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Top tasks

Use this activity to agree and focus on the top tasks a user is trying to complete on your service or website.

Why understand top tasks of users?


Listing top tasks will make you think, discuss and prioritise the main reasons users are visiting your website. Prioritise these tasks to meet the greatest number of user needs.

Prep timePeopleRun time
2 hours2 to 154 hours

Preparation

Find what works best for you and your team. You might want to group around a blank wall space and list the tasks on post-it notes and stick them to the wall.

The scope of your top tasks activity depends on your team's needs, time and budget. For a large scale project, it’s best to get guidance from an experienced user researcher, service designer or specialist in this area.

Materials

  • post-it notes
  • markers
  • wall space, butcher's paper or a whiteboard

How to discover top tasks


Step 1: Research user tasks

Use information you already have to find the top tasks for people using your website. Or use data from:

  • frontline staff feedback
  • surveys to staff and users
  • social media
  • interviews with stakeholders to find out what they consider to be user top tasks
  • similar websites (to see their top tasks)
  • site behaviour analysis
  • search analysis

You may not have content for top tasks yet. Any research into your website analytics may show the current state, but not what might be missing.

Step 2: List your tasks

Create a list of all the website tasks, for example:

  • lodge a tax return
  • register a business
  • contact the department

Keep tasks broad, gender-neutral and free of demographics. Avoid bias.

Your first top tasks list will likely be very long. If you are short on time and people, create a list for a section of your website.

Step 3: Refine your task list

You can refine your list with your stakeholders. Reduce it to under 100 tasks by removing:

  • duplicates
  • high-level

Step 4: Get users to vote

Once you have created your top task shortlist send it out to users to vote. You can do this by emailing a survey to a group of users. Ask them to vote on their top 5 tasks in order of preference.

This exercise will generally reveal patterns and show the most important tasks. It will help you prioritise content development and improvement to make sure users can complete these tasks.

top user tasks
This pie chart is divided into the main things users want to do on your agency’s website. The segments include the top 5 user tasks, next 10 user tasks, lower priority, and tiny votes. The focus here is on the top 5 things users need to do on our website.

Follow up


Assess your top tasks regularly through content testing, usability testing and analytics. There are many ways to measure content success.

Maintain your top tasks list so that it is prioritised correctly.

Create a visual of the top tasks your users need to do when interacting with your agency online.

References