Tips for Tree Testing

Last Updated: Oct 09, 2015 08:17PM PDT
TREE TESTING is a rare kind of test in which you will be shown a plain-looking menu and asked to indicate where you’d find specific things within the menu.  Tree tests help developers tell whether their menus make sense.

We most frequently use Treejack for this type of study, but you may be sent to other online tree testing services. You should not provide feedback on the tree testing site itself; it has nothing to do with the client’s site or their test objectives.  Your job is to focus on the menu and where you'd expect to find items in it.

If you want to get a high rating on a tree test, do the following things:
  • Read the instructions very carefully. This is true for ALL tests, but especially tree tests, because you will probably be taken to another site to complete the test. There may also be some terminology confusion, because both UserTesting and most tree testing involves completing “tasks”. If you’re not sure what you’re being asked to do, say that aloud while you’re recording, explain how you are interpreting the instructions, and carry on in whatever way you can.

  • Focus on the terms used in the menu and the tasks. A tree test is not about design, and it’s not done on the client’s own site; it’s done on a site built for tree tests. Instead of evaluating the page’s visuals, think out loud as you interact with the menu. Explain which terms make sense to you, which terms are confusing, and why you’re selecting the terms that you choose. The main goal of tree testing is to determine how intuitive a menu is, so that should be the focus of your verbal feedback.

  • Describe your confidence and certainty in making selections. If you feel like the menu was super easy to interact with and you are 100% sure of where you’d find things within the menu, then say so. If you’re picking a menu option at random because you honestly don’t know where you’d go to find something, say that, too.
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