Tree Test is a method in the field of UX research (also user research) that is used to evaluate the information architecture and navigation of a website or application. The goal is to test the findability and organization of content within a hierarchical structure, which is often represented as a tree diagram "Tree Structure".
The process of tree testing includes the following steps:
Preparation: The information architecture of the website or application is translated into a simplified tree structure that represents the main categories, subcategories and content. This structure is often created using spreadsheets or specialized design tools.
Tasks: Test tasks simulate real-world scenarios that users will encounter as they navigate through the website or application. These tasks should be specific and measurable, and are designed to find specific information within the tree structure.
Conducting the test: Participants are given the test tasks and the simplified tree structure. They are asked to navigate through the tree by selecting the categories and subcategories that they believe will lead to the correct place to solve each task. These steps are usually performed using online tools or specialized software.
Data analysis: Participants' user interactions and selection decisions are recorded and analyzed. The analysis focuses on identifying patterns of success and failure. These include paths chosen, time taken, and accuracy of task completion. This data helps identify potential problems in information architecture and usability.
The features of tree testing are:
Simplicity: The method focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of the hierarchical structure. Therefore, a simplified presentation without visual design elements or distractions is usually used.
Findability and navigation: The main objective is to evaluate how easily users can find and navigate specific content within the defined tree structure.
Iterative improvement: The results of tree testing can enable iterative improvements to the information architecture. The goal is for users to find desired content better and faster.
The advantages and benefits of tree testing in the lab are:
Early detection of usability problems: By evaluating the information architecture before investing in visual design or development, potential usability problems can be identified and addressed early in the design process.
Objective assessment: Tree testing provides objective data on users' ability to navigate the hierarchical structure. As a result, it provides valuable insights for improving findability and organization.
Cost and Time Savings: Compared to other usability testing methods, tree testing is relatively fast and inexpensive. This allows testing with a larger number of participants.