The Handbook of Task Analysis for Human-Computer Interaction

The Handbook of Task Analysis for Human-Computer Interaction

The Handbook of Task Analysis for Human-Computer Interaction

The Handbook of Task Analysis for Human-Computer Interaction


A comprehensive review of the current state of research and use of task analysis for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This multi-authored and diligently edited handbook offers the best reference source available on this diverse subject whose foundations date to the turn of the last century. Each chapter begins with an abstract and is cross-referenced and indexed to other chapters. Divided into five parts-each prefaced with a rationale and brief summary of its chapters-this volume presents contemporary thinking about task analysis together with a representative set of methods. Part I opens with seven chapters that form a book-within-a-book and introduce most of the main concepts, methods, and techniques discussed in more detail in later parts. Part II describes the use of task analysis in commercial IT projects and recognizes some of the important constraints on its use. Part III primarily concentrates on human issues-most relying on some particular psychological or ergonomic model. Part IV presents task analysis methods targeted at software engineering development. These methods, particularly where supported by CASE tools, are therefore practical for use in commercial projects. Lastly, Part V focuses on outstanding issues associated with task analysis, highlighting the main problems with it and analyzing how these might be resolved in due course. Academic researchers, post-graduate students and final year undergraduates, as well as practicing HCI professionals and hardcore task analysts, including industrialists, psychologists, and computer scientists will all benefit from this Handbook.


“Dan, do you remember that conference on task analysis that John Annett organized at Warwick University in the early 1990s? The one where we couldn't believe people were talking about the same thing. ”

“Yeah, Neville, …. ”

The most widely cited reference on task analysis has been Task-Analysis for HumanComputer Interaction, edited by Dan Diaper, who must take the main blame for this new Handbook of Task Analysis for Human-Computer Interaction, as his motive was in part to stem the trickle of requests from around the world for chapters from the out-of-print 1989 book. We, the editors, wanted to produce the definitive reference on task analysis for humancomputer interaction (HCI). In this we have failed, and the new handbook provides merely a comprehensive sample of the current research on and use of task analysis. We expect, however, for it to still be the best reference source available. Indeed, our hope is that this first edition is so successful that the completely revised second edition that we'll prepare in 3 or 4 years will be nigh definitive.

Our other reasons for editing this handbook, apart from self-aggrandizement (money certainly wasn't a motive), are as follows: The whole field of task analysis, it seems to us, remains fragmented and poorly understood by many, and a belief that task analysis is at the very heart of virtually all HCI work, although readers should regard Diaper's pathetic excuses concerning chapter 1—about coverage, precision, clarity, and combining two chapters into one—as inadequate for his being self-indulgently prolix, he does explain our beliefs about the importance of task analysis.

The editorial process for this handbook's production was based on an egalitarian ethic. First we advertised for abstracts of possible contributions. We then selected most of them and put them into a tentative structure. Once we'd received all the chapters, we sent the authors comments and suggestions, usually quite extensive. We always intended to defer to the expertise of the authors, but we are proud to report that there was virtually no controversy between authors and editors over these comments and suggestions. The chapter authors have been a pleasure to work with. Thank you. Dan then edited all the chapters and cross-referenced them so it would be a proper book, not just a collection of separate chapters, like a conference proceedings.

From the start, we intended to produce an electronic version of the handbook to go with the paper one. Our publisher, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (LEA) and TechBooks who handled its . . .

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