Why Tree Testing is Super Important for Your Business Website
When you’re constructing a website, content organisation might be a difficult obstacle to overcome. The objective is to enhance the user experience and bring in a greater number of visitors to the website of your company. In order to make this happen, you will need to display the information that is on the pages in a logical and organised manner. To put it another way, you require effective information architecture.
The value of tree testing and other tactics that improve the information architecture of a company website is something that many people fail to recognise.
So, what exactly is going to happen with their websites?
The end effect is websites with categories that overlap one another, garbled material, and labels that are difficult to understand. People who visit these websites either are unable to locate what they are seeking for or are unhappy with what they find when they do. Because of the poor way in which you are presenting your services and products at the moment, it hardly matters how fantastic they are in and of themselves.
You will need to develop high-quality labelling and structure in order to appropriately manage the content that is displayed on the website. There is one strategy that is very useful for accomplishing this goal. The procedure is known as tree testing.
What exactly is the testing of trees?
Testing using trees has been around for a long time and has been shown to be an effective way to analyse the content of a website’s searchability. Take any website for example; on it, you will find a structure consisting of a hierarchy of categories and labels, with subcategories nested underneath the main ones. All of these structures will originate from a single point, which will be your homepage. Because it physically resembles a tree, this method is referred to as “tree testing,” which is where it gets its name.
Testing of trees can be carried out either in-person or remotely utilising software such as Maze. The first method is more efficient, it costs less money, and it enables you to make advantage of participants who can carry out their responsibilities remotely. The second method is typically known as moderated testing, however it takes significantly more time and may incur additional costs. A senior user experience researcher at Shopify named Melanie Buset, who is cited in Maze’s guide for tree testing, provides the following definition of tree testing:
“Tree testing allows you to obtain insight into people’s mental models of a product and how they would naturally think about exploring it,” says one proponent of the methodology.
Donna Spencer, a design industry pioneer, is credited with having originated the idea. In the beginning, index cards printed on regular paper were used for the procedure. Due to the rapid advancement of technology, there are currently a great deal of digital approaches and instruments available for testing trees. These are more popular among companies because they are quicker and need fewer efforts as well as fewer financial investments.
Tree testing, which can also be referred to as “reverse card sorting,” analyses a tree, which is a hierarchical structure made up of categories. In order to carry out this kind of research, you will need participants who are willing to comply with your requests to click on a certain location on the tree in order to get the answers they want. Because of their responses, website designers now have a better idea of how the themes should be structured and in what sequence they should appear.
The following is UserZoom’s comprehensive review of Shopify’s tree test results. The outcomes are shown in the following image.
Shopify’s Testing Source for Trees
The advantages that tree inspections might provide to your company.
The effectiveness of tree testing, despite its apparent ease of execution, is frequently underrated. This strategy is simple to put into action, and yet the outcomes it produces are frequently quite beneficial to companies. The following is a small selection of the plethora of benefits that your firm can derive from tree testing:
Identify navigation issues
Using the data obtained through tree testing, organisations are able to uncover a variety of navigational concerns with a website or even an app. You will be able to collect data and conduct an analysis of the locations that your visitors visit in order to find the information that they are seeking thanks to this method. You can determine the primary factors that turn people off to your inventions by observing the actions they exhibit toward them.
Conduct an analysis of how effective your labelling is.
If you want to be sure that the phrases you use on your website are correct, tree tests are a fantastic option. Will they understand what you mean, for instance, if you use the terms “business development” or “contingency planning”? When developing a website, proper labelling is of the utmost significance. If users are confused about what they are seeing on the website, it won’t be long before they hunt for one that is more straightforward.
You can determine things like these with the use of tree testing, including:
Whether or whether the people in your target audience are familiar with the jargon, or the terms that are only used internally.
What are some of their favoured terms, as well as those that they use frequently?
Which phrases are likely to be unclear to particular groups of people, and what steps might be taken to simplify them?
A collection of interchangeable words that can improve the search engine optimization ranking and the readability of the website
Determine the height of an existing tree.
When you are analysing the information architecture of your existing website or app, one of your primary goals should be to identify the components that do not function properly in addition to those that do. The first one should be taken out, while the second one should have more information added to it.
