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Measuring top tasks with performance indicators at Cisco


MIke Atyeo (Neo Insight) and Bill Skeet (Cisco)

Cisco is a top player in a complex, rapidly-changing and ultra-competitive industry.

Research shows that ease of doing business with a tech company is a huge driver for brand loyalty and future purchase, therefore, Cisco’s website content must reflect not only a large and evolving portfolio of products and services, but also provide a great user experience (UX) by helping customers find self-support content for thousands of products. The research reveals opportunities for improvement through quantitative and qualitative analysis of target audiences’ task performance.

Evaluating the user experience

In this session, Mike Atyeo from Neo Insight, and Bill Skeet from Cisco, described the process they use to improve the user experience and website content strategy.

To understand what is going on in digital spaces around a brand, they use a triangulation of three strategic areas:

  1. Voice of the customer – obtained through monthly or quarterly customer satisfaction surveys and social media channels. This details what customers are telling you, however, what they say and what they do are not always the same.
  2. Applied data science – obtained through site statistics. These metrics can reveal patterns and trends but don’t tell you why customers act a certain way.
  3. Behavioural research – obtained through task studies: usability testing and participatory studies.

The triangulation of these areas provides a fuller picture of the usability of your website and more often than not, what users care about is different from what organizations focus on. If an organization has limited resources, they need to focus on the most important tasks of their users and apply relative resources to these tasks. Keep in mind that about 5% of a web’s content creates 25% of the overall value to a site.

Using Task Performance Indicators (TPI) as a tool for continuous improvement

To facilitate continuous improvement in usability we need to be able to:

  1. identify top tasks
  2. measure top tasks
  3. improve and continue measurement

 But, what is a task?

A task is what a user comes to the site to do. Cisco assigns a TPI to each task based on a formula netting a score. The task study is like a usability test where you watch users do your top tasks in a facilitated, recorded environment. The process nets a quantitative score as well as qualitative data that build a strong picture of the user experience. The process lets you see exactly where a user has a problem. While fixing the problem, the team monitors the TPI score to see if the problem is indeed being fixed.

When you fix a problem new ones may be revealed, so coordination and collaboration between teams  is essential.

About the author
Claudia Palomino
Digital Communications Certificate at SFU focusing on lead generation marketing and Pay-Per-Click advertising. Good yogi and bad hiker. Dog lover.
~ Claudia Palomino ~

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