Tools We Use: OptimalWorkshop (OptimalSort & Treejack)
Feb 24, 2016
I was already a huge fan of OptimalWorkshop (OW) before Andrew Mayfield, the CEO, was kind enough to respond to me on Twitter. (Humble Brag! But seriously, you should watch that video) The New Zealand-based company is a provider of web-based User Experience testing applications. Many companies are guilty of being bad at the very thing their service or product is supposed to help others be really good at. OW is not one of them. They care about user experience in every aspect of their business. And perhaps most importantly, they treat people like people (their customer service people are very personable and helpful).
Here at Centerline we use a couple of tools created by OW on a regular basis. Namely, OptimalSort and Treejack, which are used for Card Sorting and Tree Testing, respectively. OW also provides two other products, which we are eager to test on new projects in the future, Chalkmark (for First Click Testing) and Reframer (for Qualitative Research). We’ll report back on those last two at a later date.
Let’s take a look at OptimalSort.
Designing, distributing, and analyzing card sort tests has never been easier. Say you’ve reached a point in developing a new primary navigation for a website and now you want to test it. Simply log in to OptimalSort and click “New Card Sort.” You’ll be presented with this wonderfully simple, uncluttered interface:
OW allows you to upgrade via either a monthly or yearly subscription ($109/month or $990/year) or you can choose to pay per test at $149 each. It’s worth the money, but if you don’t need the extra features then you can certainly run a test for free. Upgrading will allow you to:
- Password protect your test
- Define the number of participants you want to limit the test to (it’ll be unlimited otherwise)
- Create tests with more than 30 cards
- Remove the welcome and introduction messages from the test experience (you can still modify them if you don’t upgrade)
- Create a redirect URL to send people to once they’ve completed your test
- Add a custom logo and color-scheme to your test
Creating cards and categories is a breeze, and of course you can select whether you’d prefer an open, closed, or hybrid test. You can also create a custom welcome message that people see when they first load the test, followed by an introduction message that’s also editable. There’s a thank you message at the end as well, because remember, it’s important to treat people like people. 🙂
While your test is live you can view and analyze the results in real-time. OptimalSort gives you full control over your data and provides you with some helpful analysis options such as a standardization grid, similarity matrix, dendogram, or participant-centric analysis. Of course you can download or share data in any of those forms. It even provides an analysis spreadsheet for you to use, based on the work of Donna Spencer from Rosenfeld Media.
Overall, I absolutely love OptimalSort as a card sort solution. There used to be a couple things that I didn’t like, but they don’t exist anymore… because OW listens to its users and iterates on its products accordingly.
As a UX practitioner, what’s not to love?
What about Treejack?
Treejack is a tree testing tool. It makes it incredibly easy to input your theorized Information Architecture or navigation schema into the tool and write tasks for people to complete. As you can see, Treejack has an amazingly simple interface that is, of course, perfectly consistent with OptimalSort.
Creating a tree structure is very simple.
Once you’ve created your tree structure, simply write the tasks you’d like to see people complete and define which parts of your tree structure are considered the “correct” destination(s) for each task. All of the other options for the test are the same as OptimalSort, so I’ll spare you the redundancy.
Once your test is live, you can start viewing the results by clicking “Results.”” The overview tab gives a fantastic snapshot of how your tree structure is performing.
My favorite part of analyzing Treejack results is viewing the “pietree” for each task. A pietree shows you all of the paths that people took in response to the task in a tree format. Each node of the tree is a pie chart that tells you how many people moved to the next node successfully or unsuccessfully, backtracked to that node, or nominated that node as their final destination. Pietrees are really great tools for visually communicating to your team or your clients about how well a certain task performed.
For example, this task performed very well. You can tell because it has what I like to call a “very strong arm.” In other words, the path that most people took was the correct path.
Treejack is a fantastic tree test solution. I would try to come up with some facets to grade it on, but it would just score a perfect 10 in every category.
Pros (For both OptimalSort and Treejack):
- Simple, easy-to-use interface
- Fully customizable, brandable (for a small price)
- Excellent customer support
- Easy-to-share results (password protection available)
- Recruitment aid services available
- Automatic results analysis
*Seriously, can’t think of one!
Thanks for reading! Chat me on Twitter @geoffmackey if you want to learn more.