What Is Tree Testing?
Tree testing is a useful tool for evaluating the structure and organization of your prototype or website. Using UserTesting to conduct such tests will optimize your tree testing experience.
What is a tree test?
Tree testing is a usability technique that can help you evaluate how easy or difficult it is to find topics on a website. You may have also heard this method described as ‘reverse card sorting’, or possibly ‘card-based classification’.
Tree tests are run on text-based versions of websites, without the influence of navigation aids or design elements, similar to a sitemap. Contributors are shown the text-only version of your website or app and are asked to indicate where they would find specific items or topics.
Why is tree testing helpful?
By stripping away everything but the labels and how they’re organized, you can work out just how effective your website structure is at enabling people to find what they need. If test contributors consistently struggle to locate specific items, you’ll know there are issues with your structure. It can also help you visualize what paths contributors take to get to specific site information.
When should you do tree testing?
It’s a good idea to do a tree test early in the research phase of a project. If you have an existing website, this is a good time to establish a base for your existing site structure. The results you gather here can help highlight any issues with your site structure and provide data against which to make comparisons (and, in turn, evaluate whether the structure has improved).
If you’re starting from scratch with a new website, you can run tree tests on different versions of your proposed site structure, and then compare the results to determine which makes the most sense to your users.
Tree testing with UserTesting
To conduct a tree test with UserTesting, build the test itself within the tree test app and then add the tree test task to your unmoderated UserTesting test. Contributors are asked to think out loud as they complete the tree test, so you can observe their behavior and listen to their feedback as they go through the activity. For more information, read about setting up a tree test with UserTesting.
Note: Tree testing is not optimized for mobile.
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