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Task list #72
created this issue from a note
in GOV.UK Design System Community Backlog
Jan 12, 2018
Thought I'd just weigh in with a tweak we have had to implement for this pattern.
We are currently using it in a case working system and we had an issue where if one agent went in and chose some options that meant the task was not complete, to other agents it looked like no work had been done at all.
So, we needed a way to differentiate between a section that had not been looked at and a section that could not be completed. So we have added a grey 'not complete' badge to say 'yes, i've looked at it, but it's missing some information' vs 'nobody has looked at this section at all'.
We just finished a mission in which we worked on a part of Digital Marketplace where users can search for cloud hosting, software and support. We redesigned an existing task list and put it at the start of the service: https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/buyers/direct-award/g-cloud/start
Things we knew before
Things we learned
Put a static version of task list at the start of the service
We had a hypothesis that task list would be a great way to explain how to use our service. To test, we replaced our old start page which had a search bar on it, with a task list.
This performed really well: it made the process transparent and cleared up a few confusions. We previously tried doing this with a start page pattern, but users found it annoying and a barrier to search.
Our static task list has no badges and is treated as static content rather than something users can interact with.
Put guidance alongside tasks
We modelled our task list around the idea that each step has a single task associated with it and some guidance. This is different to the task list in GOV.UK Elements, which assumes that each step consists of a bunch of tasks.
Doing it this way ensures that users can access guidance at all times but they don’t to tell us they read it each time they use it.
“Completed” and “Can’t start yet” worked really well. They helped users realise what to do next and a few times made them realise that the page they are looking at is interactive and changes as they walk throughout the process.
It’s not always obvious what the steps are
The hardest part of this work was getting the steps right – we tested 5 different iterations of the task list before we ended up with the 5 steps we have now.
The most interesting one here is step 3, which refers to a lengthy offline process which a lot of our users currently get wrong. Returning users found it annoying to have to confirm "I've done this" each time, so we had to tweak the way the step is explained and acted upon.
We went with “Confirm you have read and understood how to assess services”. This means that the step is about reading our guidance about a process, rather than completing the process, which can take weeks and has very blurry edges as to where it ends and begins.
Thought I'd log a couple issues we've seen In the Civil Money Claims project. The first of which has had quite serious consequences for the user involved, and led to a complaint.
'Completed' marker misleading
Users not completing all sections
Any thoughts on how to resolve these issues would be much appreciated. My current thinking is to try adding 'You must complete all tasks before continuing' to the top, which may help both issues if people actually read it.
Working on the "Apply for a Blue Badge" service.
We started testing with this in our prototype from last week. Overall, it's tested really well - it helps users realise how far along the application they are, and prepares them for what is coming up. We take users to the task list for the first time after they complete the "Check eligibility" section. 5 out of 5 users understood this on first land, they see the "Completed" tag and understand what the next section is that they need to complete.
One issue we did see though, was once a few tasks had been completed in the list, it becomes more difficult to see the sections that are incomplete. The page becomes more difficult to scan.
We are toying with the idea of a subtle "Not started" tag which is a light blue or something.
All users spotted and understood that they needed to hit "Submit and pay" at the end of the list for the application to be submitted.
We use the tasklist in the probate service.
Differences between ours and the beta tasklist
including why and how we've tackled it
Users can't complete items in any order. They can't for example pay before they've filled in the application.
Our service is in public beta and we have had a tasklist in our service for over a year.
Users will have been screened and created an account before they land on the tasklist.
For some users, there is a step in the process where they need to wait for someone else's response before being able to proceed to the next task. When this happens, we do not show the green button. Instead we include content below that section header informing the user that they can't proceed yet. We believe this causes users confusion until they read the content. We are working on a way to help users easily understand that they need to pause for now.
That's a really interesting issue – I wonder if it's to do with users recognition of the steps as things they need to do? That's what we struggled with the most on Digital Marketplace (#72 (comment))... eg maybe if "Submit" was more about "Submit response" and "Respond to claim" about "Prepare response" it could be more effective and clearer to users what the badges mean and refer to?
@PeteWilliams it seems like there may have been a number of things at work there. I have not used this pattern so can only add some thoughts.
I wonder if it is worth trying to reintroducing the green button for the final task? I.e. for 'Check and submit a response'. Might make it clearer how you finish. Has anyone tried this?
It also feels like there might be something about the first set of tasks being 'Before you start'. By being at the task list am I not already started?
We are using the task list pattern to design an online version of the C110A application, which is 22 pages long, where local authorities can apply for a care, supervision or emergency protection order.
Local authority solicitor or legal assistant can use this application to start the process to place a child at risk of harm under the care of the local authority.
Why we are using this pattern?
During user research we found users liked to see all the sections in the application in the form. One question per page pattern, shows just the first few questions. You must answer these before moving to the next section. It can be reassuring to know all the questions. So, you know what to do. It helps to know what information you need to gather if you know that questions.
If you can’t yet answer question 3 – maybe you are still gathering information – you can still answer question 8. One question per page pattern online forms progress linearly – you must answer one question before seeing the next. With the task list pattern you can answer question in any order.
With the task list pattern you can add information as and when you get it. For example, in international cases, you have to wait till you get important information. As it is not linear, you don’t have to enter all information in one go.
