Why can't I select some of the tree branches (nodes) in my tree as the correct answers for my tasks?

An easy mistake to make when using Treejack is to misunderstand what's being assessed.

Treejack is designed for testing information architecture, not a site map. While they're definitely related, the way your pages are organized is not the same thing as the way your content is organized.

If you're asking this question, you probably need to shift your perception from testing pages to testing content.

Consider the tree node you want to select as a correct answer. It's likely that the reason you want to select it as a correct answer fits into one of these two categories:

  • everything in the group is correct
  • the page contains the answer but it has children

Everything in the group is correct

If it's because the node and any child of that node is correct, then one solution is to simply remove all child nodes from that node in your tree - for the purposes of your testing, the path ends at that node.

As an example, consider a product taxonomy for an auction site like eBay. If you set a task to find golf clubs, and you decide the category "Golf" is the correct answer, there is no need to further include "Drivers" and "Irons" etc. as child nodes.

Alternatively, you could get more specific with your tasks, and ask participants to find a five iron.

The page contains the answer but it has children

This is usually because the node represents a landing page of some kind linking to further content on other pages, and it is this page which contains the content you consider the correct answer for a task. Because it has children, it can't be selected as the correct answer for a task. The solution is to explicitly include the piece of content you consider the answer as a leaf child of the "header" node in the tree.

As an example, consider our sister company Optimal Usability's contact page. On the site map, it looks like this:

Contact

But the structure of the content is actually

Contact
    Wellington office
        Map
    Auckland office
        Map

But now you can't select "Wellington office" as a correct answer. This is because when you add children to "Wellington office", it no longer reflects a piece of content, but instead a container for content. To better reflect how the content is structured, you could build the tree like this:

Contact
    Wellington office
        Contact information
        Map
    Auckland office
        Contact information
        Map

the thing to keep in mind with Treejack is that leaves represent pieces of content, rather than pages. Intermediate (non-leaf) nodes are just group headings, rather than pages or content themselves. A piece of content is the answer to a task. Pages (and more specifically, nodes with children) are merely the categories the content has been placed under.