Top Tasks Training

Top tasks: Learn by doing

Learn how to use the Top Tasks approach while:

  • Identifying the top tasks of your customers.
  • Measuring the performance of the top tasks.
  • Creating an intuitive classification and navigation.

What you will get:

  • Actionable top tasks data and designs.
  • Training in how to implement top tasks on your own.
  • Comprehensive guidelines and training materials.
  • Tools and templates.

What it typically costs:

  • Top Tasks identification: €12,000 – €25,000
  • Task Performance Indicator: €15,000 – €24,000
  • Customer architecture (classification): €11,000 – €22,000

Using our materials and input from experienced top tasks consultants, your organization learns how to apply the tools and techniques used in over 400 organizations worldwide, including NetApp, Cisco, Toyota, Tetra Pak, Microsoft, European Union, and the Canadian government.

Task identification

The first phase is to identify customers’ top tasks. This stage uses our unique voting technique to enable customers to tell you in precise, statistical terms the top tasks they wish to complete when they come to your website.

The following are the steps in task identification:

  1. Defining scope
  2. Gathering tasks: The Longlist
  3. Shortlisting
  4. Survey design
  5. Voting
  6. Analyzing and presenting

We will guide you through each step of the process in online sessions using written materials, practical exercises and comprehensive case studies. We monitor each step of the process to ensure quality standards are always being adhered to. Assessments at the end of each step must pass quality gates before the project can move to the next stage.

What is involved in each of the steps

Defining scope

  • Who in your organization should be involved in task identification. How to put together the right team. We have found that a multidisciplinary, multi-functional team is critical for success.
  • Defining customer and how to get them to vote. A critical decision. We will ensure you make the right choices.
  • Defining the scope for the task environment: Another critical decision. For example, are we asking ‘what matters most to you when buying a car on our website?’ or what matters most to you when buying a car?’.
  • Quality gate: Team, customer and scope.

Gathering tasks: The Longlist

  • Defining what a task is: How to get everybody on the same page in thinking about customer tasks.
  • How to use the task collection template. As a result of hundreds of task gathering and shortlisting sessions, we have developed a robust template and set of guidelines that will ensure you get the best final list possible.
  • Sources for tasks: We will guide you through all the potential sources of customer tasks.
  • Quality gate: Comprehensive longlist of tasks.


The hardest and most difficult part. Get the shortlist wrong and the whole process is undermined. In getting from the longlist to the shortlist, you will be supported by truly experienced professionals. Here is the type of things we train you on during the shortlisting process:

  • Administrative shortlisting versus full shortlisting sessions. Why we need two types of shortlisting and what needs to be done in each one.
  • Cleaning up task wording.
  • Removing or merging overlaps, duplicates mothers and children.
  • Removing brand names, products, departments and subjects.
  • Removing dirty magnets (wordings that can have multiple meanings).
  • Removing audience and demographics.
  • Removing formats and channels.
  • Dealing with ego tasks. These are tasks that the organization loves, but it is highly unlikely the customer has any interest in them.
  • Running final reviews with individual stakeholders.
  • Getting the level of importance right: Not too high, not too low.
  • Quality gate: a quality shortlist.

Survey design

  • Designing the top task question. This is a unique question design. It is essential that it is got exactly right.
  • Agreeing the category questions.
  • Team / stakeholder survey. We show you how to create a copy of the final customer survey that you will get internal stakeholders to vote on.
  • Quality gate: a properly designed survey.


  • Methods and numbers. Agreeing a statistically reliable number of customers for the vote. How best to write the text for requesting people to vote.
  • Incentives and prizes. When they are appropriate and what the implications are.
  • Quality gate: Statistically reliable number of customer voting.

Analyzing and presenting

  • Chart and tables: How to understand the charts and tables.
  • Interpreting overall results.
  • Category question detailed analysis.
  • Presentation of results. How to deliver an effective presentation of results.
  • Quality gate: Passing a dry-run presentation.

Task Performance Indicator

Once you have identified your customers’ top tasks, the question becomes: How well are they performing? The Task Performance Indicator (TPI) will help you find it out. TPI is a remote measurement process that provides a defined process to measure how well your top tasks are performing. A representative sample of customers will be given examples of top tasks and asked to try and complete those tasks on the website or app. The TPI gives you reliable data on success rates and task time while identifying key causes of poor customer experience.

The following are the steps in TPI:

  1. Choosing tasks and customers
  2. Creating task instructions
  3. Measurement session set up
  4. Running a measurement session
  5. Analyzing and presenting results

How-to sessions and practical exercises using case study material will help you master each step. We will work with you to ensure you get the best possible result with quality gates at each step of the TPI.

Choosing tasks and customers

  • Selecting top tasks: We will train you how to select 8-12 of the top tasks.
  • Selecting customers to measure: We’ll help you decide what profile the customers should be.
  • Quality gate: Appropriate list of top tasks selected. Appropriate profile of customers agreed.

