Great website content is only found with great website navigation. Tree testing can help you to effectively evaluate your site navigation and avoid common mistakes.
A tree test evaluates a hierarchical category structure, or tree, by having users find the locations in the tree where specific tasks can be completed. It helps you quickly determine whether your labels help the user selects the correct top-level category.
To conduct a tree test, you don’t need to sketch any wire frames or write any content. You only need to prepare two things: the tree, or hierarchical menu, and a list of tasks that ask users to find specific items in the navigation.
Your tree should be a complete list of all your main content categories, and all their subcategories. it can be presented in a simple spreadsheet or as a visual chart. There are tools designed specifically for tree testing that expedite the process of analyzing your results. Userzoom and Treejack are both good options.
The tasks you ask users to complete should address key website goals. If you don’t have website goals, you need to back up and develop a strategy that will guide you at every step of the website development and continual improvement process.