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Top tasks


A robust method that helps you zero in on what really matters to a majority of your users. Ultimately, it helps you identify a short list of 10 or fewer tasks that users are trying to get done on your site, as well as identify their less important tasks (i.e. “tiny tasks”).


Focusing on improving the experience of the top tasks your users have on your site means you will be serving most of your users well. This method is great for lean teams who need to know where to focus their energy when it comes to improving UX.

Time required

Around 12 weeks (assuming your project qualifies for fast-track PRA clearance).

How to do it

  1. Long task list: Create a long list (ex: 150-500) of tasks by consulting various data sources:
    • Behavior on the site - Google analytics, Site search queries (date range: 12 months)
    • Customer feedback channels - What are customers talking or asking about?
    • Stakeholder interviews
    • Review available past UX research
    • Comparative analysis of sites of similar products
    • Review every page of the site you are creating the task list for

    As you review the data, ask yourself what users may be trying to do on your site.

    Capture your tasks in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet should document the task, the general category it belongs to (this helps you organize your task list and makes it easier to trim the list later), the source of where you got that task, and notes.

  2. Short list: Trim the list to 70 or fewer tasks:
    • Consolidate duplicative tasks
    • Work with stakeholders to shorten the list to no more than 70 tasks and finalize wording of tasks (consult task wording best practices). This can be done with collaborative workshops using a whiteboard tool.

    Plan for it to take 3-5 weeks to get to a final short list.

  3. Survey: Get feedback from users. Ask users to vote on their most important tasks via survey. Collect other relevant data to cross analyze top tasks with those data points (for example, ask participants how long they have used the product. That way you can determine top tasks of new users vs. seasoned users).

Additional resources

Considerations for use in government

Top tasks works best with 100 or more survey participants, so you will need PRA clearance. See if your project qualifies for the fast-track PRA clearance process.