Card sorting is used to create products that are easy to use and intuitive to navigate.
Card sorting is a research technique that informs the design of navigation structures. During the technique, content is organised by users in ways that are intuitive to them. It also provides insight into how users think about, and make sense of, content.
Card sorting is an evidence based method for informing navigation & content structure
A card sorting activity is carried out with a typical selection of content from a website or from within a product. Each piece of content is written on a single card.
A group of participants who are representative of a selected product audience are then asked to organise the cards into ‘like’ groups.
After the cards have been grouped, participants give each group a label (or heading) that makes sense to them.
- An understanding of which pieces of content belong together.
- The type of language that people naturally use when referring to these groups.
For content heavy products or websites more than one sort may be needed to provide sufficient information and refine results.
A card sort can also be carried out using an online tool such as Optimal Workshop. This allows participants to complete the activity in their own time and space. It also provides efficient data collection, potentially saving time on the project.
A final validation of the structure determined by the card sort is recommended. This can be done via tree testing with participants.
Insights and reports from card sorting
Observing the factors participants consider when sorting the cards, as well as documenting the final outcomes of the activity, are key to producing a practical and useful website (or product) structure.
Final outputs of a card sort are usually a recommended navigation structure (including navigation labels) or site map. Key insights that have informed the recommendation are captured in an accompanying report.
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