Representing work for the purpose of design
Designing products well requires a clear and detailed understanding of how people work. However design teams are not usually expert at understanding work, and there are no generally-accepted techniques for representing how people work appropriate to design. Without support for thinking about the customer, design teams tend to focus on the technology and the system delivered. In this paper, we describe the modeling techniques we have developed to represent work and show how they support product design activity.
Task analysis analyses what a user is required to do in terms of actions and/or cognitive processes to achieve a task. A detailed task analysis can be conducted to understand the current system and the information flows within it. These information flows are important to the maintenance of the existing system and must be incorporated or substituted in any new system. Task analysis makes it possible to design and allocate tasks appropriately within the new system. The functions to be included within the system and the user interface can then be accurately specified.
Task-based audience segmentation
"Task-based segmentation is a technique that defines your target audience by the tasks they perform to achieve a goal. My client didn’t need to segment 35,000 employees by the exact role they played, where they were located, their computer aptitude, their career goals, etc. She could classify them instead into four audience segments based on what they were trying to accomplish regarding all aspects of their relationship with the Human Resources department."
"As of late, when designing applications, we have started taking the approach of organizing not by "site maps", but instead by "task maps". With information-oriented sites, site maps are ok, because the main task is information-seeking, and site maps enable that. Naturally, if all users have to do is find information, then how that information is organized is extremely important. In the case of an application though, information-seeking is often only one of many tasks that users need to accomplish, and a site map is not enough."
TaskArchitect is a task analysis tool designed by human factors professionals to make hierarchical task analysis easy. It was designed to reduce the time it takes to carry out task analysis. A trial version of the product is available for download.