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Pixels & Personalization: Designing for Small Business

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Every user flow, font size, and color palette in our products – from the onboarding process, to the little animations that make a user’s experience feel personalized and familiar – is crafted with specific intention.

It’s the little details that make up the Intuit product experience; our design and research teams carefully tailor each and every webpage, product feature, and piece of text to our community of small business owners and self-employed pros, regardless of their financial literacy level. We make using Intuit’s arsenal of products as easy, quick, and intuitive as possible to use, so you have the freedom to focus on the bigger things that matter.

We caught up with Kylie Tuosto, a design manager at Intuit focusing on personalization and first use in the QuickBooks ecosystem, to learn how her team builds and designs products with small businesses and self-employed users in mind.


Intuit: Tell us a little bit about your role, and what your team does at Intuit!

Kylie: I am a Group Design Manager at Intuit, on the QuickBooks team. We focus specifically on the first impressions – from advertising, to our marketing site and personalized product experiences. It’s a super exciting space because it’s part growth-hacking – getting users through the funnel – and part humanizing financial data management. Design in Intuit’s products can make or break the relationship with a customer during their first exposure to our brand. The onboarding experience is so crucial to building trust and helping the user – no matter how familiar they are with financial products – feel confident in their own abilities to achieve financial success.

Intuit: When designing a product’s user experience, what are the main factors that go into the planning and testing process?

Kylie: Everything we do starts with the customer. We have extensive user research and testing processes in place, and we start with observing users’ pain points and problems. Our team brings that insight to then figure out a strategy, approach, and prototyping plan.

QuickBooks, for example, was originally designed as a one-size-fits-all experience. But today, there are so many niche communities and needs, that it’s impossible to design a single workflow and product experience for everyone. We need to tailor each experience – solutions for retail florists are going to be different than solutions for freelancers or designers. The question we keep front of mind when designing for various communities is: how do we better the onboarding experience so that it feels like it’s specifically designed just for you, in your language, solving your needs?

Are you the type of person to watch a tutorial video, or do you like to poke around the dashboards yourself? Are you looking to accomplish a specific task, or trying to get an overview of the benefits? We’re obsessed with running experiments to answer these types of questions, so that we can surprise and delight customers with personalized experiences.

Intuit: What research or insights have you gathered from customers about Intuit products’ interface?

One example is, we found a huge user drop-off point during onboarding in QuickBooks on the pricing and product lineup pages. This makes sense; some folks just starting out don’t know everything they need to run a business, so everything looks foreign, and we’re asking you to make a choice right here and now. A lot of people leave the onboarding journey at that point.

In user testing, however, we found that once we narrowed the options by audience segment, users actually wanted more choices. This was a bit of a surprise, given that our leading hypothesis was the overwhelming amount of choice. Despite customer feedback, though, the team is going to test this hypothesis to see if behavior matches what people say, and learn if unfolding more choices over time actually improve the user’s experience.

Intuit: What about Intuit’s suite of products stands out to small businesses and self-employed professionals?

Kylie: Trust. Intuit’s been around for so long, and our products are known institutions in our industry. We’re lucky that we get to start from an inherent place of trust. And it’s my team’s job, as the heart and soul of our first impression, to ensure that we build on top of that trust by delighting them with magical moments throughout the product experiences.

In terms of how we plan our design choices for small businesses and self-employed folks, we’ve definitely shifted toward a more consumer-oriented design from our initial enterprise focus (specifically for QuickBooks). For example, we think about the absolute minimum number of things needed on-screen to convey a message. We aim to make messaging obvious and simple for those who might not know anything about accounting. The reality is, everyone is a consumer, no matter how large their business is.

Intuit: What’s next for you and your team?

Kylie: The next big frontier for us is personalization with machine learning. We’ve started to build it into some experiences, where we recommend new products and apps based on our users’ behavior and choices. We’re looking to expand this to educational content as well, to really foster our small business community. And ultimately, we hope the entire product experience will be better tailored to fit each user’s unique needs.

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