The California Board of Equalization (BOE) redesigned and relaunched its website last month to better connect its users to tax and fee information as well as payment processes.

The BOE, unlike other agencies, works with a “diverse” group of customers, due in part to having more than 33 tax and fee programs for the state, said the agency’s Deputy Director of External Affairs Jaime Garza. Due to its wide customer base, the big challenge was to determine how to simplify the various processes on the website like filing a tax return or paying a fee.

The website, redesigned by in-house staff, was modified after the BOE gathered feedback from customer surveys and usability studies. According to the BOE, the site now allows users to connect to the agency with social media, read tax news and updates, and complete processes with fewer clicks.

“We listened to our customers and have designed this new website to fit their needs,” said Executive Director Cynthia Bridges in a statement. “Our website offers our customers a convenient way to log in, easily access their accounts and stay up-to-date on important tax information, improving their online experience.”

Prior to unveiling the revamped site, the BOE had been using a 2006 template design that had been in place on the website since 2009. Garza said the old design template made navigation on the site challenging for users to complete tasks.

“It confused a lot of people who were trying to do very simple tasks like logging in and finding tax rates,” Garza said. “Our pages were really a wall of words, if you will, a lot of copy that we found did not really provide an easy, friendly way to help our tax and fee payers.”

Since the relaunch, Garza said a series of new features has made the site more user-friendly and easier to navigate.

Log in, Tax Filing, Payment Tabs

User feedback influenced the BOE’s decision to display tabs for the website’s three most common uses at the top of the home page. Now, the website displays the following features:

1.    an enlarged user login button;

2.    File a Return tab; and

3.    Make a Payment tab.

Popular Topics Section

To better engage with customers on what they search for on BOE’s site, the agency developed a “popular topics” section on the home page. Garza said the listed topics are based off of what the site’s users are linking to the most and what they want the most during a specific time period. 

Business Center

Through a virtual hub on the redesigned site, information related to a tax and fee payer's business or goal developing a business are located in the new “Business Center.” Industry guides have been developed so customers can know exactly what their business needs are.

For example, restaurant owners can search the BOE’s restaurant industry guides for a one-stop shop to find information on how to run a restaurant, what's required to run their business and other pertinent information.

‘How Was Your Experience?’ Feedback Tab

Through a multiple-choice style survey, users can rate their experience on the website by answering questions about how easy or challenging it was to use the site. Users can respond anonymously to the five questions and provide additional comments or suggestions.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.