Task analysis is the backbone to any design project that is often neglected according to the IDF. It is a painless process for showing tasks from a user’s point of view, otherwise known as “user scenarios”. It is meant to pinpoint any current user frustrations and avoid repeating those mistakes in your design. Most simply, it helps determine what are the basic functions the user wants or needs and the most effective way to carry out those tasks.
Everything is a Process
I have come to learn that in UX, there is a process to most tasks or projects. These Processes do not always have to be followed perfectly, but they are meant to aid the designer in the right direction and to minimize mistakes that would waste time as the designer gets further along in their work.
Performing a task analysis is no different. First, the designer should determine and define a problem. These problems are not always obvious to the user, but as a designer, you must determine the problem areas in order to solve them. There are many tools that can be used to determine the problem.
Next, the designer must prioritize the problems since designers are always dealing with constraints: time, money, and other resources. This can be done by understanding the user behavior of current and prospective users.
Then, you develop your task flow. This can be done in many ways. IDF proposes a 5 stage process. First, you determine the ignition point, or what prompts the users to even begin a task. Second, the focus point or what tells the users that the task is complete. Third, determine what the users already know. Fourth, determine what the users need to know. And lastly, determine what tools or other resources users use during the task completion.
Document Your Findings into a Task Flow
This can be done simply through post-it notes or a storyboard. The key is to keep everything simple. You are simply grouping the different elements in the task completion process in order to make sure you are solving the problems efficiently and not repeating any mistakes along the way.
Painting a Room
My Task Analysis Process
I began by determining the problem: the room needed some maintenance. The solution i came up with was to paint the walls. Then I needed approval from involved parties (landlord and roommates). Then I needed to define any constraints beforehand to make sure to work around them through innovation or any other sources. Next, I had to determine how much the involved parties were willing to invest (time, money, other resources). After pre-planning, it was time to actually plan my project. I needed to research paints, painting tips, etc., this includes studying my roommates and their tests (they acted as personas). After presenting my project plan that includes: color scheme, timeline until completion, and costs; I began executing the project.
What I Learned
The task analysis project taught me how important planning is. I was constantly changing around the order of tasks; sometimes I neglected important tasks. Through my mistakes I learned how important establishing a task analysis is. It is vital in creating a project timeline that will ensure the designer has ample time to complete all tasks. It also allows the designer to see where and when, and the amount of resources that need to be applied to certain tasks through determining what tasks are more important or take more time.