Last time, I discussed the importance of knowing your target population and their use environment. That first step identifies and specifies the population for inclusion. It is the means for including who should be included and excluded, and the environment where they work. For example, a targeted population for a particularly medical product could be surgical nurses who work in hospitals. The target population does not include all nurses or even all surgical nurses. In addition, the use environment in which the targeted population performs their work needs to be a part of the definitional equation.
Thus, the first step in the design process is defining the properties of the target population, determining who is and who is not part of that population. And include a complete description of their working environment, the environment where the product or service will be used. Field research will be necessary to establish the target population and its characteristics and the work environment. When this step is finished, the next step is perform additional research to establish the details of the work of interest and the environment in which it performed. (The means for collecting this information and form of the analytic product will be discussed in a later article.)
Know What Thy User Does and Where They Do It
The preconditions that lead to performing each task,
The steps required to perform a task, and
How frequently each is performed (in absolute terms and in relationship to other tasks.
Task analyzes: pertaining only to the product or service in development.
Breadth analysis, that consists of:
The number of tasks users would perform using the product or service in development
Their frequency of performance
Define how each task is performed
The level is detail required will vary with the complexity of the task
Each task analysis should include likely errors and the steps required to correct them.
There are a variety of means to represent task analyze. The representation method should be agreed on by the affected parties.
Task execution within the wider use environment
The tasks that users will perform with the product or service in development will be performed within a larger context.
The tasks within the wider context and how those other tasks relate to each other requires documentation.
The other tasks require a breath analysis. Rarely is a depth analysis required unless tasks are intermingled.