The importance of task analysis

When embarking on a new project or product, one should really go through the steps required to achieve the end result. Don’t get too stressed about the details though, just draw the big picture, define the major lines and draft a schedule. I was taught that almost every project will change from the original plan — and many times at that — before it is refined to its perfection.

At the UX Academy we had the assignment to create a task analysis of painting a living room of an apartment where I live with my roommates. This is a very practical task and even though it sounds simple, it requires careful planning and attention to different steps. I should know, I just actually renovated our apartment and got hands-on experience on task analysis.

Here you can see how the painting of living room is planned by means of task analysis:

First, assess the problem. In this case, I didn’t like the outdated, droopy and ugly wallpaper of our living room, so I planned to peel them off and paint the walls. In this case, there is more residents in the apartment, so I need to discuss the problem with them, and find out if they’re willing to oblige. If so, awesome! Now, I have to make sure I have enough resources to do the renovation a.k.a. where to get the money. Here the landlord will provide the money for the supplies, the work I need to pay for myself. Great! Then I explore the many options with my roommates. Oh the abundance of the choices! If one can’t decide on the colour, the hardware store will provide small badges of colour to test with. When we have reached the decision I will draft more specific plan and the list of supplies to purchase. And off to the hardware store!

Now the contracting may commence! Preparing the worksite is essential. Removing the furniture and covering the floor with plastic or paper. Taping the edges of windows and doors. The most time consuming and trickiest part is to remove the wallpaper. A wallpaper remover agent is very desirable to use, so that needs to be applied first. After that the wallpapers are much easier to remove. Now you have a blank canvas to paint on! But wait, to make sure that the result is smooth and uniform, you may want to wash those walls. And oh, to even out the surfaces I need to fill the holes in the walls with filler and sand the filled parts. Then we can talk about painting! Yeah! But first, again to achieve the finished surface, I need to paint with primer. There, after the primer has dried I can apply the actual paint. And to finish things up, paint it one more time with the colorful paint. Now I’m done! Phew.

Writers mark: After having actually painted the walls, the trickiest part is the removing of the wallpaper and evening out the walls, especially if the building is old. You never know what you find under those wallpapers and it might cause you to do some extra work, and the worst case scenario, to add a whole another layer of cement to ensure a smooth surface. The groundwork is essential and there is no shortcuts — except for hiring a contractor.

The finished product is only the tip of the iceberg.

To reflect this to UX task analysis, the visible part of the project/product is actually a very small part of the process. It’s the tip of the iceberg. The greatest part is preparing the product, doing the background work such as research and iterating the best solution. If the color isn’t right, it is best to test in small amounts and then try again to avoid huge chunk of rework. Build, measure and learn. Refining the actual product to make it as smooth and finished as possible is also very important.

Here is a helpful tutorial of how to actually paint your walls:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmX7-t0usA0

And how to remove those nasty wallpapers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ma0-X8mo9tQ

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