We now have a number of potential solutions in mind for the most of the issues that need to be addressed. User feedback, web analytics, card sorting, and other types of testing are just some of the many approaches that may be utilised to improve the information architecture of a website. Tree testing, on the other hand, might offer a fresh viewpoint on aspects of the forest that one would not have previously noticed. You will be able to understand, as a result of the data that is gathered with the assistance of this method, how significantly the suspected problem areas hinder your achievement, as well as which of the unanticipated areas require your attention.
Conduct tests on the changes.
Testing the trees in a continuous manner yields the best results. You can figure out what your next steps will be, such as what you need to get rid of and what you need to work on in terms of the content on your website, by referring to the preliminary data. However, there is no justification for discarding this helpful strategy once you have completed it.
When you have finished making the modifications, you can repeat the testing to determine whether or not they were successful. The results of testing amended trees will inform you how well the newly added sections or structures function, as well as whether or not there are still certain structures that perform poorly.
Putting changed tree sources via testing
Compare different site structures
The purpose of tree testing is to help you choose which website structure will be most beneficial to the success of your company. Why not make use of this information to help you evaluate your choices given this information? Imagine this as your version of a brainstorming session, but one that also incorporates the perspectives of the clients and customers you wish to win over and bring into your company.
When it comes to the organisational framework of their websites, companies should have various alternative concepts in mind while still in the design phase. Naturally, they will begin with the preferred option; however, what will happen if it is unsuccessful?
Testing with the assistance of the tree visualisation is extremely helpful in situations like these. You have the option of contrasting the available choices and selecting the best one; alternatively, you may combine the characteristics that are most desirable in each alternative to produce a system that is simple to use.
For instance, you’ll find that your tree number 1 has the best performance overall, but that your tree number 3 has specific components that perform far better. This information can be put to use in the development of a hybrid with the optimal structure.
How the tree inspection process works
When conducting an analysis of the tactics your company employs, tree testing is a step that should not be skipped due to the fact that it is simple and requires very little time. Participants will be given a task-based activity in which they will be required to determine the position of a particular element within an already established tree structure. This gives you insight into where people anticipate finding the information, as well as what you can do to improve the business depending on their actions.
Tests on trees should be carried out in accordance with the following steps:
Develop a study plan in which the goals of the testing will be aligned with one another.
Prepare questions for the participants based on your plan, using the information provided.
Define the structure of the tree with all of the categories, the subcategories, and any other characteristics like pages on a website.
Develop individualised responsibilities for the participants.
Determine the number of participants and the demographics of your ideal audience, then go out and get them.
Determine which method of tree inspection you will use (in-person or remote testing)
Carry out a test run with your team to determine whether or not it will be successful.
Conduct the test, and analyse the findings.
Testing on trees versus sorting cards
These two approaches are quite comparable to one another in terms of their goals, but they can also serve a variety of reasons and provide a wide range of outcomes, each of which may better serve the needs of your company. Both are carried out in order to more accurately classify the content. However, each tactic is implemented at a unique stage of the strategy process for the generation of content. They require a distinct perspective, as well.
Card sorting is an excellent method for gaining insight into the participant’s thought process. However, if you are looking to adhere to a more precise classification scheme, this won’t be of much assistance to you. Because participants in card testing establish their own group items and categories, it might be challenging to design the scheme for the exam. During tree testing, companies provide participants with a predetermined categorization hierarchy to work inside. Because it accomplishes the same objective as traditional card sorting but uses a different strategy, it is sometimes referred to as “reverse card sorting.”
Following the logic of the situation, card sorting comes before tree testing. Executing both tests is, in a sense, an excellent approach to validate and corroborate the results that you get from the first test.
Conclusions and musings
Tree testing is a valuable technique that may give organisations with accurate insight about the organisation of their website, as you are probably aware by this point. You currently have the option of selecting either conventional in-person testing or modern remote testing. The first option is preferable because it makes it possible to engage in conversation and mediation on a more intimate level. The latter is well-liked due to its quickness and user-friendliness (you only need a browser and tool to gather the data, and your participants can do this remotely).
Regardless of the option you go with, this strategy is uncomplicated, does not cost very much money, and provides an excellent opportunity to assess the way in which you have structured your content. Understanding what your customers anticipate from your company, whether it be your website or app, can be of tremendous assistance to you.