Task analysis is a fundamental analytical tool used in human factors that we also apply as part of our user-centred design approach. Task analysis describes how a given task is accomplished. The task could be anything, such as using a vending machine, searching a website or driving a train.
The data necessary to produce a task analysis is derived from various sources including: system functional descriptions, operational procedures, behavioural research, experimentation and user trials, user observation and interviews. Task analysis typically includes a detailed graphical mapping of the user's physical and cognitive actions, system states (hardware and/or software), information used and decision processes.
We use the findings in many ways, including:
- Defining design requirements
- Designing-out human error
- Development of scenarios for user trials and usability testing
- Assurance in safety critical systems
- Defining operational procedures
- Staff selection criteria
- Training requirements
- User instructions