A free comprehensive guide for evaluating site structures

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 "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln


We may be testing an existing tree (e.g. the structure of our existing site) or trying out some new trees (revised, or completely rethought) to see how well they work.

In either case, our tree will need to be prepared for testing. In many cases, this is just a matter of minor housekeeping (importing the tree into a spreadsheet, excluding certain headings like “Search”, and so on), but sometimes we need to make some bigger decisions about our tree (e.g. whether to prune a large tree).

In this chapter, we’ll cover everything we need to consider when preparing a tree for testing.


Working in an electronic format

Using a spreadsheet or text file, sourcing the content, using the right format

Which part of the tree?

How to cut big trees down to size for testing

Which headings to include/exclude?

Global nav, footer links, utility links, etc.

Spotting missing content

Content that doesn't have a page of its own might be missed

Dealing with shortcuts and duplicated content

Handling topics that appear in more than one place

Breaking up double-level topics

Handling multi-level navigation (e.g. mega menus)

Using link names instead of page titles

Link names represent the nav better than page titles do

What to call “Home”

In certain cases, "Home" may cause problems

Transferring the tree to a testing app

Sanitizing text, importing to a tool, and randomizing subtopics

Key points

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