Method Overview

Tree Testing​

Assess the logic of your user journey​ and build user friendly navigation and information categories, both crucial for adoption​

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Evaluative method
Suggested Time

Depends on the definition of your research question, screening and organization of logistics, as well as final analysis.

Required Expertise



Reporter tools (notebook, pen, camera, recording device)​


Sample to be observed, observer, field assistants (if applicable)​

Must Have
This method can be applied to all types of innovations.


In a tree test, participants are presented with a text-only version of the site’s hierarchy and asked to complete a series of tasks. Tree testing gives real-world insights that help understanding where your users will expect to find content on the website or application.


It is usually done early in the design phase, after an information architecture has been build (usually based on the results of Card Sorting)

How much time

1-2 days of preparation and testing time (up to 20 mins per test) – in remote tests, you can have many parallel testing sessions and save a lot of time.


Tree testing is used to evaluate the hierarchy and findability of topics in a website or app. It’s an effective way of gaining insights into users’ mental models, often used in combination with Card Sorting.


Up to 50 participants is a repeatedly recommended number for remote tests, of course this is more difficult if you do in person tests. Sometimes a higher number of test participants that are not decidedly part of your target group can bring you better results than 5 participants actually representing it. In an ideal scenario, do both. Apart from the testers, a test moderator and design/programming team to define research question and related tasks will be needed.

Why it’s useful

Quick – easy to recruit for and parallel testing is possible
Straightforward results: percentage of people able to complete the task on time
Cost effective

Potential challenges

Can only evaluate information architecture (organization and labelling), no feedback on overall usability of your site
Tree Testing does not capture the full context of user behavior since it mainly aims at behavioral data (e.g. not why people cannot find their way on their website)

Is this for you?

Get step-by-step guidance, expert tips and best practice examples for effective Tree testing.

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