$1B Info Architecture


Cabela’s (and Cabelas.com) were merging with Bass Pro Shops. In preparation, the design team dove deep into various aspects of our site including persona-driven journey maps for various tasks, cart experience, check-out efficiency, and guest vs. logged-in flows. This case study is about our information architecture research.


  • Every step and iteration of the research design needed to be approved in total before any research could get started.
  • All 250 million SKUs needed to be represented in one exercise that would take users less than 45 minutes to complete.
  • There was a strong desire to test the top level IA and each department’s IA at the same time and in the same test.


Toni Rosati – Lead Researcher
Rich Warnaka – Design Manager
Mark Conde – Lead Designer

Process, Research Design

Tree Testing:

  1. Create excel file of our current information architecture for tree testing.
  2. Create meaningful tasks for users to complete for the tree test. 10 items needed to be generalizable for the millions of products we offer.
  3. Work with the marketing department to get Optimal Workshop tree testing link out to the public.

Card Sort:

  1. Deep dive into purchase analytics to see which products to select to represent 250 million SKUs. We took a wide variety of most popular and least popular items.
  2. Cluster, refine, and generalize the products selected to maximize the time with our tester.
  3. Test the card sort test.
  4. Recruit users from our local Cabela’s store to complete the card sort activity.

Key Findings

Cabela’s customers resonated with sorting products by activity (fishing, hunting, boating, etc.). However, Cabela’s offers so many products that either overlap multiple categories or do not fit into a sporting activity that users had a hard time coming up with a generalized structure for top level categories. Invariably, each user that completed a card sort activity had a “catch-all” folder for leftover items.

Our Tree Jack test showed that 3 out of 10 items often failed to be located where users expected them. I followed up with a First Click heatmap test to try to gather more information. It seems that with the user views the activity structure in terms of their own experiences and preferences, so a hunter will look for binoculars in hunting and a camper will look in camping. There is also a hot spot for people that will go directly to the “Bargain Bin” for products on sale only.

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Some changes were made to the information architecture, but the top level structure did not change immediately. The research was submitted to Bass Pro Shops for review because it was ultimately their decision post-merger.

The research did uncover many minor mistakes throughout the site that were corrected.

Even though a major redesign was not triggered, I’m honored to have worked on the IA for a website that produces $1 Billion in revenue every year.

Copy of IA project flow
Process to conduct Top Level and Department Level information architecture research.


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