“This process is wonderful practical medicine” (John Blackmore, IBM)

We used this system successfully for three software divisions at IBM. As you may imagine, each was a complex business with 100s of products and 1000s of opinions of “What people want.” This survey was a great leveler. We gathered over 500 randomized responses per software division (with geographical spread) and quickly determined the top tasks from a list of about 90.

A few things we did that others may consider:

  1. Aggregate tasks into groups. A number of specific tasks really boiled down to the question: “Show me how it works.” (One of our top three tasks)
  2. Infer the character of the “herd”. When you see the top tasks, you can make some judgements on where the bulk of your visitors are in a buying cycle. (Hint…they are not at the “What is reporting?” level)
  3. Do studies for two or more divisions if you can. You will likely find out that parts of your business that think they have “special” customers and needs really don’t. All web visitors are generally looking for the same things.

This process is wonderful practical medicine. However, you will find that people still chase fads in design rather than the real needs of visitors. Back up your Top Tasks information with constant demonstrations of click data. The Top Tasks process tells you what people want; Click data will confirm it.

Good luck with driving organizational change that will matter to your web visitors.

John Blackmore, Digital Marketing Manager, IBM