Makiko Harris
UX Designer, Artist, Musician

Intuit QuickBooks Contractor Payments

Experiences geared towards self-employed contractors span across Intuit’s portfolio of products - QuickBooks, TurboTax, Mint, and more. The Contractor Ecosystem mission team attempts to ensure these experiences work harmoniously together. One such initiative is to make sure that when contractors receive a payment via QuickBooks, they can log in to a ‘Contractor Center’ and see a record of the payment received.


Project Overview



A way for self-employed contractors to view a history of payments received through QuickBooks 




While there are many scattered pockets of Intuit products that cater to self-employed contractor’s needs, there is no centralized place for contractors to view a history of their payment transactions with QuickBooks



Our user is self-employed, and sometimes is hired by small businesses as a contractor. In our scenario, these small businesses use QuickBooks to run their business and pay their contractors.

We’ll call the self-employed contractor Suzy, and the small business owner Dave.


Suzy, freelance graphic designer


Dave, small business owner



Project Goal

Create a centralized Payments portal for contractors like Suzy.

  • Inform them when payments are on their way

  • Allow them to view their payment details

  • Build awareness about their self-employment taxes (based on default tax profile)



My Role

I was the Lead Interaction Designer for the Contractor Payments project.  My role included designing the interactions, information architecture and user flow of the experience, overseeing a content and visual designer, and running user testing sessions to glean actionable design feedback.

Our team:

  • 1 Interaction Designer (me)

  • 1 Visual Designer

  • 1 Product Manager

  • 1 Content Designer

  • 1 Frontend Engineer

  • 1 Backend Engineer

My responsibilities:

  • Run a cross functional brainstorming session, glean actionable insights from brainstorm

  • Map out user flows

  • Design the experience using Sketch and pen & paper

  • Recruit, schedule, and moderate user interviews

  • Analyze research results and make actionable design recommendations

  • Present designs across the organization to get buy in from key stakeholders and leadership



Design Process 

Phase 0 - Generative Research

Pie-in-the-sky cross-functional brainstorming session to extract thoughts and ideas from internal resources

Key Concepts & Learnings 

There were so many great ideas around the future of contractor payments. Here are a few clusters:

  1. How might we create tools to help contractors focus less on their finances and more on their work?

  2. How might we help with the variability of contractor cash flow? Could we ‘guarantee’ on time payments?

  3. How might we improve the relationship between the contractor and the small business?

However, at the end of the day - everyone agreed that the MVP version included 2 things: 1) a way for contractors to be able to view their payments, and 2) a way to see how much they might owe in self employment taxes.



Phase 1 - Synthesizing

Grouping ideas and extracting key pain points

Grouping 1 - Intuit as support for manual work 

Give contractors control of their finances with a clear picture of where they are today, and how they are tracking to their future goals.


Grouping 2 - Intuit as assistant to automate work

Streamline and reduce administrative work related to payments, and let contractors focus on what they do best - their work!


Grouping 3 - Intuit as financial cushion

Give contractors payday security & normalize their pay schedules by leveraging the resources available to QB.

Grouping 4 - Implementation ideas



Phase 2 - Sketching

Low fidelity sketches after listening to user interviews and identifying key pain points

Design Principles 

Based on the pain points identified in generative research:

  1. Clarity - make everything very straightforward, scannable, and easy to understand even on the first time

  2. Get out of their way - let the contractor focus on what they do best; their work

  3. Benefit - offer additional benefits that aren’t simply transactional, but only if they don’t get in the way



Phase 3 - Design, Go Wide

Conceptual Wireframing & Research

Combine many concepts into one wireframe to gather feedback


User Feedback (conducted five 1-hour video interviews)

This is awesome!

Dev Feedback

This is awesome but…unfortunately, most of the data for these concepts is not currently available, with no future timeline for when it will become available.

Product & Marketing Feedback

This is awesome but…with so many added features, are we recreating QuickBooks Self-Employed - an existing product?



Phase 4 - Feature Prioritization

Identify which features to focus on

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Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 1.39.48 PM.png

Design-led conversation to prioritize features. Partnered with product to understand feasibility & timelines.



Phase 5 - Design, Go Narrow

Focused Wireframing & Research

Focus on 1 concept: view payments. Delve into design iterations.


User’s Ideal State



Paystubs Summary_MVP.png

Compromise between Ideal State & MVP (based on technical feasibility & user input)

Middle version.png

User Feedback (conducted five 1-hour video interviews)

This is a good start, but I want more…ability to run reports on my payments, etc.

Dev Feedback

We can build the MVP. The Ideal State is years away from possibility.

Product & Marketing Feedback

Let’s try to meet somewhere in the middle between what’s possible and what’s desirable. Let’s build something that gives the users a baseline - the ability to view payments received - and then let’s test & iterate from there. *Design agrees*



Phase 6 - Aligning & Redefining the Problem Statement

Stating the user-centric problem statement to focus the team on what to release first


I am a self-employed (SE) person who gets paid by my clients (SMBs) via QB direct deposit.

I am trying to be as organized and streamlined as possible, so I don’t have to spend time on administrative work and rather can spend my time doing work I enjoy and get paid for,

but keeping track of my finances, especially who paid me when, is cumbersome

because it’s all done manually and relies on me to remember everything (whether it be searching through my bank statements, looking for a check in the mail, or remembering to input it in excel)

which makes me feel anxious and not in control.



Phase 7 - Design to Launch


This project is a work in progress, and we hope to launch many more additional experiences. However, based on user feedback and cross functional conversations, we decided it is important to ship a baseline experience (the ability to view payments), and then test and iterate from there.



What's Next 

  • Currently in development 

  • Run A/B tests & additional qualitative user tests over the next year+

  • Continuously release improvements, updates, and new features