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Elana Chapman, UX Researcher

Self-Guided Tasks are a great way to evaluate the usability and accessibility of a user flow. Get insights without having to run an Interview yourself. 

What is a Self-Guided Task and when should I use one?

A Self-Guided task is an unmoderated request to help you evaluate the usability and accessibility of a single user flow. It gives you insights akin to an interview without having to run the session yourself. 

You should create a Self-Guided task if you are looking to: 

  • Get feedback on a specific task or flow on a website, mobile or software application  
  • Receive a quantifiable Accessible Usability Scale score (great for benchmarking!)
  • Collect accessibility and usability insights from a single assistive technology user 
  • Have video and narration of a tester independently experiencing a user journey 
  • Uncover barriers in your experience and understand their impact on assistive technology users 
  • Video of an assistive technology user navigating your products for internal training purposes 

A Self-guided task is not a good fit for: 

  • Generative research 
  • Experiences that require lots of probing questions 
  • User flows that require explicit external instruction to complete 

For the goals above, we’d recommend a moderated request, like a User Interview, instead. 

How do I create a Self-Guided Task?

As with all requests, start by selecting ‘Create’ from the Fable platform. Select an existing Project or create a new one – every request must be assigned to a ‘Project.’ Select ‘Self-Guided Task’ and you’ll be on your way! 

To request a Self-Guided Task you’ll need information on the following: 

  • Audience: Who do you want feedback from? You can choose various tech specs as well as AT preferences. 
  • Credentials and access: How will your participant access your product? This includes any special instructions or existing environments.
  •  Special Instructions: Include any specific data that may be needed based on location. Things can include address, Zip/postal code, phone number, etc.
  • Scenario: Why is the participant doing the task? Give testers some context for their activity so they can be in the right mindset for the task.  
  • Task: What will the user be doing in the session? Make sure that the task is easy enough to remember on its own.

How to write an effective scenario and task

The scenario sets the stage for a self-guided while the task is the star of the show. Maybe you want a tester to search your website for an item to purchase or you would like them to fill out a form. Regardless of the activity, it should be written in a way that is straight forward and simple to follow.   

Here are some examples of good scenarios and tasks: 

Shopping experience

Scenario: You just purchased a Nintendo Switch and are looking for inexpensive games to play with your friends. You plan to purchase at least two games. 

Task: Search for Nintendo Switch games and using the filters, find the least expensive options. You want to add at least two multi-player games to your cart.  

Account creation 

Scenario: You want to purchase tickets for a virtual concert coming up in the next month. You realize that you need to create an account first before you can search for your tickets. 

Task: Create an account using the fake credentials provided in the special instructions. Be sure to leave at least one required field empty so that you can experience an error message during the experience. While you go through the task, be sure to comment on clarity of messaging. 

What type of feedback can I expect?

A Self-Guided task provides both quantitative and qualitative feedback in the form of the Accessible Usability Scale (AUS) Score and a video and transcript of a tester completing the task.  

  • AUS Score: The AUS is a tool to measure the perceived usability of a digital product for assistive technology users. Inspired by the System Usability Scale (SUS), the Accessible Usability Scale consists of ten questions administered at the end of the self-guided task to calculate a score. 
  • Video and Transcript: A video and transcript of the tester walking through the flow and narrating their feedback on the experience is provided. You can also create clips directly from within Fable, great for socializing internally! 

How to use your findings

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your Self-Guided Task findings: 

  • Use it to inform the script for a User Interview, helping you to plan targeted questions and areas of opportunity to incorporate generative activities that are not possible in an unmoderated request. 
  • Contrast your existing usability metrics e.g. SUS scores for non-AT users with AUS scores outputted from the Self-Guided. For more on this benchmarking method, please refer to Benchmarking accessibility using Fable. 
  • Build up a perceived usability baseline for your website overtime using AUS scores to help with prioritization. As you do more testing, you will be able to tell how users of different AT types fair on your products or if specific experiences need additional attention.  
  • Use the recordings to socialize assistive technology and how it’s used to internal stakeholders. 

Tips for a successful Self-Guided Task: 

Here are some tips to make the most of your request, and ensure you get actionable results from your Self-Guided Task:

  • Crisp and clear: There should be one main objective you’d like the user to accomplish. 

  • Cognitive load: Be mindful of how much information people can remember. Avoid creating tasks that look for multiple, highly specific items.

  • Areas of interest: Feel free to specify items you’d like the tester to pay extra attention to e.g. error messaging, heading structure, etc.

  • Context is key: Have a useful scenario to get people into the mindset of their task