Finding your top tasks can help improve your digital experience

Focus on the tasks - not just adding more content


It may be tempting to keep adding content to a website because its easy to do (and ironically usually easier than removing content). But doing so without aligning the new content to your customers' tasks is more likely to harm than improve their user experience.

We regularly see in usability tests a problem of people unable to find what they seek because of irrelevant information and poorly labelled links.

Rather than focusing on an important metric such as the percentage of people able to do what they want to do, many organisations focus instead on the number of pages on our site, or the number of different pages visited on the site.

Most government sites allow loads of things to be done, which makes it hard to prioritise the content and functions that are most important to customers. These are the 'top tasks' - the ones that are important for many people and add great value to the site and user experience.

However, 'tiny tasks' which are relatively unimportant and that add far less value, often get in the way and can lead to competing links and calls to action.

Using an approach called top task management helps to identify and focus on the most important tasks to reduce complexity and improve customer experience.

A first step is to perform a top tasks identification, an innovative user research method developed by Gerry McGovern. This results in a poll that asks site visitors and other customers to select their most important tasks with the organisation.

And if some content needs to be removed, you have a solid basis to make those decisions based on the users' task priorities.

The effects can be significant. Liverpool City Council redesigned its site after identifying their customers' top tasks and reduced the site from 4,000 pages to 700. This delivered a 400% increase in people transacting online and substantially fewer support phone calls. This was a powerful result for a local council needing to save money by making better use of its website.

Top task management provides insightful results that can be applied to make a real difference to that very important performance metric – your customers' ability to do what they want on your site.

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