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Putting user needs first

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With over 100,000 pages of content, tools and calculators, the HMRC website is one of the largest to be moved onto GOV.UK. So, where will we start? With real users and real needs.

The users of HMRC's website include individuals, sole-traders, small businesses, VAT registered companies, and tax professionals. A broad range of users with diverse needs.

In order to meet those needs we'll start by identifying, capturing and refining the needs by asking:

  • who the audience is
  • what it is they want to do
  • why they want to do it

From this, we'll then develop user stories like this one:

As a homeowner,
I plan to sell my house,
and want to know if I will have to pay capital gains tax.

And this one:

As a tax agent,
I want to understand Principle Private Residence Relief,
so that I can give my client the right advice.

Whilst both these user stories relate to tax on property, the content required to satisfy these needs differs considerably in length and complexity.

On GOV.UK currently there are two mainstream guides that could meet the first need - Buying and selling your home, and Capital Gains Tax on property. These don't however, meet the second more specialist need.

On the HMRC website there are several pieces of content that could meet that specialist need. There's Helpsheet 283, Capital Gains Manual CG64230, and various Statements of Practice. There's also the technical legislation: Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992, on

All HMRC content will have to demonstrate that it meets a specific user need before it will be transitioned to GOV.UK. Over the next few months we'll be working with HMRC to capture and refine a full list of needs. We'll then validate those needs using data and analytics, and evidence gathered from user research sessions with real users.

You can read more about user needs and how we write user stories on the GDS blog.

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