User Experience: Tasks
Know what you're trying to achieve

You've probably read the previous post, User Experience: Why YOU need it; if you haven't, head back to that blog first. This post will expand on the subject; for example, how to apply a simple concept such as customer's tasks to any project and how it will benefit you and your product.

First things first, what are tasks?

Well, they're exactly the same tasks as what you probably have everyday when you go to work, or even the list you have at home. Tasks are actions, goals, or objectives you need to complete. Depending on the person, the list can be small, or it can be massive.

However, massive lists generally don't lead to efficient task completion, so we'll be focusing on the small ones.

When you wake up every morning you probably have a routine. That routine may consist of the following:

Now, your list may differ from this one, but the idea should be the same: wake up, eat, put on clothes, and go to work (well, maybe not in that order,and if you're not eating breakfast, you should, but that's a topic for another day). The same goes for users when they encounter any product, whether it be a website, app, or even their toothbrush. They have a list of subconscious goals they want to achieve. These goals are their motivation for using [insert your product or service here]; design becomes secondary to these motivators.

If the user/customer can't achieve what he or she wants to, regardless of how the product looks, the user will never come back.

I'll give you an example of this issue: recently I tried using an app, CoachMe, to help with creating better habits in my life. It’s a great idea: you check in every day, talk to other people who have the same goals, and make progress alongside them. A major influence in whether or not a person makes a change is a support system, and this app helps to give you one.

I loved the idea, great concept. The problem was a poor execution.

I had a few tasks I wanted to complete when I used the app, some of them were one time (set up) tasks, and some tasks repeated whenever I used the app:


The problem became evident when I tried the second task on the list: when I first tried to set the alarms or notifications on the app, it took three or four tries to change any option. These tries included any time input (three tries just to set ONE alarm), and any other inputs. It drove me nuts! All I wanted to do was set up my notifications to remind me to mediate in the morning, yet the app made it extremely difficult for me to do so. I believed in the idea enough that I was willing to put up with pain for about a day.

This is the point where not being able to complete a task will turn an ordinary experience into an utterly horrible one for your user/customer.

Just a day, that's all it took.

The design was simple to understand and use (I had no problem finding what I was looking for). Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the simple design; in fact, I enjoyed it! But that couldn't even save it. My experience as a user was so painful that I'll never use the app again (I deleted it right away). Its a shame because it has promise, but being a customer/user I'm not going to struggle with an app that will make my life more difficult, and your customers/users are the same way.


Every product, whether it’s a website, app, product, or service, has the top tasks your customer/user wants to achieve while using it. For most business websites it’s information gathering. Whether that information is product, service, or location-based, it’s all about information regarding the business.

The information your customer is looking for has a HUGE influence in the layout of your design.

I'll give you an example: if you own a store, most likely the questions your customers want answered are twofold:

Knowing what tasks the customer wants answered, your home page design would feature this information ‘above-the-fold’ (visible when the page is loaded). However, this design feature may not be possible in all cases; having stock information or product lists on the home page may create clutter and difficulty to read, and may provide the customer with too much visible information. On the other hand, having manufacturers you supply up front, i.e. “We sell DeWalt products” is advantageous to your business and to your customer’s tasks.

Your design would provide useful information to help customers achieve their goals.

Identifying key-factors using tasks can easily snowball and expand into larger issues but I won't be covering those today. This post should give you a base knowledge of what tasks are, and how they affect you as a business. By looking at what your users/customer's wants are., you can create better products, whether its a website, app, or physical product. They can be a linch-pin in providing a successful and effective customer and user experience.

If you have any questions regarding this post, or regarding a project you have mulling around in your head, contact me (not just us, but me) at dmaddock@diesel9.com.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day :).