UX Research & User Testing Course

Types of User Tests: Tree Test

When working on a website, it's common to have concerns about whether users can find specific pieces of content. If you don't have a prototype yet, a tree test is a good way to test information findability.

Tree Testing: User-Friendly Navigation

In a tree test, users are presented with a simplified version of your website’s navigation structure and asked to find specific items or complete certain tasks. It’s like giving them a map and observing how easily they can reach their desired location. By analyzing the paths users take and identifying any deadends or confusing detours, you can pinpoint areas where your navigation needs improvement.

Tree testing is your secret weapon for creating a website that users can navigate with ease and confidence. It helps you optimize your site’s structure, ensuring that users can find what they need quickly and efficiently.

Setting Up a Tree Test

  1. Log into UX Metrics and go to the Tree Tests section.
  2. Create a new tree test and give it a name (e.g., “Tree Test”).
  3. (Optional) Edit the welcome message, participant instructions, and thank you message.
  4. Enter the information architecture of your site, including main sections and subsections (e.g., About > Company History, Case Studies, Products, Services).
  5. Add tasks for users to complete (e.g., “Where would you look if you are trying to find a particular team member?”) and set the correct choice for each task.
  6. (Optional) Adjust additional options and settings.
  7. Preview your tree test or generate a link to share with participants.

Participant Experience

  1. Participants see the welcome message and instructions.
  2. They are presented with the first task (e.g., “Where would you look if you are trying to find a particular team member?”).
  3. Participants click on the section or subsection where they think the information would be located and confirm their choice.
  4. They continue through the remaining tasks.

Analyzing Results

  1. Go back to UXmetrics and navigate to the Tree Testing section.
  2. Select the tree test you want to analyze and view the report.
  3. For each task, you can see the success rate, the successful route, and the percentage of participants who navigated directly to the correct location.
  4. If some participants navigated to the correct link indirectly, you can click to see the different routes they took.
  5. Use this information to identify areas where you might want to consider adding additional links or improving the information architecture.

The Value of Tree Testing

Tree testing is a valuable method for assessing the findability of information within a website’s structure, even before creating a prototype. By setting up a tree test in a tool like UXmetrics, you can present users with a series of tasks and analyze their navigation paths to locate specific content. This approach helps identify potential issues with the information architecture and reveals opportunities for improvement, such as adding links in sections where users commonly look for certain information. By conducting tree tests and iterating on the site structure based on the results, you can create a more intuitive and user-friendly website that allows users to easily find the content they need.

Tree Tests Video Transcript

It’s not unusual when you’re working on a website to have concerns about whether users are able to find particular pieces of content.

And if you’re early on and you don’t have a prototype yet, then a tree test is a good way of solving it.

You can test whether or not someone can find information using a tool called UXmetrics.

And once you have logged into it, you can go into tree tests and create yourself a new tree test.

When you create a tree test, it’s pretty simple to set up.

You just give it a name, and we’re just going to call this one Tree Test for simplicity.

You can edit the welcome message, the participant instructions, and the thank you message if you want to.

Then you hit Next.

And what you do is basically enter in the information architecture of your site.

So we might have About, and then we might have the company history, say, for example.

But we could create new sections as well, like case studies.

Or we might want to create a new section called Products, and then another one called Services.

And we can also create children of each of these, as you can see with About.

So also under About, we might have, I don’t know, Finances or Our Team.

So you keep adding as many pages and subsections as you want to.

And then once you’ve created your information architecture, you can hit Next.

Now, at this point, we start to add our tasks.

So, for example, we can create a task, “Where would you look if you are trying to find a particular team member?”

And then we can set the correct choice, which would be in the About sections team.

And we can add as many of these tasks as we want.

But once we’re done, we can then go to this screen where, essentially, there are a load of options you can set, if you so wish.

And basically, you can preview your tree test, or if you have got the full plan currently running, you will be given a link that you can use to view that tree test.

That then runs.

So let’s do a preview, and you can see for yourself what this looks like.

You see the welcome message, the instructions, and then the first task.

“Where would you look if you are trying to find a particular team member?”

And then you click where you think, and you say, “I’d go here.”

Okay, so users can go through and complete that for you.

Then, once that’s done, you can go back and look on the UX Metrics reporting side of things, and we can go into Tree Testing.

And what we’ll do is we’ll look at a previous one that I’ve run for the University of Florida.

And we can go into there, and we can view our results.

So, by clicking on View Report, we’re taken through to the results of this particular test, and you can see each task in turn.

So the first task in this particular case was, “Where would you find the employee handbook?”

And as you can see, 85.7% of people did it successfully.

There is the successful route.

So the employee handbook is under Working at UF Policies and Procedures.

So 87% was successful. 58, nearly 59% did it directly, which means that a reasonably high proportion didn’t navigate directly to that success criteria.

And it did take them almost a minute to complete that, so that’s quite a long time.

So what we might want to do is find out, “Well, okay, this 58.9% of people did it correctly straightaway.

That’s wonderful, but what about the rest of those people who navigated to the correct link, but did so indirectly?”

So what we can do is click here, and it will show us all of the different routes that people took in order to get to that place.

So it’s a way of us identifying where else we might want to consider linking to the employee handbook.

So for example, a lot of people looked under Employee Rights, so maybe it should be there.

So basically, that is a way of you understanding how people are navigating the site and where they’re looking to complete any tasks that you want to test.

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