20 Resources for Evaluating Website Navigation

Jeff Sauro, PhD

Navigation is at the heart of the user experience for websites, software and mobile apps.

Despite improvements in search, most users still rely on browsing as a strategy to find information or accomplish tasks.

Designing and evaluating navigation is an essential part of making a better user experience.

We’ll cover evaluating navigation in detail at the Denver UX Boot Camp. Here are 20 resources we’ll leverage.

Information Architecture

    1. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Now in its 3rd edition, this 500 page bible of IA covers the fundamentals, terms, techniques and details about IA as a profession.
    2. A glossary of IA Terms [pdf]: While the Argus website is dead, some good resources live on, including the glossary and our friend Louis Rosenfeld. Some discussions are still alive over a decade later.
    3. A Practical Guide to Assessing Web Site Organization: One of the few early and only sources for assessing the effectiveness of IA and navigation (see Tree Testing below).
    4. Information Architecture Index at University of Minnesota: A good list of blogs and resources on IA and Card Sorting.

Card Sorting

    1. 10 Things to Know about Card Sorting: If you’re new to Card Sorting, this blog is a good starting point.
    2. Card Sorting from the The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction.: Provides a comprehensive background to this popular method.
    3. Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories: This book by Donna Spencer is a comprehensive resource for getting started conducting Card Sorting.
    4. Card Sorting Definitive Guide: An earlier online lite version of Donna Spencer’s take on the subject Part 1.
    5. Card-Based Classification Evaluation: Another take on the subject from Donna…she’s a busy gal!
    6. Card Sorting Software: OptimalSort and Websort.
    7. Analyzing Card Sorting Data with a Spreadsheet: A good source to understand the mechanics from Joe Lamantia. The link to his spreadsheet is broken, Donna Spencer found a copy and I’ve uploaded it to our server[xls].
    8. Sample Size for Card Sorting from Tullis & Wood [pdf]: One of the only studies examining the issues of how many users to test.
    9. Card Sorting Analysis Spreadsheet: Donna’s own Excel companion to the book with instructions and examples.
    10. Card Sorting Analysis Best Practices [pdf]: This recent article in the Journal of Usability Studies provides some updated insights.
    11. A Group Method of Card Sorting: This journal article discusses a method called the modified Delphi services. I’m always a bit hesitant to collect data from groups, but see if this method fits your situation.

Tree Testing

  1. Using Tree-Testing To Test Information Architecture:  Closed Card Sorting is often recommended for evaluating navigation structures. We’ve found, like others, that a better method is conducting a Tree Test, which surprisingly has only been around for 4 years.
  2. Webinar on Testing Website Navigation: We walk through a case study combining Card Sorting and Tree testing using Target.com’s navigation.
  3. Card Sorting + Tree Testing: The Science of Great Site Navigation: A detailed discussion and Q&A around using both Card Sorting and Tree Testing.
  4. Tree Testing, A Quick Way to Evaluate Your IA: Probably the first description of the method of Tree Testing.
  5. Tree Testing Software: Optimal Workshop’s Treejack and MUIQ.
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