Information Architecture Research Case Studies

See short case studies of our work running card sorting, tree testing and first click testing studies.

Featured Story:

Improving a financial site’s findability by 75%


The marketing team at a Fortune 500 financial firm was launching a high-profile microsite. Their proposed site architecture was based largely on intuition.


We worked with the team to conduct a card sort with 55 users organizing 75 pieces of content. We ran both moderated and unmoderated sessions.


The analysis allowed us to generate a new IA that outperformed the original IA by 75% in quantitative tree testing with 900 participants and 18 tasks.

Card Sorting + Tree Testing

From 11 tabs to 5: simplifying an enterprise support site

  • An enterprise company with over 3 million customers wanted to reduce costly support calls. To help, an IT product team was redesigning the navigation for the customer service site.
  • We ran a card sort with 27 users and 50 cards representing top destination pages — and dug into web analytics data. Then we drafted a new IA that we iterated through 10 rounds of tree testing.
  • The team reduced top-level tabs from 11 to 5, overhauled the Quick Links, and relabeled many links. Before-and-after quantitative testing showed notable improvements in task completion rates and times.

First Click Testing

Getting a single-sign-on dashboard right after 9 iterations

  • An enterprise company was launching a single-sign-on dashboard that listed all of a customer’s products on a single page. Multiple teams were stuck debating layout, navigation, and link labels.
  • We ran 3 rounds of A/B/C click testing — 2 with wireframes, 1 with visual mocks. For each design, we combined qualitative (3 users, 18 tasks) with quantitative testing (100 users, 6 tasks).
  • After iterating through 9 page variations, the team settled on a much simpler IA and UX design that performed better across core tasks.

Tree Testing

How Smithsonian caught navigation issues while they were easy to fix

  • As the world’s largest museum and research complex, the Smithsonian faces a daunting challenge with any website it runs: how to make so much information easy to find? 
  • Early in a redesign of its Global site, we helped identify 9 critical user tasks. We then took the draft site map and ran a navigation tree test with 10 users.
  • Vague category names and overlapping content caused users to struggle on 6 of the 9 tasksYet by testing early in the process, the team had time to create a more intuitive site architecture prior to launch.

Card Sorting

Redesigning an e-commerce site structure in 2 days

  • A global wine product retailer going through a site redesign and owed a new navigation to the developers in 2 days.
  • We recruited 10 wine enthusiasts for an online qualitative card sort. To avoid keyword matching, we used images rather than product names for the cards.
  • Based on the data, we worked with the web team to create a more intuitive site structure that went from 11 to 7 top-level categories.