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Designing for humans: Why UX research matters.

That’s what we consider ourselves here at Volum8.

Yes, we do web design and web application design. We build creative strategies and strong brands, but our focus with each of those services is to solve a problem.

Through proper research, insights, and strategy, we craft solutions for our clients to solve their problems in meaningful, long-lasting, and sustainable ways. This practice isn’t always easily accomplished; however, with the right tools and insights, we can achieve great things.

“There was no clear rational reason why anything was up there.”
– M.S., Marketing Director, Hudson Heritage Federal Credit Union

When Hudson Heritage Federal Credit Union came to us to redesign their website, we knew it would take an involved approach to find the solution. Their current website was a mammoth, with no clear identification of where to find meaningful and relevant information visitors wanted. To cut through the clutter and identify what content was useful, we printed out every page of the website and taped them to our walls.

After a whole roll of tape, close to 100 sheets of paper (recycled), and an unbelievable amount of coffee (shout out to Glenn Edith Coffee Roasters), we drafted a new site architecture. We moved pages around, consolidated content, and slashed any unnecessary pages containing duplicate or irrelevant content. Now we just needed to make sure our new layout made sense to the average user.

Card sorting


Without proper UX research and strategy, a good idea means nothing. You can create an amazing, beautifully designed website; but if the user can’t find what they are looking for, it’s useless. We had a rough draft for the new site architecture; now we needed to justify our decision with user testing. By administering card sorting and tree testing studies, we were able to do just that.

Card sorting helped us to identify where a user would expect to find important pieces of information on the website. Users were given the names of products, services, and tools offered on the website and asked to place them under the category they would expect to find them. This study is perfect for iterating a good main navigation. It turns out we weren’t that far off in the initial placement of most pages, but we did realize that a few pieces of content should be accessible from multiple pages on the site. Armed with this knowledge we were able to rework the sitemap.

Tree testing


After making some minor adjustments based on the card sorting results, we turned to tree testing to test our sitemap decisions. Since we already knew that there were only three reasons a user was coming to the website, we wanted a straightforward navigation with only three options. Users were now given tasks to find specific information on the website. They had to navigate through the menu and select the page that they thought would contain the information needed to complete the task. Not only could we see how many people were able to find the correct page, but we could also see what other sections of the website a user visited before landing on the correct page. Following the path of a user gave us a peek into their thought process–allowing us to understand what keywords and labels to use when finalizing the site’s architecture.

“It was very apparent through research that people were not staying there and couldn’t find what they were looking for… it was a bad user experience.”
– M.S., Marketing Director, Hudson Heritage Federal Credit Union

This study helped reduce the number of clicks and frustration a user would experience when using the finished site. With the data provided by the tree test, we were able to make sure all the menu labels, page titles, and headers were easy to understand by all users.


Proper UX design requires in depth research to understand how a user expects to use a website. Card sorting and tree testing are two great tools to help website designers justify their sitemap decisions. Optimal Workshop gave us the tools and metrics to identify the way users will process and seek out the information on our client’s website. These insights and data also help us explain to our clients why some design ideas will work, and why some will not. Thanks to proper user experience design, Hudson Heritage Federal Credit Union has seen a 27.98% increase in average visitor session duration and an 8.34% drop in bounce rate.

Is your website in need of a redesign? Let’s get in touch!

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