Quantitative researchTop tasks, user and usage data are a powerful combination

  • Identified the top tasks for users of three sites with five different audiences.
  • Results used to prioritize work as well as inform design and ensuing research.
Problem definition

Public site: Two different audiences (prospects and clients) competed for time and effort, so team wanted to identify what each audience needed from the site to help prioritize the work.

Careers site: Leaders shared various needs for redesign of site but needed to find out what real candidates wanted.

Secure accounts site: Siloed teams under multiple leaders worked on parts of the site, separately. Designers wanted to know what users really cared about to help focus their time.


Top tasks methodology*

Two page top tasks summary report with blurred out text, bar and pie chart

Implemented top tasks methodology and performed the following.

  1. Interviewed subject matter experts and stakeholders and performed competitive review to identify possible tasks.
  2. Created a short list of tasks and reviewed with stakeholders.
  3. Sent survey to 385 or more respondents of a representative audience per study. (Requested and managed client lists. Procured prospect, student and corporate candidate panels. Worked with internal market research team to use experienced advisor panel.)
  4. Correlated survey responses with web analytics and client data, when relevant.
  5. Directed statistical data analysis.
  6. Created sumary and unabridged report templates and reports.
  7. Presented results to many audiences.
  8. Incorporated findings into future research studies.
  9. Measured delivery of top tasks in additional studies.

Results are proprietary, but the impacts on the various teams, follow.

Public site

Prospects are clients (of some company).

  • Prospects and clients top tasks overlap, resulting in focused priorities for the team.
  • Identified a difference in confidence managing finances between prospects and clients.
  • Survey spurred further research about presenting costs information.

Careers site

Sharing results with recruiters, and then leaders of recruiters, increased value placed on user needs.

  • Certain candidates have similar needs.
  • Priorities of experienced advisor recruits change with age and experience.

Secure accounts site

Clients want to know how well their accounts are doing (of course).

  • Respondents use the site as indicated by their top task choices (web analytics match top tasks).
  • Learned effect of total household investible assets on which task was chosen.

*For more information on the top tasks methodology by Gerry McGovern, please see:

A List Apart article: What Really Matters: Focusing on Top Tasks by Gerry McGovern - April 21, 2015

Book: Top tasks - a how-to guide by Gerry McGovern - October 08, 2018


melanie at melanieclarke dot com