Top Tasks Management involves continuously improving the top tasks of your customers.
"Two years ago we introduced the concept of top tasks," the Socitm Better Connected 2012 report on UK websites states. "Last year we tested it out. This year we have made a full commitment to a new methodology for assessing council websites."
For a number of years now I have worked with Martin Greenwood and his team at Socitm to help nurture and develop the Top Tasks approach. The work Martin does is very impressive but equally impressive is what the UK government is doing to deliver better services to its citizens using the Web.
The UK government is thankfully light on using the Web to attempt to brainwash its citizens with tired and counterproductive propaganda of smiling pictures of politicians or grand, empty statements of how much government is doing for its citizens. You don't talk about doing on the Web. You DO.
Socitm has long recognized that websites are about helping people do things. That's why they have embraced the Top Tasks approach. "The concept focuses on what customers need," according to the 2012 report. "We believe that people come to council websites to find a piece of information or complete a transaction. In other words, they come to complete a task.
"The website should be designed around this need," the report continues. "It should be easy and quick to do. From the organisation's viewpoint, it makes sense to ensure that the highest number of people can achieve this. In other words, they need to know what the most frequently used tasks are and design the site to respond to these tasks, which we call top tasks.
"Failure to achieve this leads to costly and avoidable contact through other channels, principally the phone. More importantly, it creates dissatisfaction and frustration through wasting the customer's time."
The customer's time is the most valuable resource. Microsoft found that slowing the download of a search results page by 2 seconds on their Bing search engine results in a 4% reduction in ad sales. 1 in 4 people will abandon a page that takes longer than 4 seconds to load.
Web strategy should focus on the customer and their time, not the content or technology. Giving a website to a content professional is like giving a pub to an alcoholic. We found with one council that the less important the task, the more content that was being produced for it. The more important the task was, the LESS content that was being produced. The website was being flooded with low level Tiny Tasks content because that was what the ego of the organization demanded.
Top Tasks is about a relentless pruning of everything that is not essential. It is about basing your management model around task completion data. The citizen comes to the Web to DO and the only measure of success that matters is whether they were able to DO in the fastest possible time.