If you want to find out how well your website navigation structure works for your customers, Treejack is a great tool for the job.
If you want to know why certain parts performed poorly, and what to do about it, you’ll need to get inside the head of your customer. The tools for this are your eyes and ears.
Treejack, was developed in New Zealand by Optimal Workshop so has been built with a user-centered approach in mind.
It’s a tool to test the navigation structure of your website. Treejack will pinpoint the most difficult areas or items to find, based on click-trails as survey participants navigate through a prototype of your website’s structure. (the prototype is a simple ‘tree’ of text links generated from a spreadsheet you paste in… couldn’t be easier)
Treejack is a great tool, saving time and headspace, but it is no silver bullet.
You’ll get summarised and detailed outputs showing where each participant went, how directly and quickly they found set items during the survey. … but it won’t tell you how much sense it made to them, or why the tricky areas were confusing.
To design a website that’s intuitive to navigate it’s essential to understand how your customers will interact with it. There is simply no substitute for observation when it comes to gathering these insights.
Teaming Treejack up with qualitative one-on-one research makes a killer double-act bringing you the best of both worlds.
Some tips for integrating Treejack into user research sessions:
- Run a warm up exercise on a generic ‘tree’ … Clicking through a bare-bones navigation is quite abstract so this helps participants get used to the interaction style.
- Encourage participants to ‘think aloud’ while using the prototype. When you notice them pause, they’ll be thinking. Having them vocalise their experience is the closest you’ll get to knowing what’s behind their thoughts and any indecision.
- Save your questions till after each task. Interrupting the participant mid-flow can make them change their behaviour, skewing the Treejack report. Let them click through naturally then discuss it afterwards. You’ll need to rely on your note taking here.
- Have a duplicate Treejack survey open in another tab. This way you can ask participants to re-trace their steps without affecting the Treejack results.
- Ask the participants to ‘rate’ each task for how much sense it made to them etc. Treejack tells where and how they found the item, but doesn’t tell you whether this made sense to them.
- More participants, fewer tasks. As people develop a familiarity with the ‘tree’ they will start memorising where things are, making your findings less useful.
- Use your eyes. The old adage, “it’s what they do, not say” is as relevant as ever here.
I’d be interested to hear anyone elses experiences …
Go check it out at www.optimalworkshop.com/treejack.htm