how to write tasks
for usability tests

  • start with a simple task to build confidence
  • use the user's language and not the company's language when writing the tasks
  • the tasks should provide test participants with a problem to solve that will simulate a natural interaction with your website. they should resemble scenarios rather than simply words to look for
  • scenarios should be short; trim any detail that is not necessary.
    for example: "you are holding a dinner party this Saturday. you want to find out what you need to prepare vegetable lasagne". rather than: "find a vegetable lasagne recipe on this site"
  • tasks should be: action based; specific and measurable; realistic and relevant
  • the tasks should represent the most common user goals and the most important conversion goals for your business
  • choose the correct language so that you don’t give away the answer in the question. for example, avoid choosing the same words in your task description as those that are used in the interface. this may cause participants to simply focus on similarly phrased items
  • make the tasks independent from each other. present the tasks in random order to avoid bias
  • prepare a maximum of 10 tasks per test but ensure that they cover all the areas that you want to investigate

see the example below:

these tasks were prepared to test the website of one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in the US, selling both in stores and online.

  1. you believe your laptop has some problems and you want to know if they can repair it

  2. you recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S6 cell phone and you want to use it to listen to music while jogging. you need to get an armband suitable for your new phone

  3. your phone contract is going to expire in a few months and you are thinking about getting an iPhone6. you want to find out the price with different carriers (eg. AT&T, Verizon)

  4. your beloved Amazon Kindle e-reader is a bit old and you are thinking about getting the more recent Kindle Paperwhite instead. you want to read some customer reviews first

  5. you are really impressed by the new SONY 4k Ultra HD TV that you saw in a TV commercial. you want to find out how much the 43" version costs

  6. you found some old CDs you want to listen to, but your CD player is broken and you need to get a new one

  7. you recently moved to a new city and would like to have Skype calls with your friends and family but your fairly old laptop doesn't have a webcam. you want to buy one priced between 20 to 30 USD only

  8. you need a new dishwasher and you are thinking about getting one online. you want to find out about the home delivery and installation costs

  9. it's the beginning of summer and you remember you need to get a new air conditioner filter to replace the old one

  10. you are thinking about buying a PlayStation4, but you want to find out first if you can trade-in your old PlayStation3

pdf file - how to write tasks for usability tests

selected services:
usability testing