A free comprehensive guide for evaluating site structures
Who indeed? Early on, we need to determine:
- Which group (or groups) of users to target (or to specifically exclude)
- How we will invite them to participate
- What incentive (if any) we’ll offer them for helping us out
Which user groups?
Most websites serve several different types of users. For example, a toy-store site may get a large number of visits from both children (the toy users) and from adults (the toy buyers). If we’re designing the tree for this site, we’ll naturally have to create a structure that works for both types of users.
This also means that we should test our tree with both types of users. The adults may be easy to recruit, but how will we get children to participate?
There may also be certain users who we don’t want to participate. If we’re designing a website only for overseas users, we don’t want domestic users cluttering our results (and wasting their own time).
For more on user groups, see Different user groups in Chapter 9.
How to recruit?
Anyone who has done user research knows that recruiting always takes a bit longer than expected, so we need to start planning this early.
The two classic ways to recruit for online studies are:
- Email – using lists of existing and/or prospective customers
- Web ads – invitations posted on our website and/or other related sites
Other methods include commercial research panels and crowd-sourcing sites like Amazon Mechanical Turk.
If we are targeting more than one user group, or if participants are hard to come by, we may need to try a variety of methods.
For more on recruiting methods, see Chapter 9 - Recruiting participants.
Will we offer an incentive?
In most cases, yes. We offer incentives in the vast majority of our studies. Even a modest incentive makes it much easier to get good numbers in a short time, which is a godsend to iterative testing.
We have conducted a few studies where we didn’t offer an incentive, but those are special cases.
Because we’re only asking for 5-10 minutes of a person’s time, it’s usually not worth it to reward each participant. Instead, we offer them a chance to win something they value (e.g. “5-minute survey – win $300 in groceries!”).
If we’re working for a government agency or a large organization, we may need to decide on an incentive early on, because of the lead time needed to get it approved by management.
For more on incentives, see Offering incentives in Chapter 9.
Next: When will we test?