IRS Form 1040 Redesign: The standard individual income tax form, the IRS 1040, is indicative of the lack of user-centered design forced upon the public. Used by every conceivable demographic in the United States, the form seems to have been designed in an effort to promote mistakes and confusion. Because of its broad circulation and poor design, I centered my usability redesign class project on the Form 1040.
The form violates many principles of usability: it has no discernible starting point, no clear path toward completion, a lack of hierarchy, a plethora of alignments and inputs, and a dearth of plain language.
The redesign is a trade-off of sorts: instead of squeezing an incomprehensible design onto one sheet of paper, the revision opts for aesthetics across multiple pages. The printing costs, however, are mitigated by the potential reduction in audits, revisions, refilings, and mistake-induced restarts.
While the proposed redesigns do not venture into taxes, credits, income, and refunds, the proposed revisions serve as a template for their layout.
At bottom is the original Form 1040.