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Government Persona Research & Testing

Making tax filing less painful for NC citizens.

The challenge.

The North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) had a large website, helping residents find information specific to their unique filing situations. It became clear that users were having difficulty finding the information they needed when call volume exceeded available resources.

They were facing two major challenges:

First, the existing content structure was created based on the silos within the organization. When a user’s need crossed organizational silos, they would get lost and call for support.

Second, in addition to organizing complex information for many users, the Department of Revenue wanted to encourage electronic tax filing. Driving behavioral change is never easy, but it would have significant benefits for the state and taxpayers alike.

The outcomes.

  • An 18% increase in electronic filing of sales tax 
  • A drop of over 26,000 phone calls

How we did it.

Atlantic BT was tasked with redesigning NCDOR’s website and building an improved information architecture for over 6,000 pages housing 13,000 PDFs.

Task-based persona research.

First, Atlantic BT facilitated collaborative workshops with NCDOR employees who directly handled phone inquiries from customers. With the support of this group, we were able to identify pain points and brainstorm solutions.

Next, we reviewed Google Analytics to gain insight into how users were interacting with the website content, how they navigated, and where they exited.

With this combined research, we were able to define and validate the needs and frustrations of over 14 personas.

Conducting user tests to validate findings.

The defined personas provided the basis for creating new labels for information on the website and defining needed paths to content. We successfully tested these labels and paths with participants using card sort and tree testing techniques.

Tree tests concluded that subjects navigated through the menu to desired content in less than 5 seconds. 88% of the time, they used the most direct path possible.

Creating a final design.

With these results, Atlantic BT was able to restructure and redesign the NCDOR website to quickly direct 14 personas to relevant information.
New navigation, clear labeling, and a modern design would simplify user paths.

The result.

After the new design was implemented, the NCDOR noticed a clear impact. There was a significant boost in web use, an increase in electronic filing, and a reduction in call volume:

  • An 18% increase in electronic filing of sales tax (more than twofold increase over previous trend)
  • A drop of 26,000 phone calls in a 4 month period

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