Users don’t need to go through all the questions in the application form and can skip entire sections like the international section. Users don’t need to waste time saying no to questions that they don’t need to answer and fill only sections they need to. Fewer pages to load and fewer buttons to click means that they end up saving time!
referenced this issue
Aug 28, 2018
We noticed screen reader users getting a bit frustrated by having to tab through every section each time they came back to the task list.
I've prototyped this solution to see if it helps things. A hidden link similar to the "Skip to main content" that takes the focus to the first incomplete link on the page.
@joelanman We have tested the task list pattern with 7 users in sprints 1-3 + 12 users in sprints 4-7 and all have completed the form without any problems. We will be doing more testing in private beta. I'll post the user research findings. Here is link to some of the things they are saying, https://realtimeboard.com/app/board/o9J_kzO16Xk=/ It is really working well for us! We have mostly made changes to the content, after user testing. We have had to change the order of questions, add and remove questions based on the user feedback. We are also using check your answers pattern in the end. Think, it really helps to have the check your answers as the last item on the task list. Users can review all there answers before submitting the application. Cheers, Sunil…
On Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 4:02 PM Joe Lanman ***@***.***> wrote: @sunilkathare <https://github.com/sunilkathare> thanks for sharing that! Do you have any findings from user research? Are you finding any of the same problems as some other teams? For example users not realising which sections they have to complete — You are receiving this because you were mentioned. Reply to this email directly, view it on GitHub <#72 (comment)>, or mute the thread <https://github.com/notifications/unsubscribe-auth/Ah0Hk7aGd3ErRz1cyfsW1XE025NiZM7Bks5ub7mYgaJpZM4Rckjo> .
Hi everyone - just thought that it might be useful to contribute to this chat. We've been working on Register as a Childminder for a while at Ofsted (in private beta) and have gone through multiple iterations of the task list. Our complicating factor is that we can have 6 legitimate statuses of a task (Done, Started, Waiting (to progress the task someone else has to do something), Flagged (a reviewer has flagged a problem they need to correct), To Do, and Do Last). The image below shows how we've created new statuses in a similar vein - although its not actually possible to have all of them shown at once, so take that with a pinch of salt.
In our testing these have all worked really well, and now that we have tweaked the colour scheme for some earlier contrast issues we would pass our accessibility audit (combining the statuses with alternative descriptions). Without being able to use the task list pattern, our application is very long and involves lots of different areas - so this brings them together nicely. We also have the challenge that tasks can be done in any order (except for the last one), and users frequently (want and need to) complete the form over multiple visits and over a long period of time. So having the task list as a check point of where everything is up to is incredibly useful for them.
We'd be really happy to share any of our findings with anyone that is interested, or to hear any other observations.
We've heard a lot of research to say that some users don't know they have to complete all tasks. It's also the case that screen reader users can't easily get an idea of their progress, whereas sighted users can get an impression by seeing the 'completed' tags.
So, we'd like to suggest a change and get some research on it:
Once a user has completed at least one task, add a summary line above the task list to say how many tasks have been completed.
"You have completed 2 of 6 tasks"
One potential problem with that is that, in our case at least, the number of tasks can be dynamic.
Have performed two sets of tests with this pattern being part of the flow. The numbering left user's thinking they had to do the tasks in order - which is not the case. Otherwise they had no issues with it.
From my POV I'd like to see how you intended the links to work once the user has Completed a section. Do they simply go back to same pages with the fields pre-filled?
@marthaboggins A couple of services in HMRC removed the numbers when the sections could be completed in any order. The order they appear in the list should be based on user research and what makes sense to users.
@phillipsr When a section is incomplete, the services I mentioned take people back through pre-populated versions of the screens they have seen. This was because partially completed check answers pages confused people and also to remove the task-list-inside-a-task-list feeling.
When a section is complete, when they go back in it is to a complete check answers section that allows them to change their answers. If this leads to a change in journey, they would be taken through the screens in the normal way and given a new check answers page at the end.
From what I understand, this has tested well with users in different services.
Hey @joelanman how does this work with sections? What counts as a task here, the numbered items or the sub-items within?
Has anyone considered whether
Our content designers have heard of some research suggesting that block caps present accessibility issues, but I don’t know whether that still applies for single words, as in this context?
The GOV.UK Style guide only suggests not using block caps for large amounts of text.
@frankieroberto Block capitals create readability issues on some level but most typography manuals mention entire sentences or paragraphs like the GOV.UK style guide says. But all capital letters are harder to read because we are less familiar with them, they have more uniform shapes and are harder to recognise. This is why we use sentence case and only capitalise words that should be capitalised.
I cannot think of a reason for putting the content in a status tag in all caps. If it is to make it stand out, I think the background already does that.
I think using normal sentence case, 19px content would be as if not more readable. I am not sure they need to be bold either.
Our service has tested very well with the task list, we haven't had any specific feedback about the tag styling, however, we did set it to sentence case. Our reason for this was that the shape of the letters helps users scan words more easily and capitalised letters doesn't really add anything.
Throughout user testing users intuitively knew what to do and which tasks to complete. While tasks can be done in any order, no one deviated from doing them in order.
A few participants commented they like the tasks x of x completed header and it gave them a quick summary of what was left to do.
No-one had any issues with the pay task having text saying "Once all tasks are complete, you can pay and submit your application" The task becomes active when all tasks are done.
We also had it tested by DAC this last week and there was only one issue and that was that the appropriate orange background wasn't being set on the links when focused. We have added the govuk-link class which has resolved this.