Tax time trailblazers, how mobile simplifies UX.

Taxes Last night I did my taxes.

Sounds like the start of a Morrissey song. Actually though, it was a cool experience –all I needed was the browser on my phone. And it took about a half hour.

Here’s why I’m jazzed about this. A couple years ago we designed and developed a first-in-class responsive student loan application flow. It was a complex (but very rewarding) project. The day it launched, I was showing it off to a friend and without blinking he said, “why on earth would anyone want to use a browser on their phone to apply for a student loan?” There was a significant degree of truth to that thought process at the time we launched. But my response to why the brand chose to go that route is quite simply because of that perception.

Back to my taxes…

Last night with a block of time on my hands, I decided to get started. I did all the usual steps one does to prepare your taxes. Gathered all my paperwork, sat down at my desk, took several deep breaths, a shot of vodka, and said a Hail Mary.

I’m going in.

I pulled up the site I used for my taxes last year and read through the homepage. I noticed right away they were showing experiential screenshots on a tablet – effectively, they were going for broke on pushing a mobile experience. I’ll admit though, even as someone who is excited about mobile experiences, I gave the landing page for the tax site a bit of the side eye when I first looked at their mobile claims. No software needed, no app to download, nothing to print, snap your W-2s on your phone.

So I decided to put their claims to the test – it was going to be all from the browser on my phone or nothing. I shut down my laptop, pushed away from my desk, grabbed my paperwork, did another shot of vodka, and headed to the couch. A little more than a half hour later, my taxes were done AND filed. As digital platforms go, it was a fantastic experience. I never even saw a tax form.

And this just reinforces a key thing we’ve learned after working on dozens of digital projects over the years: Brands that properly invest in mobile-first thinking only succeed when they make the mobile experience easier than the desktop experience. It’s not enough to just be where your customers want to engage with your brand – it’s got to be easier too. Otherwise, what’s the point?

For example, if I’m entering W-2 information on my desktop – it’s not necessarily a cumbersome experience… But how cool is it that the mobile experience uses the built-in camera to snap a picture of the W-2, text recognition to extract data from that image and then pop the data directly into the form so all a user has to do is verify? In fact, as a previous customer, there was very little information that I needed to input directly beyond a few numbers and putting my credit card in at the end.

Where would you rather have your brand? Innovating the way you engage your customers? Or catching up with the trailblazer that did it first?

To that end, the client we built the student loan application flow for is now able to promote that customers can “Apply in 3 minutes and get an instant credit decision.” Was that your perception of the student loan process? It’s a cool time to be in Wilmington surrounded by so many forward-thinking financial brands so heavily involved with rapidly evolving the digital landscape.

Give us a call – let’s blaze some trails together!