One aspect of user experience in a software application or website is the complexity of the processes involved in completing a user task/goal. It probably comes as no surprise that if the steps required to complete the task is long and complex, then the user will have a difficult time getting a good user experience from trying to achieve his/her goals. Off the top of my head I can only think of things like the number of screens and clicks as quantifiable measures. I would like to know if there are any standard metrics used to measure the relative degree of quality of content that takes into account of various elements that comprise of process complexity, and how this relates to the overall user experience.


Things that I think would help to derive some metrics for the answer is to understand some different types of processes.

  • Independent/Pooled – Each component of the task is completed independent of each other task with no specific dependency on any other task.
  • Sequential – Each component of scheduled task is dependent on the preceding task.
  • Interdependent/Networked – Each component of scheduled task is dependent on one or a number of other task being completed.

Some of the factors influencing task complexity:

  • Size of the task - how many sub-tasks comprise of the task
  • Length of the task - how many steps / screens / clicks / time
  • Variation of the task - number of alternate steps

I think the weighting applied to the different factors might need to be related to how much impact it has on the user being able to successfully complete the task.


I have used total time taken using GOMS KLM analysis, which allows you to measure time taken by different types of users without actually testing with users.

Below is a step by step process of using that technique



Wood's four dimensions of (task) complexity is a common model in human factors:

  1. Dynamism of system
  2. Parts, variables and their inter-connections
  3. Uncertainty
  4. Risk

See Wood, R. E. (1986). Task complexity: Definition of the construct. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 37(1), 60-82.

  • Are there any more recent studies done in this area? I have been reading about standards like BPMN and BPEL, but these relate to business processes specifically. – Michael Lai Mar 26 '13 at 23:21

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