Reimagining TurboTax's Upsell FlowCase Study, Reflection
This project is partially shipped, so this page does not reflect everything I worked on—If you're a hiring manager and you have been provided the password to my NDA-protected work, please view my full case study here
User story
I am a TurboTax user who is trying to file my taxes - but I keep getting asked to pay more for my return which makes me feel confused and frustrated.

Frequent upsells = higher drop-off rate!

The new TurboTax’s Complexity-based Line Up system is hard to understand. Around 65% of our users chose the wrong product for their tax situations, resulting in multiple upsells down the process.


of users upgrade to the required TurboTax product when prompted once, with a completion rate between 64-83% after the upsell. However...


users who chose the free Turbotax product saw multiple upsells.


of users who saw multiple upsells chose to abandon their filing process.
How might we...

✦ Soft Upsell Reimagined; HMC Tool

✅ The upsell experience is wrapped with an in-app help-me-choose (HMC) interface to create a relevant upsell offering to the users

✅ A personalized and clear upsell message to better communicate why the users need to upgrade and the benefits of upgrading

✅ Designed for scalability to accommodate changing business needs!
Double Diamond Design Process
✦ Soft upsell vs hard upsell✦
Soft upsell recommends the proper TurboTax product based on the user's at tax situation and is skippable. When the user skips the soft upsell, they will likely experience hard upsell at some point in their filing process. Hard upsell must be taken in order to continue and file the user's tax return.

Interact with the modal to see the current TurboTax DIY user flow!
❗️Interactive user flow is currently only available on desktop view. Sorry!

~65% of users chose the wrong product for their tax situation.

Essentially, when the users fill in forms that are not covered by their chosen TurboTax product, an upsell flow will be triggered. We gained insights from quantitative data, qualitative data, and a user observation session to see what caused users to choose an incorrect TurboTax product for themselves. Below are the highlighted problems from our research:
✦ Users are demanded to choose a product without being guided ✦
While the expandable cards explain the perks and benefits of each product, the explanations are long, hard to understand, and visually confusing on mobile interface. On top of that, users mostly care about perks and benefits that directly align with their needs, and this information is not highlighted properly.
✦ Soft upsell feels optional and ad-like ✦
The soft upsell that is supposed to lead the users to the correct product based on their tax situations looks similar to the promotional ad UI within the TurboTax app, causing users to often disregard them.
✦ Unclear messaging✦
Unarticulated reasons why users need to upgrade
As seen from the upsell screen, users are just essentially told to upgrade without being explained why.

"Most popular" tag

Users have different tax situations that are covered by different TurboTax products, yet the highlighted product is not customized to the user's needs which can lead them into multiple upsell flows later on.
Onboard and rightsize user at the same time

Guide users to choose the correct product based on their tax situations from the very beginning of tax filing process.
Strengthen the messaging for the soft upsell flow
Make the soft upsell flow more personal and intentional to make it more irrelevant and avoid it looking like an ad campaign.
Make user understand which product will help them the most and why
Help users differentiate between service and product upsells while also highlighting the benefit and perks of each product that are relevant to them.
✦ The IKEA Effect ✦
While enforcing a single hard upsell seemed intuitive for us to do at this moment, (instead of the current soft upsell → hard upsell), the IKEA effect seems to take place based on our user observation: users are more likely to file when they are faced with the hard upsell screen after completing several forms upon skipping the soft upsell.
✦ Easy-to-understand product explanations✦
Tax filing is a highly technical process, resulting in a lengthy and complex product description to be able to communicate the process correctly. This product explanation is challenging to understand for most users, and this is a problem we need to tackle.
✦ Users are willing to pay, but hate being upsold to✦
65% of TurboTax’s users upgraded when prompted with a mandatory upsell with a file/completion rate between 64-83% after taking the upsell. The messaging needs to sound personalized and not ad-like.
✦ Early Guidance with HMC tool✦
Streamlining the initial product-choosing experience and the upsell flow into the in-product help-me-choose (HMC) tool.
✦Recommendation Highlight✦
A clear signal for the recommended product even when the user chooses not to upgrade when prompted.
✦ 👁_👁 ✦
This section of the project is still protected under an NDA. View my full case study here with the password I provided in my resume/application!
✦ This product is shipped!✦
Many improvements were made since I left Intuit, but the concept we worked on was shipped and is live in the product now.
✦ Designing for user behaviors✦
In our Follow Me Home (user observation) session, we noticed that users removed certain items from their claims in hopes of getting further price reduction and filed without claiming. This action will result in inaccurate tax filing, and is in need of intervention that can be done in the future.
This work is only partially displayed due to NDA. Please refer to this link if you have the password from my resume. Or you can also contact me through email, LinkedIn, or X if you are interested to learn more about it :)
In the summer of 2022, I worked as a Product Design intern at Intuit where me and my team work collectively to improve the experience of using TurboTax Core product line, focusing mainly on the Canadian mobile product experience. Scroll down to read about what I've worked on and what I learned from it!
In this internship, I was involved in:
Creating a smoother in-app experience to advocate for optimal user control and reduce user error
End-to-end design process including competitor analysis, design facilitations, and wireframing to solve user and business problems
Lots of fun in building professional and personal relationships!
and more!
My internship experience catalyzes both my personal and professional growth due to its challenging nature. While I wished I could spend more time to create and learn with the TurboTax team, my short but sweet internship semester taught me a lot more than I could ever expect. Here are the highlights of my semester at Intuit:
✦ Go crazy! (within constraints) ✦
At a complex organization like Intuit, I had to work within the constraints of the design system. Especially as an intern, I had to adapt to this and constantly reiterate, making sure that I adhere to the product's "design language". I learned how to explore deep and wide while not breaking the existing product experience.

Of course, a lot of my explorations ended up being tossed out right to archive because they stepped outside the business scope. But that's okay! That's how I learned the most about the business cycle of an established company. This also taught me how to be holistic in my design thinking because not only I design for the users, but I also design for the business.
✦ Prototype without permission ✦
This is a value that is practiced highly within Intuit. As a designer, I learn that the best way to communicate my ideas is by visually demonstrating it! Prototyping early also jump starts conversation, showing a proactiveness within the team.
✦ Design critiques are professional, not personal! ✦
While design critiques is an important part of a design process, I have to admit that I used to struggle with accepting critiques. Being used to design as an individual, I tied myself to my designs quite often, resulting in me taking criticism as a personal attack. At Intuit, I worked collaboratively with people from different functions to achieve one common set of goals. This was how I learned that design critiques are not personal, but it is simply for the sake of everyone involved in the project, including the users.