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Comparative User Task Analysis

CUTA stands for “Comparative User Task Analysis.” It is a lab interview method where multiple test users describe, with index cards, the steps they would expect to take when completing a given task. Their responses will show you opportunities to add or remove features, or to rethink the execution of a feature. Your test participants each perform their task analysis separately so you can compare them with other participants’ task flows.


Schedule Time

  • Time per Session: 30 – 60 Minutes

  • Number of Sessions: 7 – 8

Gather Materials

  • Index cards

  • Markers


  1. Determine the high-level tasks you want your customers to break down. These should be tasks your product is designed to help with.

  2. Provide your test participant with index cards and a marker. Give them their task, and ask them to write each step they expect to take on an index card. Tell them to include both mental and physical steps, and to include steps that both do and do not involve technology.

  3. Have them add two letters to the top-right corner of each card: either M for mental steps or P for physical, and either T for steps that use technology or N for steps that do not.

  4. Have your participant organize those cards into their task flow.

  5. Review the task flow with the participant. Make sure that you can read their handwriting and that you understand the reason for each step.

  6. Once the session is completed, document the results. Make sure each task flow is labeled with the participant’s name (or code name).

  7. After you have completed sessions with 7 or 8 different users, compare the different task flows for patterns, differences, and commonalities.


Try these tips

  • Each test participant should work alone; however, if you have any participants who work more naturally in groups, you can recruit them as a test group. This group would take the place of one individual participant.

  • Do not show previous results to any participant. If a participant asks how others have responded, explain politely that you are unable to disclose that without invalidating their results.

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