Dawn Ressel

Intuit Widget Strategy

The Problem

Intuit began as a desktop software company with independent products that did not work together. As the company reimagined itself for a cloud-based world, our strategy was to become a SaaS company with a connected ecosystem of products. In order to achieve this vision, the foundational technologies were needed, including a common authentication system that recognized users as they moved across products. Prior to this, each team had its own authentication system and a different user experience. I lead the team responsible for unifying this experience across Intuit, and we created best practices for all our authentication and security experiences. As our team grew, we recognized there were other common problems across the company that could be solved once really well and leveraged by teams across the company. We developed UI Widgets to deliver these experiences in code so that they could be easily reused.



The UI widgets my team created had benefits for our users, designers, and developers. Under my design leadership, my team created dozens of UI widgets that created a better experience for customers and enabled the company's strategy of a connected ecosystem. In addition to the user experience benefits, there were dramatic cost savings and efficiency gains from the work our team did on widgets. Recently, a team developed an entirely new offering from start to launch in six weeks. This was possible because they were able to leverage the widgets my team designed to assemble much of their user experience.

This widget example is from the Financial Data Experience project. All of Intuit's products are related to financial management, and there’s overlap in some of the tasks that you need to do in these products. For instance, you may need to import documents, whether it’s a W2 or 1099 for your taxes, or a receipt for your accounting, you need to get data into our products. And you can either do that by connecting directly to your bank, uploading a document you’ve scanned, or taking a picture on your mobile phone. The experience can and should be the same whether you’re working on your budget or your taxes. In fact, users expect a familiar experience.

Process and Documents

One of the challenges of creating widgets was balancing the need for fixed elements of the experience that enabled best practices and cohesion with flexible elements that allowed for our individual product brands to shine. I lead the strategy to address this problem, which we called widget configurability. I authored a document with the input from design leaders and designers across the company and got buy-in for the approach. This allowed us to have a consistent approach to how we developed widgets with a common understanding of which parts were fixed vs. flexible. This became extremely important as we developed more widgets and needed to get teams to adopt them and buy into our design rationale. This is the document that I authored on widget configurability.

Presentation at Enterprise UX 2016

This is a video of my talk titled Full Stack User Experiences: A Marriage of Design and Technology. I gave this presentation to an audience of 500 user experience professionals.