management and site analytics teams to determine the exact issue: a button label didn’t resonate with taxpayers. Using plain language best practices, the button label was changed to better resonate with taxpayers and re-tested. Upon deployment, the continuation rate of the payment button instantly increased by over 100%.  A simple fix, but one that may have gone un-detected had it not been for an integrated human centered design approach.

The Client

The IRS mission is to provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all. The IRS is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury and one of the world’s most efficient tax administrators. In fiscal year 2015, the IRS collected almost $3.3 trillion in revenue and processed almost 240 million tax returns.