After the previous year's successful app launch on iOS, year 2 consisted of updates primary in branding, supporting the new (taller) iPhone5 screen, and bug fixes.  Proud to say that we added only 1 single customer-facing feature in this update: Push Notifications.  If any one of your clients' tax return is rejected by the IRS or state taxing authority, you now know instantly (vs. having to scan the client list for the accepted/rejected icons).
The correct way to do a launch image (aka "splash screen") in iOS.  Launch image (left), Sign-In screen (center), and Passcode screen (right).  By only showing static elements of the first actual screen during the launch of the app, you create a sense of decreased "perceived launch time of your app" (from Apple iOS HIG).
The wrong way to do a launch image.  Some popular app examples that do it incorrectly, resulting in the "type of startup experience that prevents people from using your app immediately."  It can be jolting to go from any of the above images to the first screen of the app.  You should "Avoid using your launch image as an opportunity to provide:
- An “app entry experience,” such as a splash screen
- An About window
- Branding elements, unless they are a static part of your app’s first screen
Because users are likely to switch among apps frequently should design a launch image that downplays the experience rather than drawing attention to it." (from Apple iOS HIG)
The core architecture of the mobile app consists of just 3 main screens:
- Client List
- Summary Screen (for 1 client, all tax returns including prior year)
- Details Screen (for 1 client's one tax return)
One of the most important findings in our iterations was that accountants did NOT want to see the contact information for a client when they tapped on one (the way every other list of contacts works). No, "just show me the 'meat' [summary data, i.e. e-File Status and Refund Amount/Due] right away."  You can still access standard contact info for the client (e.g. street address that launches Maps app, phone, email, messaging shortcuts), but it's an extra tap away (tapping on the name from the Summary Screen).
Screenshot Flow Diagram of v1 of the app (TaxYear2011), showing how even a simple app is complex behind the scenes.
The secure sending of a PDF experience.  Since the tax return is the mother lode of sensitive information, we wanted the emailing to be secure -- it's not acceptable to just attach and let the accountant send.  I wanted to design an experience that was simple and straightforward, while still being secure.  This 3 step process:
- Tap the action/send button in the top right when viewing the PDF
- Type in any word for us to encrypt the PDF on, and tap Continue
- We format an email using the default iOS Mail app, complete with the client's email in the To: field, an editable message, and the now password-protected PDF attached.  You simply hit send if all looks good.
There is then a reminder to the accountant that it is "on them" to share the password with their client.  They could of course, defeat the security by typing "the password is: intuit" in the body of the email, but we found that most used a commonly known combination (e.g. Client's ZIP code + last 4 digits of SSN) or they were on the phone with the client and shared real-time.  We did everything in our power to make it simple AND secure for them, and Intuit's Security team was blown away (and approved it with flying colors).
Customers told us that even when they were sitting in front of their computer, signed in to ITO (the main product that this app is a companion to), and they got a request from a client for a copy of their tax return, they would pull out their phone to send it!  "It was just easier and faster than doing it through the that feature!".  This sequence was featured in the CEO's Leadership Offsite video on awesome mobile product experiences.
An example of the constant striving for awesome design.  Many small battles were fought over "minor" details like this.  This particular image showcases 7 discrepancies just on the sign-in screen alone!  This actual image was famously passed around and used by managers, directors, and VPs to showcase how attention to detail matters and how more was needed on the engineering side of things.
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