Tree Testing with UserTesting


At a Glance

This article explains how to use UserTesting’s tree testing tool, a usability feature that can help you evaluate the findability of topics on a website.


We recommend most users start with the IA - Tree Testing template available in the Template gallery (in the Information architecture category). To learn more about tree testing, including why it’s useful and when you should do it, read What is tree testing?  

Note: UserTesting Information Architecture features, such as tree testing, are included in Ultimate plans and can be purchased as add-ons for Professional, Premium, and Advanced plans.


Why should you run a tree test via UserTesting?

How to Set Up a Tree Test in the UserTesting Platform

Results of Your Tree Test


Why should you run a tree test via UserTesting? 

Running your tree test via UserTesting can deliver both qualitative and quantitative insights.

  • The tree test results help you understand how many people could find the right information, how many people failed, and the paths people took through your information before settling on an answer. You can use the results of your tree testing to make more informed decisions related to the organization and labeling of information on your website or app. 
  • The recordings of the participants' sessions will give you behavioral insights into those who complete your tree test and answers to questions such as “Did people find any task particularly confusing?” and “Why did people go into the tree one way and not another?”
  • Tree testing is included with our Ultimate Edition subscriptions. For customers on our Advanced, Pro, and Premium Editions, our Information Architecture Testing package - which also includes card sorting - can be added for an additional cost. Please contact your account team for more information.

Note: Tree testing is not optimized for mobile.

How to Set Up a Tree Test in the UserTesting Platform

1. Create a new unmoderated test in UserTesting.

One of the tasks you will be able to add to your test is a tree test task. To start your test, select New > Create an unmoderated test.


Next, click Website.


You'll have three options for where your participants will come from: our participants (the UserTesting Panel), or your participants (My Panel or My Recruit).


2. Select your sample size and target audience in UserTesting. 

When running a tree test, it’s best to opt for a larger sample size so you can get solid data. We recommend distributing the test to 30-50 participants, but you’ll also get quite a bit of value from watching qualitative feedback from just a handful of participants.

It’s also good practice to pilot the study to a couple of participants first to validate that you’ve set up the test correctly. If your account limits you to 15 participants per test, launch one test with 15 participants, then create a copy of that unmoderated test (Create similar test) and launch to 15 more participants. Alternatively, you can keep all the results in one test by inviting 50 of your own My Recruit participants to take the test.

For more information about finding your ideal participants, see our other Knowledgebase articles about targeting your audience.

3. Include starting URL and provide some context. 

In the Starting Instructions section of UserTesting, choose a URL to send participants to. If you don’t have any specific site you want your participants to start on, use the A blank page option. Note that this Starting URL will not be the link to your tree test—that will be added in the Test Plan section of your test—because you want to provide more context and instruction before users get to the tree test activity.


Also, provide some context in the Scenario field, such as:

“Please note: One of the activities in this test will be conducting a tree test. This activity helps companies determine how they should structure and organize items.”

4. Build out your test plan, adding a tree test at the appropriate point in the flow of the test. 

You may want to ask some background questions before the tree test. For example, you may want participants to rate their familiarity with the topic that the tree test is focused on. Do not include too many tasks before the tree test because (1) you don’t want to inadvertently bias the participant’s thinking before they take the test and (2) you want to give the participant ample time to complete the tasks.


5. Set up the tree test.

In the tree test task, follow the link to the tree testing app. The link will open in a new tab where you can enter your test details.


After entering your test details, you can begin building your tree. There is no limit to the number of levels you can build into your tree. If you’d like to copy a tree from a previous test, simply go to the Test Details for that test, and click Clone Test at the bottom of the tab.



Once you’ve set up your tree, you can add questions. These will be questions that participants are asked to answer about the tree you just created.


We recommend a maximum of 10 total questions for a single tree, though there is no limit to the number you can ask. Remember the more tasks someone completes with the same tree, the more the results will be biased by their familiarity with that particular tree.


Select the right answer for each question - you can have multiple correct answers to account for the fact that the same information may be available in different parts of your site or app. 


6. Once you are done drafting the questions your test is ready to publish.

By publishing the test you are generating a URL that you can distribute to test participants.Tree_Testing_Publishing_12.png

After your test is published, you should see the page below.


From here you can edit test details, clone the test, or unpublish it so that participants can no longer access it. Setting project results to Public will generate a standalone results page you can share with other stakeholders with a separate URL, including stakeholders that do not have a UserTesting account.

Note: Creators can access, edit, and view results for their own tests. They cannot view or access tests launched by others on the account. Admins can publish and unpublish tests created by others, just as the creator can. However, admins cannot edit tests created by others. Once a test is deployed, admins can also view and share results as necessary.

7. Next, copy your link and paste it into the Tree Test URL box within the Tree Test Task.


8. Include follow-up questions to get additional insights from users.

Finally, add tasks for any follow-up questions you want to ask to evaluate the participant’s experience as they completed the tree test activity.

You might ask people:

  • How easy or difficult did you find this tree test?
  • Which labels, if any, were difficult to understand? 
  • In general, did the labels help you quickly and easily locate the information you wanted?

Results of Your Tree Test 

Once the participants complete your test, you can see the results in your Dashboard, just as any UserTesting test, and watch videos of participants completing the tree test.


Click View Tree Testing Results to view the quantitative results of your test within the tree testing app (i.e. where you initially created the tree). 


You can find your results under My Projects.


Selecting the Results tab will reveal the summary of your results as well as the individual tasks. This includes correct and incorrect answers, paths taken, and average time on task. You are also able to export this data as a .csv or .xls file.


You can also view results for individual participants by selecting the participants tab:



Learn More

Need more information? Read these related articles.

Want to learn more about this topic? Check out our University courses.

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