Sunday, March 9, 2008

Class of March 6th: Notes

Class schedule: Topics

March 6th

Task analysis

March 13th: Structure

March 20th: Jamie away on vacation

March 27th: Document plan due

April 3rd: Project discussion: Jamie will answer questions about the project

April 15th: Project due

Task Analysis

While you build the audience matrix, you are beginning to tell stories about the user of the technology.

Scenarios: what is the dramatic story that you going to tell about the audience. It shows how a persona in a certain setting works towards goals. The design community recognizes that conflict is part of the story but they focus on goals that are present in the scenario.

Persona: is not usually one real person but is the amalgam of users in your research

People who have roles within a setting and want to achieve certain goals

Goals: Can be defined as success and accomplishments.

What is the goal of the persona?


Example 1

  • First year university students: what role do they play?
    1. New users/novices
  • What is the goal of the user?
    1. To find some books for an assignment
  • What is the setting?
    1. The York library online catalogue (access from either home or the library)


  • Now that you have the persona, setting and the goals, you can tell the story (flush out any conflicts that get in the way of the goals)
  • Creating a story allows you to have a wealth of samples to understand your audience (put into a form that gives you a picture)
  • Could our persona actually accomplish the goals
    • Some people learn with the help of examples (if you choose this option, have examples that directly transfer into the text)
    • Provide key scenarios we’ve identified and mention that in the document plan; persona, settings, and goals.
    • Generalize from the specific to write good instructions for your audience

A good process should

o List all of the goals that the audience have

o Decompose the goals into tasks or procedures; do they have a title, subject

o Tasks also have subtasks

o Define the audience; what do they know?

o What roles do users play and what are their goals?

o What kinds of conflicts do they get into?

o What do they need to do to succeed in achieving their goals?

o What tasks do they follow to accomplish goals?

o Find a representative number of scenarios in order to document for the audience


Example 2

Signing up for a new bank account


Someone opening a small business bank account, sole proprietor


Business roles: walks into a bank to open a bank account


Certain subtasks: get an appointment, discuss what kinds of accounts are available, and maybe get a line of credit.


What does Jamie want in the document plan?

  1. Audience analysis
    1. Descriptions, scenarios, and examples

  1. Technical description(not a long one)
    1. Describe what is it that you are documenting
    2. Describe the kinds of problems that the audience encounter
    3. What does the system achieve to do? What does it fail to do?

In this process, sometime you might be asked to write a technical description for a system that is not built. In this case you will describe

o your perspective of the system

o the scope of the technology and its uses from a manufacturer’s perspective

o the key features from a manufacturer’s perspective

  1. Task analysis
    1. Take the goals that you listed and decompose them in their constituent tasks
  2. Table of Contents(TOC)
    1. Never have a goal that starts with “Using …” or “Working with …”
    2. Tasks and goals are actions and therefore should be active and not passive
    3. You can group by goals to get information
  3. Document Specs
    1. What type are you going to use?
    2. How will you use white space/ leading?
    3. What kinds of graphics and design are going to use?

If you want, you can present a mock to show what it is going to look like.

This document plan should not be more than 10 pages.

o Audience analysis takes the larger part of the plan

o Task analysis should be 2nd longest part

o Technical description should be from ½ to 1 page

o Once you have a document plan with TOC then it is easy to guess the number of pages that your project is going to have. In a real life project, you can also estimate how many people you need, how long it is going to take, and how much it is going to cost. This way the work can be professional and efficient.


  • Communicating with users will be effective if you know the physical surroundings and the position of the user
    • Is there something physical that can get in the way while the user is accomplishing goals?
  • Keep in mind the limits of the technology while writing the instructions

Example 3: Write instructions for someone learning how to walk.

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