We were referred by an existing client and friend to Tom. Tom was looking for help developing and launching a new product (tool) that would calculate stamp duty for users on their website, free of charge.
There were existing tools available on the market, such as Government state and territory calculators or residential property transactions. However none of the existing tools worked across state borders (useful for an interstate or foreign investor), or had the application to apply various stamp duty based on the requirements of the transaction itself. Within Australia, stamp duty is a tax imposed on property business transactions directly by the State Governments — and what makes it complex, each one has different rules and regulations.
After an initial meeting, we had access to a sizeable excel spreadsheet that housed the data, and we understood that Tom was also looking at strengthening their inbound marketing opportunities through this project. We worked together to understand their target audience as well as explored opportunities to embed thought leadership directly within the calculator features. At various elements the calculator would highlight key information or insights based on user’s location and search criteria. The design then needed to take into consideration accessibility and usability across any device and geographical location.
We understood that users of the calculator would be potential buyers and sellers of property from anywhere across the globe. They could be individuals or making the calculation on behalf of different types of business entities.
The calculator provided real-time information tailored to the filter applied.
Typically users of the calculator may be in the early exploration phase for location and type of property, and it’s understood their general understanding of specific state-based legislation and requirements within the Australian context associated with the potential transaction may be minimal.
We worked to create the bones of a responsive calculator that could fluidly adapt the calculation. Key features included location-specific calculations as well as type of real estate, considering both played an important factor in the variability of stamp duty tax. We also developed prompted insights for the user at various stages of the calculation, providing them access to critical information at every step of their experience.
We built out a draft user experience (UX) within our client’s CMS — Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), taking into consideration those features. We then developed a methodology for effectively storing the data. Once we worked out the storage, we began writing the script to convert the rates into JSON object. Data was then transferred into the UI and the calculator was functional.
To do this effectively we read pages and pages of legislation. What we discovered was there were many variables in the tax. This meant that some users would be looking for multiple search and filter features. For example, there are differences between a foreign investor filter and a local residential user. If not properly included in the system, the calculations and requirements would impact on the user’s ability to properly calculate the potential stamp duty in their search. We all agreed to revise the scope and implementation plan to reflect the long-term value we could provide to users by introducing this information into the calculator.
After our initial QA, we began the user acceptance testing (UAT) to identify and resolve any issues with the content or calculations. We started developing Office of State Revenue calculations for each state and compared the calculations to ensure results were consistent.
We familiarised ourselves with legislative requirements and rules for each state to verify the calculations as they were entered into the mathematical equation and rules. Now that’s QA!
Staying true to our client’s existing responsive experience on their website, designs for the calculator were developed and tested with stakeholders and users. This resulted in the development of user-centric experience features. Such as a simple image-based calculator that that not only picked up the location you were buying in, but also calculated costs from your current location.
The accuracy of the end product was such that it was more accurate and comprehensive than many of the state government’s own tools. The end product reflected the sophistication of the stamp duty team’s field of expertise. It assisted the user in recognising that there might be an opportunity to optimise their transaction and turned the tool into an inbound marketing opportunity.
Titbits and takeaways
When exploring or developing features and applications within your website, look for opportunities to connect the feature with your inbound marketing strategy through user experience, SEO keywords, and conversion tactics.
Tools like websites should be responsive and consider the user’s context and how they will be engaging with you.
The importance of a quality assurance process cannot be overstated. While it’s not also necessary to become an impromptu expert in tax, it is important that you understand the context and data you are working within.