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Task AnalysisMethod

Task analysis is the process of observing users in action to understand in detail how they perform tasks to achieve their intended goals. Tasks analysis helps you identify the tasks that your website and applications must support in order to meet users’ needs.

Insight gained from task analysis can help you:

  • refine or re-define your site’s navigation
  • develop an effective site structure
  • define and fine tune search functionality and search scope
  • define success criteria for usability testing


Task Analysis is often more effective when it is informed by these complementary methods.


Use market research, competitive analysis, and web metrics analysis to help you decide which tasks are the most important to analyze. The analysis process focuses on decomposing high level tasks down into smaller subtasks and individual actions. Examining these steps in detail helps you better understand user motivations, challenges, and workarounds.

  1. Identify the task to be analyzed.
  2. Break this high-level task down into 4 to 8 subtasks.  The subtask should be specified in terms of objectives and, between them, should cover the whole area of interest.
  3. Draw a layered task diagram of each subtask, ensuring that it is complete.
  4. Produce a written account as well as the decomposition diagram.
  5. Present the analysis to someone else who has not been involved in the decomposition but who knows the tasks well enough to check for consistency.


Task Analysis typically produces insight and solutions focused on these areas:

  • Mental Model

    The user's conceptualization of how a product, system, or service works.

  • User Behavior

    Information about how users currently use a site, service, or resource.

  • User Goals

    The outcomes that users hope to accomplish with a site, service, or resource.

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