Task instructions

  • Creating task instructions. Getting the task instruction wording right is essential to the success of the TPI. We have a comprehensive set of guidelines for doing this.
  • Creating customer journeys, the paths that we expect people to go on to complete the tasks.
  • First review of draft task instructions and customer journeys.
  • Second review.
  • Third review.
  • Agreeing target times and start page. We need to estimate how long it should take to complete each task, as well as agreeing where each task will start from.
  • Quality gate: Task instructions, customer journeys and target times agreed.

Measurement session set-up

  • Data input tool. Training on how to use our data input tool, which you will be given and can use on your own in future TPIs.
  • Facilitator guide. A detailed facilitator guide which we will work with you to customize to your needs.
  • Customer journey document.
  • Online meeting service and video editing. Selection of the meeting service and video editing software.
  • Quality gates: Competence in using data input tool. Customized facilitator guide. Customer journey document. Online meeting service and video editing software selected.

Running a measurement session

  • How to run a measurement session. We will carefully bring you through the whole process of running a TPI session with a customer.
  • First practice session.
  • Second practice session.
  • Monitored dry run with two-to-three real customers. If appropriate, we will work with you to adapt tasks instructions and customer journeys based on these dry run sessions.
  • Review of marking. After each session with real customers, we will review the mark you gave (success, failure, etc.) to ensure it is correct.
  • Quality gate: A pass for running a TPI session. Proper marking of TPI sessions.

Analyzing and presenting results

  • Processing results and videos.
  • How to analyze results, identify patterns, prepare videos.
  • Joint analysis of the two worst performing tasks. You will analyze the two worst performing tasks to identify the top three issues affecting their performance, as well as develop key recommendations to improve performance. Independently, one of our consultants will do the same. By comparing findings, we will develop a common approach to analysis.
  • Analysis of remaining tasks.
  • Review of final presentation. We will provide you with a template for the presentation and work with you to ensure that the presentation is delivered in the best possible way.
  • Quality gate: Competent analysis of task performance. Reasonable alignment of findings and recommendations.

Ideally, the TPI becoming an ongoing exercise that you carry out every six to twelve months. It becomes a key input in helping you continuously improve the customer experience.

Top Tasks Classification (Customer Architecture)

In designing websites and apps since 1994, we have found that confusing menus and links are the number one cause of task failure. We have many years of experience, working on some of the most complicated websites and apps in the world. We will bring to bear our experience to bear to give you a thorough grounding in how to design a truly intuitive navigation and classification for your website or app.

You will learn about the key principles of navigation design:

  • Momentum: Making sure the primary navigation path helps people move forward.
  • Unity: Keeping a unified navigation structure rather than spreading bits of navigation across the environment.
  • Twins: Typically, there are two dominant customer journeys for a particular task. Making sure to design for these.
  • Minimalism: Stripping away all forms of navigation, and other distractions, that are not focused on the task at hand.
  • Clarity: The number one issue in navigation design is confusing menus and links. Making sure that all navigation words are clear and precise.
  • Fidelity: A link is a promise. Making sure that navigation links keep their promises.
  • Magnetism: Designing for clean magnetism (the link draws clicks for what it is supposed to draw clicks for) and avoiding dirty magnetism (the link does not draw clicks for what it is not supposed to draw clicks for).

Sorting: Getting customers to group tasks

  • Selecting tasks for sorting: Deciding which tasks customers will be asked to sort based on Top Tasks data. Typically, in the region of 30 tasks will be selected.
  • Agreeing customer category questions: Deciding on what profile and number of customers are required to do the sort.
  • Carrying out the sort: Using online sorting service, getting customers to individually put the tasks into classification groups.
  • Creating a hypothetical classification from the sort: Analyzing the results. How to spot classification patterns. Preparing a hypothetical classification.

Task instructions

  • Creating task instructions: Creating at least one task instruction for each of the tasks that were used in the sort.
  • Based on a set of guidelines, you will create a set of draft instructions. We will go through a three-stage review process with you to ensure that the task instructions are of the highest quality.
  • Mapping the task instruction paths. For example, ‘For task instruction A, they should click on classification X.’

Round 1 testing

Now we have everything we need to test the hypothetical classification. Typically, it takes three rounds of testing to achieve a truly intuitive classification and navigation.

  • Designing the test: Based on guidelines, preparing the online test environment.
  • Carrying out test: Monitoring the progress of the test.
  • Analyzing classification results: How to interpret that charts and tables that are output from the analysis. Identifying solutions to reduce the failure rate. This is where much of the skill and expertise resides. Based on years of experience, we will show you what sort of patterns to look out for.
  • Refining classification hypothesis: Where appropriate, making changes to the classification, the task instructions and/or the task instruction paths.

Round 2 testing

  • Carrying out test.
  • Analyzing classification results.
  • Refining classification hypothesis.

Round 3 testing

  • Carrying out test.
  • Analyzing classification results.
  • Sign off classification.