Boris is a product designer and researcher working the San Francisco Bay Area

Tax Break Redesign: Standard VS Itemized

research / strategy / interaction design


The Problem 

Tax season is a crucial time for TurboTax product to generate revenue. Last year analytics reported that an average of 3 million TurboTax customers were not able to get past the “Tax Breaks” section of the TurboTax product. This drop off resulted in a significant loss of revenue and lower retention rates for our customers year to year.

My Role

I was the dedicated researcher on a team of interaction and visual designers tasked with understanding the drop-off and designing a transformative solution to turn this touchpoint into delightful ownable moment. I helped with defining design strategy and with some of the interaction design for this project. 

Customer Insight

To understand why the drop off was occurring I planned and conducted contextual interviews and usability studies that helped uncover a major insight. 

The current Tax Breaks flow allowed for user error by not directing standard deduction filers away from the itemized tax breaks flow. 

TurboTax users only want to work on what they feel is relevant to them -- Lack of clarity on whether itemized tax breaks are relevant leads to loss of trust in accuracy and an over abundance of options. 




I found that asking our users to answer a few short questions regarding their years expenses before delving into tax breaks accomplished two things really well for the user. 

  • The questionnaire and its result illustrated the difference between standard vs. itemized deductions.
  • The questionnaire imparted that TurboTax worked to understand the user on a 1:1 basis, making them feel comfortable with skipping irrelevant parts of the product. 

The customer insight we uncovered allowed me strategize and draft requirements to guide the interaction design. Our tasks were:

  1. Introduce itemized tax breaks to users unfamiliar with the tax code without causing a panic. 

  2. Indicate whether itemized tax breaks are relevant to the respective user.

  3. Convince users that they wouldn't lose out on any extra money or make a mistake by skipping the itemized tax break flow; Trust Turbotax.

Once I'd laid out the strategy for the design we were ready to begin actually designing. I started of the design rounds with an interaction designer.  I would create preliminary sketches of the flow and after some evaluation either one of us would take it into illustrator to create a medium fidelity mockup for prototyping purposes.  After a few rounds of iteration and testing we landed on the following flow, which was developed fully into high fidelity by a visual designer.  


The design was a success and performed well across the metrics we chose to measure ourselves against. Overall we:

  • Raised conversion by 5X for Tax Breaks
  • Decreased Help Rate for “Am I Itemized” by 77%

  • Saved customers ~30-90 minutes to prep taxes