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Web site Task Analysis

Task analysis is a method of providing an extraction of the tasks users undertake when they open a site. It is conducted to understand the current web site and the information flows within it. These information flows are important to the maintenance of the existing web site and must be incorporated or substituted in any new web site. Task analysis makes it possible to design and allocate tasks appropriately within the web site. The functions to be included within the site and the user interface can then be accurately specified.

How To Do Task Analysis?

Task decomposition

The aim of ‘high level task decomposition’ is to decompose the high level tasks and break them down into their constituent subtasks and operations. This will show an overall structure of the main user tasks. At a lower level it may be desirable to show the task flows, decision processes and even screen layouts.

The process of task decomposition is best represented as a structure chart (similar to that used in Hierarchical Task Analysis). This shows the sequencing of activities by ordering them from left to right. In order to break down a task, the question should be asked ‘how is this task done?’ If a sub-task is identified at a lower level, it is possible to build up the structure by asking ‘why is this done?’ The task decomposition can be carried out using the following stages:

1. Identify the task to be analyzed.

2. Break this down into subtasks. These subtasks should be specified in terms of objectives and cover the whole area of interest.

3. Making a conscious decision at this stage will ensure that the entire subtask is treated consistently. It may be decided that the decomposition should continue until flows are more easily represented as a task flow diagram.

Task flow analysis will document the details of specific tasks the user performs in the web site, or any problems related to them. Copies of screens from the current site may also be taken to provide details of interactive tasks. Task flows will not only show the specific details of current work processes but may also highlight areas where task processes are poorly understood, are carried out differently by different users, or are inconsistent with the higher level task structure.

Benefits Of Task Analysis

With cognitive task analysis you can build a site that works in a way your customers understand, or do not waste time and money building functionality. Provides knowledge of the tasks that the user wishes to perform. Thus it is a reference against which the value of the site functions and features can be tested.

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Last modified on 22 September 2004

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