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Chalk testing the taxonomy of your intranet

by Martyn Green on September 29, 2011

Chalk testing is a simple cost effective method of user testing the competence of your intranet’s navigation and taxonomy. By testing you can assess whether the taxonomy is effective or requires further changes.

Chalk testing involves visually recording the journey your users take to complete specific tasks by marking their route with different coloured pens. By identifying common paths of navigation you can optimise the effectiveness of your intranet structure.

This method works as follows:

  • Each participant is given a different coloured marker pen.
  • They are asked to perform a task.
  • Using a different colour pen for each task, they mark how they would find the information.

Every intranet’s content will vary, but here are some examples of tasks users may be asked to perform.

  1. Where would you find an expert?
  2. Where would you find information on an employee?
  3. Where would you go to find a policy?
  4. How do you find information about a Head of a Group?

For each task, you count how many interactions it takes to reach this information. Interactions describe the activity between a user and an interface. This could be clicking on a link or holding the cursor over an area of the page to perform a function.

The aim is for the information to be located in as few interactions as possible. For example, it may take one person one interaction to find an expert, and another person two interactions. The lower the interaction counts the better.

Chalk tests are a good way of identifying the common paths employees take to find relevant information. By conducting this exercise you will be able to test taxonomies and help your users become more productive.

Topics: 3. Function, 4. Form

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