We all hate getting lost. It has definitely happened to you that you had an office job and had to enter the wide and long building of a certain ministry or one of its affiliated organizations. You probably didn’t know which floor or room to go to. At best, you only knew the job title of the person you were supposed to be doing.

Sometimes you just had a problem or a question. For example, why hasn’t your business license been issued yet? Or why do you have to pay so much tax? In these cases, you don’t even know the person to whom you are going to tell your problem. This is where you go straight to the information department or the guard of that building to ask him.

The guard tells you to go to a certain room, which is deputy x. The work becomes a little easier. Labels are attached to all the doors. If there is no guard, there is usually a floor guide board installed at the entrance of the buildings. This is also good and makes you not get lost in the building and go straight to where you need to be.

Websites are the same. The user does not like to get lost on the website. A user enters a website with a specific purpose. Has a problem or is looking for something specific. The site must also have a guard or floor guide. The structure of the site and the classification of topics and the site menu go hand in hand and play the role of a guide for the classes.

Therefore, the structure and classification of topics and menus should be clear, unambiguous and guiding to take the user where he wants. Making sure they’re driving is a user experience designer’s job. How does the user experience designer achieve this assurance? What solution is foreseen in user experience design?

Tree Testing is one of the tests used in user experience design to evaluate the findability of information and topics in the design of the site structure and its menu. What exactly is this test and how is it done? What are its tools and how is it related to other tests in user experience design?

This article tries to answer the above questions. We start with the definition of tree testing in user experience design.

What is Tree Testing in UX?

Let me give an example. You have an online business and a store site. Your store sells all kinds of cosmetic products from different brands online. How are different product groups placed together in the site menu? With what hierarchy? What words or expressions (Labels) do you use to name categories?

Is it easier for your user if you categorize the products according to their brand or according to the type of product and the special feature of each product? In the site menu, write brands, skin, hair, cosmetics? Or maybe two general categories of cosmetic products and health products, each of which is divided into different sub-branches? How many subcategories should each category be divided into?

Answering these questions accurately is very important. Because you don’t want to confuse the user or have too many or too few or the same categories so that when the user wants to find a certain dress, he has to visit several categories. This problem may also occur in the classification of sub-branches.

Tree testing is a quick, simple and inexpensive way to evaluate your site structure early on in the research process. It will give you valuable insights to understand where your users will expect to find content on the site.

To make the divisions and reach the structure of the site, you must first research and then test the initial plan (divisions); That is, you have to see with tree testing whether the user can find what he wants by dividing you and the phrase and words of the categories without problems and getting confused. If not, where is the problem?

What is the purpose of Tree Testing in user experience design?

I think from the definition and the example that was given, the purpose of doing this test is also clear to some extent. The purpose of this test is to have a real user of the site answer the following questions to make sure the user experience is satisfactory before spending money and building the main site:

  • Do users understand the meaning of terms and names (labels) used on the site and menu and categories well and clearly?
  • Is the content of the site logically divided according to users?
  • Can users easily and quickly find the information they want? If not, what is stopping them?

Know where and why people get lost in your content, and fix it. Tree testing helps you evaluate the findability of topics on your website.

In other words, the navigation of your site is tested as a whole. In this way, the design of the user experience of the site is modified and improved precisely with the user’s opinion (human-centered design). Tree testing is not only done for new sites. It is also implemented with the aim of improving and improving the user experience of existing sites, which do not have good navigation.

Advantages of Tree Testing

So far and with what we have said, it seems that the tree test is a very good, interesting and useful thing. It is true. It has significant advantages. But it also has disadvantages. In this section, we review the most important advantages and benefits of using this method. First, let’s go to the benefits (of course, benefits other than what is related to the purposes of doing this test):

  • This test can be done in two ways: face-to-face and face-to-face (with the help of this test’s special software). Both of these methods are not very costly and time-consuming.
  • The result of the test is known very quickly, and the user experience design team can quickly analyze the results and plan to fix the problems.

Tree Testing vs. Card Sorting

Card Sorting and Tree Testing are two research methods in user experience design that are usually done together. (Of course, there are other methods for qualitative research in user experience design.) I said two methods for research, because in both of them research is conducted with the aim of knowing the user and designing the user experience based on that knowledge. These two are related to each other but not the same. In Card Sorting, subjects (goods) that are supposed to be placed together in a group are identified.

Let’s go back to the example of the online clothing store. Should socks, skirts, and pants be placed together in one group, and a name be considered for the group, or should we put suits and skirts in one group, such as tops and socks, so it becomes an independent group? Card Sorting finds the answer to these questions. With Card Sorting, initial ideas are found and those ideas are tested in the tree test.

For best results, a card sort should be followed up by a tree test to evaluate the proposed menu structure.

Tree Testing design and implementation steps

How and in how many steps is the tree test designed and implemented?

  • First of all, determine the purpose of the test. Your site is new and this was part of your user experience design strategy, or your site ran into a problem and users were unhappy and you realized they couldn’t find what they wanted quickly and easily.
  • Second, write the site hierarchy and categories in Excel.
  • Third, specify a Task for the user (who should participate in the test). That is, write what he is looking for. For example, the user wants to know what treatments are covered by student insurance. Where (in which part of the website) will he look for the answer?
  • Fourth, identify those who are going to participate in the test. Based on the type of business, the purpose of conducting this test and the resources you have, you can use different methods to select participants. Just try to choose those who are willing and enthusiastic to participate in the test and also try to be among the audience and target group of your site and business.
  • Fifth, mark the correct answers. Which task did the users complete successfully and in the least amount of time without getting confused between the menu options?
  • Sixth, analysis of the data obtained from the test. If you do this test with the help of software, the software will do it for you.

Tree Testing methods and tools (software).

Tree test is done with two methods and usually with the help of software. In fact, the tool for executing this test is software. Let’s start with the methods:

  • The face-to-face method (Moderated) which does not take much time and will last between 15 and 20 minutes. But the face-to-face method is rarely used for tree testing.
  • Unmoderated method that is done with the help of software. It is better that at least 50 people participate in each test and 10 tasks are defined.

There are various software for running this test in the market, which of course are not free. 2 famous software, one is called Treejack and the other is userzoom. You give the file you prepared in the second step to the software, and it is the software that delivers something similar to the first and second images. It performs the tree test and analyzes the results and provides them to the user experience design team in the form of charts and infographics.


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