Product Ideation: Task Analysis for Painting a Room

As part of the user research and strategy module in DesignLab, the students’ first assignment was to produce a Task Analysis Map. According to Usability.gov, 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 goals.” It involves analyzing and breaking down the task into small, sequential parts as a way to understand the details of how any given task is accomplished.

The prompt: outline all the steps that it takes to paint a living room in a sketched out storyboard format.

Easy, I thought. But then I realized that each additional step that occurred was based on a previous step before. Before diving into sketching each part step by step, I started creating a list of steps as to how I would approach it and that’s when I realized all the different paths that could occur. After shuffling the list around several times, I went with the safest scenario possible that would get me to the goal of painting the room and waste as little time as possible. For example:

  1. State the problem: walls need new paint.
  2. Survey other users (i.e. roommates) to see if this is a problem everyone agrees on.
  3. Have a conversation with the landlord/owner for permission to paint the wall. Check for restrictions and parameters (i.e. color choices).
  4. Research the steps in painting a wall and materials needed, including how to prep a wall that already has paint or wallpaper.
  5. Make estimate of cost based on research.
  6. Review cost owner. If owner refuses to pay, ask roommates to split cost.
  7. Decide on a paint color and sheen that everyone can agree on.
  8. Purchase materials.
  9. Prep the walls and area for painting.
  10. Paint the wall with recommended number of coats.
  11. Clean up and enjoy the new look.

There are many paths that could have happened up there. For example, I could have done #3 before #2, which in retrospect might have saved myself the time of having a discussion with my roommates had the owner said “no” to begin with. Many of the steps depend on the response to the previous step. For example, if the owner and roommates refuse to fund the project, then everything would stop right there. Maybe I could have researched the process and cost for the entire project before approaching either party and it would have saved me step #6 of having to review the cost with them. However, if either party said “no” to the project, the research prior would have been wasted energy.

Please share if you have discovered a more efficient path that would have ended up with the same outcome.

Meanwhile, here’s my storyboard.

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