Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Tree Jacking

I am currently working on a project to improve the navigation of the Wiggle web site. This means coming up with a hierarchy which helps our customers find the products they are looking for, helps our buyers find sensible places to put new products and with a combination of the two an improved search function. We then need to come up with an interaction which is easy to use on both desktop and mobile.

That is a lot to think about, so it is not the sort of project you can just set live without a bit of testing to make sure we have come up with something that works.

We started with a bit of card sorting to get a better understanding of how people think. And now I have had time to put that thinking into practice and come up with a new hierarchy, which we have checked internally works, we need to try it with our customers to see if it works for them too.

"You are an enthusiastic cyclist and decide you want to have a go at a fun cycle event. Where would you go to buy a ticket?"

The easiest way to do this without having to build a new website is with a tree jack. This basically takes my new hierarchy in spreadsheet format and turns it into clickable boxes. I can then write a set of questions about our products and send the link out to anyone who wants to participate to see if they can find the product within the hierarchy.

For instance one of my questions is: You are an enthusiastic cyclist and decide you want to have a go at a fun cycle event. Where would you go to buy a ticket?

In the old hierarchy only 88% of users found somewhere to buy a ticket, where in the new hierarchy 97% of users found somewhere to buy a ticket.

Of course this is not a perfect test. If customers were on a real website a mixture of the navigation but also visual clues would help them to decide if they had found the correct item while in our test they have to work on words only. This means if the words we are using do not match what they think a product is called they might not be able to find it, even using search.

Being able to test the hierarchy to this sort of detail makes me, and hopefully the business, a lot more confident about the success of the project and helps us to find problems before we make anything live. And by involving our customers in the process, through email and social media, we show them that we really do have their best interests at heart.

So far everything seems to be confirming we are going in the right direction, but there is much more testing still to come.

Do you want to try out a tree jack? This link will take you to one of mine - you do not need any sporting knowledge to do it. Thanks for your help.

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