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6.831 • User Interface Design and Implementation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Fall Semester, 2006

AC2: User & Task Analysis

The point of this activity is to get some practice doing user and task analysis for a design problem. In 2016, the MBTA starts its long-awaited project of, once again, renovating the Boston subway system. Your design firm has been contracted to design the fare system. Here are some of the components of the current fare system, which you've hopefully had a first-hand opportunity to observe:

Ticket machine Charlie Ticket Turnstile

Assuming that Boston and its population have remained largely unchanged since 2006, perform user and task analysis for this problem.

1 User Analysis

Write down some of the major user classes of the Boston subway fare system. Try to find at least 5 groups. For each group, list some of its typical distinguishing characteristics. An example has been filled in to get you started.

User Group Characteristics
Commuters age 18-65; frequent users, morning and evening, during busy rush hour; time-pressed to get where they're going; usually alone; often work or read on the train; many are literate computer users, some not;

2 Task Analysis

Write down major tasks for users of the Boston subway fare system. Find at least 5 tasks. In addition to tasks for all users, try to think of tasks relevant only to specific user groups.

Buy a new ticket

3 Task Breakdown

Choose one of your tasks and break it down into preconditions and subtasks. Try to generalize your descriptions beyond the concrete tasks of the T's current system design, thinking instead about the essential steps required for the task, independent of system design.

Task Preconditions & Subtasks

4 Requirements

Write down some nonfunctional requirements for the system based on your user and task analysis. Your task analysis directly provides functional requirements -- what functions it has to provide -- so don't bother rewriting those.