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Well, I think that the question is self-explanatory.

In order to explain something to someone in the office I used task-based instead of user-centric and I was surprised. I'm usually complaining about how software usually focuses on processes instead of the user, and using "task-based" made me think.

I have a theory that the first screen of whatever software you do should have a summary of the activities that you can perform with it, and from there link to those tasks you want to perform.

From this perspective, task-based and user-centric seem the same to me regardless of the full context and for this example only.

What I want to know is a good distinction between one and the other?

Could you please enlighten me with some cool references?

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You could do worse than scan Welie's thesis: welie.com/papers/Welie-PhD-thesis.pdf It's a suprisingly readable dissertaion on task analysis and usability. –  gef05 Jul 27 '12 at 5:56
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

user-centric design and task-based are closely related, but different.

Task-based design (in a simplified explanation) focuses on tasks that a user would/could carry out and designing flows, panels, etc. around those specific tasks.

User-centric design (in a simplified explanation) is about focusing on the user and their needs, efficiency, clarity, etc.

To illustrate with a limited example, let's say that you want to optimise a UI for some tasks, and you make it awesome for those tasks. They may not be the tasks that the user performs the most or has the most trouble with. In that case you were being task-based, but not user-centric.

If you do a job well, task-based should also be user-centric, but being user-centric may not entail being task-based.

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