I'm conducting some tree tests, and I'm wrestling with if it's ever okay to use keywords in the task that are present in the tree. I know the general advice is NO, but I'm having a hard time phrasing my tasks without them.

2 of my tasks have the keywords that are present on the second level of the tree. I'm interested to see what avenue the go down first and then see what happens if they get lost.

If anyone is curious, here is the results of one of the tasks. You can see that even though the keywords are pretty obvious, participants still had trouble finding the "correct" answer according to the current IA.

Popular answers for adding a new project

1 Answer 1


When I've run into this same dilemma I came to the conclusion that the term was in the question and the taxonomy because it's the right term. Trying to find an unfamiliar term to "follow the rules" is counter-productive.

Take this for example:

Q: How would you brew yourself a hot dark beverage?

| BrewMaster 1.0 <make coffee>|

^ That does a great job of not "leading" the test subject ... but it fails the "think like the user" rule.

Despite the duplication, this is more inline with users' mental model:

Q: How would you make coffee?

| BrewMaster 1.0 <make coffee>|

IOW, as long as you aren't leading the subject toward your proprietary terminology, then it's okay. To validate the assumption about accepted terms, do a bit of preliminary research with the target group.

  • 1
    Thanks for the comment. You articulated what was kind of running through my head but I couldn't explain it. In the example I posted, why try to find another way to say "project" when "project" is simply the best term. Besides, users are most likely to be thinking about a project rather than "I need to find a way to collect tasks into a single collection." Nov 24, 2015 at 20:12

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