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Designing for global stakeholder trust

EY Tax Lab // 2019-2021

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SUMMARY

End-to-end design and global demo of multiparty product results in published report by 12 entities & groundwork for commercial production in 2024

The blockchain team of EY’s Tax Lab was innovating a ground-breaking way to enable government tax authorities and various financial entities around the world to securely exchange sensitive investor information via private blockchain technology so that investors gain tax relief at source (lower WHT rates on dividend payouts), moving the world towards greater transparency in audit. I enabled stakeholders to see how the technology could be tangibly applied through detailed UIs and comprehensive user flows that the team developed and demoed. This resulted in a successful global demo of the applied technology. It also resulted in 33+ stakeholders from 12 government and industry organizations to trust in the blockchain solution as proven by their published collaboration on the Withholding Tax Distributed Ledger Report in July of 2021. TaxGrid is moving into commercial production as of 2024.
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CHALLENGE + IMPACT

How can I design an experience that demos the underlying technology applied to cross-border dividend events?

Impact to Governments and Security Issuers
  • Enhancement of transparency and trust among all stakeholders
  • Streamline the exchange of investor documentation to improve efficiency and compliance.

Impact to Custodians (Local and Global), Financial Intermediaries, and Distributors
  • Foster better information sharing and trust, particularly when dealing with the same investors
  • Reduce administrative burdens and inefficiencies through simplified and unified documentation process

Impact to Investors
  • Ensure accurate and accessible documentation to avoid the default maximum 30% withholding tax rate
  • Significantly cut down on the time, effort, and paperwork required for tax refund processes​​
CONTEXT

Owning UX on a globally distributed blockchain team

What I Did
  • Conducted domain research, synthesized findings into user/system requirements, and defined persona groups. 
  • Designed and maintained 500+ screens across 5 user groups
  • Provided storyboards, user flow diagrams, app map, wireframes, copywriting, taxonomy, mockups and prototypes 
  • SME reviews and basic usability testing
  • Collaborated with development team and PM to deliver designs, specs and assets
  • Identified UX bugs ranked by usability error severity and provided design recommendations.
  • Branding, report design, and video editing.
     
Leading UX on Globally Distributed Team
1 UX Designer at 50% availability (me); 1 Associate Director of Blockchain Technology at 50% availability; 1 Product Manager / Project Manager; 1 Technical Lead / Scrum Master; 6 Developers
 
Timeline
20 months
Tools
Figma, Sketch, InVision, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premier Pro, Google Suite
RESULTS

The usable interface enabled a successful global demo and engendered stakeholder trust 

Demo Report Published and Moving Into Production as of 2024
The demo report was published in Summer of 2021. The UX design bolstered trust in TaxGrid’s underlying blockchain technology as proven by the published collaboration on the WHT demo report by 4 non-US government agencies, 6 financial organizations, and 2 European universities: EY, HMRC, Norwegian Tax Administration, Netherlands Tax Authorities, Citi, BNP Paribas, J.P. Morgan, Northern Trust, APG, PGGM, Vienna University of Economics and Business, and University of Exeter Business School. As of 2024, the latest version of TaxGrid is moving into commercial production.
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REFLECTION

Working in a UX silo with a technical team

Introduce the UX Process
It’s important to manage expectations on both sides. A good way to start is to provide a basic introduction to the UX process and what it delivers at each phase. If you can map what’s already been done and what still needs doing to this process, you can more easily align on expectations and next steps.
Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities
Whether you find yourself in a setting where you are the only UX professional on a team or you are on a team with other UX folks, you must define roles and responsibilities at the beginning. This may require some cross-education between team members to understand what each role does and delivers. In cases where there are overlapping responsibilities, decide who will do what and why.
Find Your UX Community
When working in a UX silo, it is critical to take the initiative to connect with other UX professionals within the company (if there are any). The UX community is a treasure trove of useful resources, insights, and supportive people. Take it a step further and find a UX mentor for periodic check-ins.
Set Realistic Expectations and Articulate Your Needs
When you are the only person from your profession on the team, it’s important to help your team members understand what you can and cannot do and why. Clear articulation of what you need to be able to do your job and why is also important. Whenever possible, it’s best to present solutions to your own roadblocks, as you may be the best person to do this anyways. It shows initiative and that you value your team’s and leadership’s time.
Begin with a Heuristic Evaluation and Competitive Research
To build a strategic foundation, begin with a heuristic evaluation of what’s already been created. The UX designer gets a chance to understand the system and make recommendations on usability issues ranked by severity as well as missing screens. Furthermore, initial competitive research is always possible even if you’re inventing something new. Insights can be gleamed from indirect competitors at a granular level, including things like information architecture, interaction patterns, component design, visual composition and copywriting.
Set Expectations on Time To Build and Manage Your Design System
This is part of managing time expectations. One of the areas that requires extra time from designers is daily/weekly management and documentation of the design system components. As design files grow in size and complexity, this best practice is essential to maintaining quality, consistency and speed. Not only does it enable new/future designers to work with the design files, it is a critical part of effective collaboration between designers and developers.
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