Tree testing is a research method used to evaluate how easy or difficult information is to find in a product. The method involves participants using a text based information structure to indicate where they would expect to find different items, topics or pieces of information. The text based structure ensures no visual components or styles influence the research.
NOTE: We don't support this method on our platform just yet, but stay tuned!
When the method should be used:
Tree testing is most often used following a card sorting activity to understand how people group information. With this isight an information architecture is developed and the tree test can be used to evaluate how well the architecture performs at helping people find the information they need.
It’s also common for tree tests to be used to evaluate existing product information architectures. This can be necessary if research through analytics or usability has identified the product has an information architectural issue, most commonly identified by people struggling to find something.
How effective is the new information architecture we’ve developed?
Where will people expect to find information?
How easy is it to find information in the product?
Tree testing is easy to setup and results can analyzed quickly
Research session lengths are typically short making recruiting participants easy
No design artifacts will interfere with the results
When tree testing is conducted remotely it’s not possible to delve deeper into why participants navigated a certain way - consider adding a survey to your method to capture this insight
The tree test assumes users start at your homepage or a top level navigation page. Which may not always be realistic of where users start their journey
Lacks any ability to assess how visuals support with navigation