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!
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.
Cheers @dashouse - our most notable iterations through research were:
We're also due to introduce "Save and return" imminently, which will vastly improve the service and goes hand-in-hand with the task list.
I have to say the task list has been one of the most well-received/understood patterns I've ever seen. Well done to everybody involved.
The patterns team at GDS (inc me) did some exploration of the task list 2 years ago. It wasn't finished, but here's some screen shots which others might find useful.
Some aims / things we were looking at:
We've added a task list for our latest round of testing.
Notes on implementation:
Things I want to try next:
I've been involved in a couple of services now that have used a link below the continue button to allow users to return to the task list. This presents two questions though:
@grahamharper I added this link below the continue button, which takes the user 'up' on level. So where they're just in a wizard it takes them back to the task list. Where they're in a nested thing, it takes them to the next category up.
It's something I feel should be there - but didn't see users use it much - I think we'd have to craft a careful task to see if users saw it.
Edit - actually we did see one user use it when they got stuck on something.
Thanks for sharing!
Any rationale about your chosen location for the link? i.e. why at the bottom of the page as opposed to the top?
Thinking out loud about the reading order here, when the user gets to the bottom of the page, is returning to a level up a likely choice they'll make? I guess maybe in a documentation page they're done reading and maybe want to go back to an index page to read something else. If they've just filled in a form, it might be an unlikely choice to make?
A few reasons:
Thus for me it's less about 'will they need this action when they're done with the page' and more that it's an uncommon action and I don't want to give it too much priority or confuse the page. With that in mind, it could have gone in the right hand column - but thus far I've avoided putting anything there.
It's essentially similar to a breadcrumb - but as my service already has back links (which are more commonly used) having both breadcrumbs and backlinks didn't seem right. If someone came up with a design that worked well with both breadcrumbs and back links we'd certainly consider it.
For this round, we tested with 4 officers - none of whom had much prior knowledge of our service.
Notes on implementation:
Things we may try later:
Completing multiple sections at once
In a future version, whilst in one section we may ask details other details which end up completing other sections. For example - whilst adding details of products, we may ask if they have test results for those products. We can then mark the test results section as complete. I'll need to think how I can display this.
We had a lot of problem with users not recognizing the task list pattern as such so we decided to add some "TO DO" labels, at the moment we have 4 different statuses:
It has tested extremely well with users
We used a modified version of the Task List indicator 'tags' in the UK Emissions Trading Registry project. We changed the appearance of the indicators based on feedback from user testing. When lots of these indicators appeared together in a table two things tended to happen:
We redesigned the buttons and made the following changes:
When these were tested, users no longer commented on the buttons being 'dazzling' and were able to accurately identify the different types of items when asked. The 'urgent' styling helped them quickly identify things that needed their immediate attention amidst a larger table of mixed items.
Prototype and code available here:
Our team also used a modified version of the Task List indicator 'tags' in the DfE Apply to Convert a School to an Academy project.
In user testing, users told us they felt 'overwhelmed' by the list of tags. One user described it as 'garish'. Similar to the ETS project I've referred to in a previous comment on this thread, I think it's the bold text and high-contrast that gives this element a tendency to dazzle when lots of them are presented together.
We borrowed from the UK Emissions Trading Registry project and developed a set of icons to replace the defaults:
The 'Completed' state actually is technically WCAG AA compliant, but uses a lighter font weight of 100. Given that this state uses a combination of grey text and a lighter font weight it requires further testing with a range of people with different visual impairments to ensure it's readable.
The visual hierarchy of the indicators aims to give 'Not started' sections priority over completed or in-progress sections that are less important to the user since we assume they have these in-hand.
An example of these indicators working together is shown here:
Presenting data within each task list 'section'
When clicking on a link to one of the sections, the user sees a page with the section questions presented in the style of a Check your Answers page. This is so that users can see in advance what information they will be asked for, and see answers previously given so they can more easily review responses provided by other collaborators on the application form.
When we followed the 'Check your Answers' pattern exactly, users missed the 'change' link on the right hand side of a question, and even when they did see it found it confusing if they hadn't already provided any information to 'change'.
Instead we provided a secondary button to instruct users to start a section which would take them into the page containing the questions to answer. After completing the questions on the page and returning, the button is replaced with a link 'Change your answers'. Users understood what they needed to do on these pages and no longer missed the buttons or links to navigate to the question pages.
'Secondary' style buttons were used instead of the primary button style because in many cases we needed to present several pages of questions like this. A large number of primary buttons overwhelmed users, and it also distracted from the primary button at the bottom of the page which is used to return the 'task list' page showing the sections that need to be completed. By making sure this was always the only primary button on the page, we found this was the main way users chose to navigate back to the major sections in the application form.
