I haven't had the opportunity to use Turbo Tax but if asked to design an
application in that realm i would want to reference the layout, task flow,
information chunking, and vocabulary terms being used in Tax forms in order
to start brainstorming.
Now assuming that we all have tried to file our own taxes the old way at
least once, then the chances that this is a readily available mental model
for most users will be increased. I believe this reference is very important
when it comes to the user's perception of an application as "intuitive".
As far as having 2 interfaces one for beginners and one for intermediate
users (and the goal of moving along users from beginners the beginner to the
We should keep in mind that there are training tools that are becoming
popular in applications e.g. "Wizards" (think Microsoft's Powerpoint) when
you start the application the first thing you see is the options provided by
the wizard pop-up.) Once an user has created a couple of presentations using
the wizard he or she may bypass the wizard training tool and "graduate" to
the intermediate user level.
As long as the user has the readily available option to turn off this
training tool the wizard may remain a good introductory option for new
After writing this I cruised over to the Turbo Tax website. And...Voila!
they have a "Demo" tutorial (an external training tool") available on their
website's homepage. Judging from this quick demo not only do they use the
IRS tax form mental model but they even adhere to the Visual qualities of
the tax form, same vocabulary terms, tasks chunked into clearly defined
"steps" blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.