How can the City of Boston improve the user experience with its Assessing Online tool to make it easier to search for data, file for exemptions, and submit abatement requests?
- Osama Arif
- Elle Creel
- Doug Lavey
- Marta Milkowska
- Emily Terwelp
What Web page do Boston taxpayers visit the most?
You might be surprised to learn that Boston’s online property assessment tool, Assessing Online, is the most popular webpage, averaging 3,000 visits each day.
This tool provides a valuable service to Bostonians — by typing in an address, residents and other users can access property-specific information, including tax rates, assessed values, and structural details.
We were tasked by the City of Boston to help redesign the Assessing Online tool. We interviewed 25 users and found that while the tool's users were diverse, they all had one of three main goals: understanding and disputing property taxes, informing homebuying decisions, or understanding home improvement decisions.
We focused on how we could help inform homebuying decisions, and chose realtors as our primary user group because they use the city property information much more often. With more user research, we found that realtors like having homebuying information in one place, have different preferences on the smaller details, and will still use multiple listing services as their primary tool, but that they like to verify information on city websites.
With this information, we prototyped The Property Info Tool. This tool is a one-stop-shop that has all the city’s property information in one place, and also integrates permitting information and introduces field descriptions. We hope that in addition to building this tool, the City of Boston will ensure that the new Property Info tool meets the needs of other user groups, explore sharing Assessing Data with third parties, and improve the offline process.