When and how to mark tasks as complete
I thought I'd share my thinking around when and how to mark tasks as complete.
When to mark a ‘basic’ task as complete
If a task consists of a list of questions—either on the same page or a number of pages—you can mark the question as complete as soon as those questions have been answered.
When the user clicks on a completed task you can show them a slightly adapted check answers page a bit like this:
When to mark an ‘add to list’ task as complete
On Apply for teacher training, for example, we let users apply for up to 3 courses (and they have to choose at least 1).
There are 2 main approaches I can think of for when and how to mark this sort of task as complete. (Apply for teacher training currently uses option 2)
Option 1: automatically mark ‘add to list’ tasks as complete as soon as the task is technically complete
This option works like a ‘basic’ task in that as soon as it’s technically complete (or valid), it’s marked as complete.
For Apply for teacher training, the task would be marked as complete as soon as the user chooses 1 course.
But if the user gets distracted and intended to add a second course, some users could forget to do that because the task is marked as complete like this:
I think most users will remember to check their answers, either by clicking into each task or checking everything on a separate review page for the entire application.
Users on the Apply for teacher training service will see the review page when they click the ‘Check your answers before submitting’ task at the bottom of the task list like this:
See how the review page highlights incomplete tasks.
We could highlight tasks that are not as complete as they could be. For example, if the user can choose another 2 courses.
(Note: Apply for teacher training has a task which lets users add as many qualifications as they like. It’s probably a bad idea to prompt users to add additional qualifications just because the system recognises they can.)
Option 2: let users explicitly mark ‘add to list’ tasks as complete
Alternatively, you could let users mark tasks as complete so the system doesn’t have to infer it. But this could cause the following problems:
1. Users might be confused by the inconsistency
Having a mix of automatically and explicitly completed tasks could be confusing due to the inconsistency. (We’ve not got any evidence of this to my knowledge.)
Alternatively, we could also get users to mark ‘basic’ tasks as complete. But that seems unnecessary.
2. Users might forget to mark the task as complete
The user needs to know they have to explicitly mark tasks as complete. Depending on the implementation, users might forget. (More on this at the end of this comment.)
3. Users might worry that they won’t be able to make changes after marking the task as complete
The task list pattern lets users change their answers up until submission.
But asking users to mark the task as complete could make users worry that they won’t be able to make changes later. (More on this at the end of this comment.)
Possible ways to let users mark ‘add to list’ tasks as complete
Use a checkbox and two calls to action
Currently Apply for teacher training lets users mark ‘add to list’ tasks as complete using a checkbox:
Our research shows that several users (both with and without disabilities) click the checkbox and then click ‘Back to application’ in the top left without clicking the green continue button. This fails to mark the task as complete as the user intended.
Possible additional downsides are that users:
Use radio buttons and 1 call to action
Alternatively, we could use radio buttons like this:
I think this design would help users:
As part of our work to improve this pattern we have recently reviewed the statuses used on all the examples posted here.
We found that:
Because of this we'd like to propose that people should:
HMRC did quite a bit of work looking into the status tags as part of this pattern https://design.tax.service.gov.uk/hmrc-design-patterns/status-tags-in-task-list-pages/
The content style guide says to avoid negative contractions. Is there any reason you propose to use 'Can't start yet' over 'Cannot start yet'?
how does the 'can't start yet' information work for screen readers? I'm curious as to how the page is marked up to make it that clear (is there hidden text after '0 of 3 sections' saying that they cannot start 2)?
There was some discussion on Slack recently about implied hierarchy when using the status tags in this pattern. I had the same issue and ended up going minimum viable product, stripping the tags back to plain old text. This solved some readability issues, some issues where users went to click the tags, thinking they were buttons, and the fact that the blue background, high contrast tags look more important than outlines or tags with a different colour.
Here's the pattern that @lisadunn577 and I employed on our previous service to great effect, now in as an experimental pattern in the HMRC Design Patterns: https://hmrc-design-system-preview.herokuapp.com/hmrc-design-patterns/status-tags-in-task-list-pages/ Doesn't look all that glamorous, but it tested beautifully with users.
For a bit more detail, I wrote up a case study that expands on the iterations we made and fleshes out some of the rationale.
Summary of conversation on x-gov slack 28-04-2021
Some Assistive Technologies have started removing the list role from lists that don’t have markers (bullets / numbers), so in some cases you do now have to set
An accessibility audit at the Department for Education (DfE) recommended the use of
Semantically it feels more appropriate to represent the task list as a list of steps that the user needs to work through, rather than representing the steps as key-value pairs.