After dealing with the IRS site and then hopping over to Blinksale, I realized the beauty of well-designed forms. One key ingredient? Any field in your form must be able to be figured out by your target audience. If you’re asking for something that your audience might not be able to figure out, you should explain what you’re looking for or provide an example of possible values or responses. Blinksale gets this right about 94% of the time. The government? 20. At most.

Gee, who’s site will I frequent more often and even enjoy using (ignoring that there’s hardly an alternative besides pricey lawyers for the goverment site)?

If you guessed the former, or any other site that follows this simple practice, you’d be right.

It’s not just “don’t make me think”; it’s also “please let me know what you’re thinking!

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Author: Chris Messina

Product guy, friend to startups, inventor of the hashtag, proponent of bots and conversational apps; Xoogler and X Uber.

8 thoughts on “—”

  1. Dealing with taxation is one of the most upsetting computing experiences for me. Should there be a market for software to help a person with a simple tax scenario, or should it be a citzen’s right to a decent experience when paying taxes provided by the government.

  2. In dealing with the IRS, I was actually getting an EIN, not paying taxes, but your point stands.

    I would highly recommend Turbotax.com — it’s actually extremely well done and well worth the low price of admission.

  3. The IRS is terrible at explaining regulations and laws. Worse still, inaccurate information abounds on the internet and many people rely to their detriment.

    I’ve blogged on this very topic recently.

  4. EIN: Yeah, I saw your blog post and photos on Flickr of that horror of a website.

    I used Turbotax for my US taxes though our Canadian taxes are now complicated enough that we decided to have an accountant do them.

    Turbotax is really nice, though i still find it hard to stomach paying for something that should be a free government provided service. A government benefits likely more than an individual from individuals filing online, should they not bare the cost and reap the benefit? Seems like something that various governments could collaborate on.

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