Five Reasons to Conduct Task Analysis

When it comes to UX design, conducting a task analysis on a product or system is a valuable method for understanding users and how they the use or expect to use a product. While there are many different kinds of task analyses, such as cognitive or physical task analysis, they can offer benefits to the project team before and while designing a product or system.

1. To uncover holes in a product

By using task analysis, we map out all actions required for a task. In case we miss one, putting the entire flow down on paper (or digital paper, like Miro), we can identify steps that may be missing from an existing product or system. Mapping out all actions a user takes can also identify where a user’s mental models may differ from the designer’s.

2. To understand what information is required for every stage in a task

Mapping all the information or data that is required for either a machine/product and user at every task and decision ensures information is presented at relevant times to users when they need it. This can also help developer teams easily understand how to build the network for sending and receiving information at the proper stages in a product flow. For example, a login password is only checked after the user types on into the correct field and clicks login, not before. Providing or checking information at the wrong stage within a task flow can confuse a user or lead to insecure systems.

3. To align the project team on the scope of the product

Building a task analysis as a team ensures everyone understands the key tasks of a system or product and knows how their specific project within the system contributes to the greater tasks. Team-members can better communicate understanding the whole process of task competition.

4. To delineate user and machine tasks

In the case of automated systems, marking which tasks are completed by humans and machines, as well as the automation level of those completed by machines, helps to understand the human-machine workflow. With this task analysis, we can design how a system communicates in transitions from human tasks to machine tasks and vice versa. For example, a dishwasher typically communicates to a human a cleaning cycle is done by sounding a chime and displaying a clean status. Some dishwashers don’t sufficiently communicate completeness, opening up a market for clean/dirty indicators.

5. To compare product iterations

Task analyses can be compared at the beginning and final stages of a product to assess efficiency. When comparing the same task, if the task analysis of a later iteration requires fewer steps than that of an earlier version, designers can measure their impact.

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Eva Denman

Eva Denman

A Human Factors Engineering Master’s student at Tufts University with a passion for UI, UX research and entrepreurship.