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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.

UPDATE: I really like this example of user flow analysis whereby all the key actions to be performed is listed, and given a complexity value. While this won't entirely capture the exact complexity accurately, at least it is a starting point for quantifying this information. Combine this with the standard BPMN to understand the underlying process complexity, and the information density analysis for the inputs and outputs, and you will probably get a pretty good picture.

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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.

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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

http://www.pitt.edu/~cmlewis/KSM.pdf

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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.

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  • 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
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:21

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