Task analysis is the process of learning about ordinary users by observing them in action to understand in detail how they perform their tasks and achieve their intended goals.
Task analysis is one of the tools I use during the “define” stage of our ‘Design Thinking’ process. The most frequent deliverable of a task analysis activity is a diagram explaining the steps a user must take to complete a goal. In this diagram, you must depict the users’ actions (or process) that users must do to achieve their goals.
Once I’ve laid out all the steps, we can then be able to see where additional support is required (for example, we might wish to automate some actions that the user currently undertakes), or eliminate unnecessary steps to simplify the experience.
Jobs to be done
I also use the framework of ‘Jobs to be done’ (JTBD) in conjunction with task analysis, as it allows us to think beyond the current functional aspects and optimise a user’s task even more.
Qualitative research must come before this phase as the data collected through observing how users go about their daily lives, inform us of the scenarios and identifies the following:
- The emotional trigger: What prompts users to start their task?
- The desired outcome: How users will know when the task is complete?
- Any existing knowledge: What will the users be expected to know when starting the task?
- Any required knowledge: What the users need to know to complete the task?
- Any artefacts: What tools or information do the users utilise during the task?