Comparative User Task Analysis

Four Users All Do The Same Task DIfferently

CUTA stands for Comparative User Task Analysis. In the CUTA method, you want your customers to use a set of cards to describe all of the steps for a particular task. You want to document all of the steps, which might include:

  • Mental Activity — which is something your customer must think about
  • Technology Activity — using a calculator or looking at an email
  • Physical Activity — installing a printer cartridge or walking somewhere
  • Non-technology Activity — talking with a supervisor, attending a meeting

You want your customers to breakdown a task beyond your site and app to uncover hidden opportunities to make your product easier to use and learn.

How to Perform the CUTA Method

  1. Determine the high-level tasks you want your customers to breakdown.
  2. Provide a brief description of the CUTA method. You may need to have an example to show the different activities (mental, technology, non-technology, and physical) for a specific task.
  3. Tell them to write an M for mental, T for technology, N or non-technology, and P for physical activity on the top right of each post-it note.
  4. Your customers create their task flow using the CUTA cards (that they build). The post-it notes can be moved around, as the customers add to or adjust their task flow.
  5. After they are done, review the task flow with your customer. If you have any questions, you need to ask them now. Make sure you can read their writing.
  6. Repeat steps 1–5 with as many participants, as desired. You will get good results with 7–8 participants.
  7. Compare the different task flows. Look for opportunities.

Tips and Tricks

  • Consider using different color post-it notes for each type of activity.
  • Post smaller post-its on large sheets on paper (roll up and carry away).
  • Your customers should do their task flows separately, at first.
  • Look for similarities, workarounds, differences, and inefficiencies.
  • Find opportunities to make your product better, faster, and smarter.

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