Illustration

Card Sorting

What is card sorting?

Card sorting is a user-centered design technique used to help design or reorganize a website or other product by allowing users to organize content into categories that make sense to them.

In a card sorting exercise, the designer or researcher creates a set of cards, each containing a piece of content or an idea. Users are then asked to sort the cards into categories that make sense to them. The categories and the relationships between the cards can provide insight into how users think about the content and can help the designer create a more intuitive and user-friendly product.

There are two main types of card sorting: open and closed. In an open card sort, users create their own categories and assign the cards to those categories. In a closed card sort, the designer provides a set of predefined categories and the user sorts the cards into those categories.

Card sorting can be conducted in person or online, and can be useful in a variety of contexts, including website design, information architecture, and content strategy.

What are the different types of card sorting?

There are two main types of card sorting: open and closed.

  1. Open card sorting: In an open card sort, users create their own categories and assign the cards to those categories. This type of card sorting can be useful for discovering how users naturally group and label content and can help identify common themes and patterns.
  2. Closed card sorting: In a closed card sort, the designer provides a set of predefined categories and the user sorts the cards into those categories. This type of card sorting can be useful for testing specific organization schemes or for comparing different organizational structures.

There are also several variations of card sorting, including:

  1. Physical card sorting: Physical card sorting involves creating physical cards that users can sort and rearrange.
  2. Online card sorting: Online card sorting involves using a digital tool to conduct the card sort remotely. This can be useful for reaching a wider audience or for conducting the sort more efficiently.
  3. Modified card sorting: Modified card sorting involves making slight modifications to the standard card sorting process, such as providing additional guidance or constraints to the users. This can be useful for testing specific hypotheses or for adapting the process to fit the needs of a specific project.

How is card sorting used in UX design?

Card sorting is a user-centered design technique that can be used in a variety of contexts, including website design, information architecture, and content strategy. It is often used to help design or reorganize a product by allowing users to organize content into categories that make sense to them.

In UX design, card sorting can be used to:

  1. Discover how users naturally group and label content: By allowing users to create their own categories in an open card sort, designers can gain insight into how users think about the content and can create a more intuitive and user-friendly product.
  2. Test specific organization schemes: Closed card sorting can be used to test specific organization schemes or to compare different organizational structures. This can help designers determine which approach is most effective at helping users find and understand the content.
  3. Create a clear and logical information architecture: Card sorting can help designers create a clear and logical information architecture that is easy for users to navigate and understand.
  4. Improve the findability of content: By organizing content into categories that make sense to users, card sorting can help improve the findability of content and make it easier for users to locate the information they need.

Overall, card sorting is a valuable tool for helping designers create products that are intuitive, easy to use, and well-organized.

How to improve your card sorting skills?

There are several steps you can take to improve your card sorting skills:

  1. Learn the principles of card sorting: Familiarize yourself with the principles of card sorting and understand the different types of card sorting (open, closed, etc.).
  2. Understand the needs of your users: It is important to understand the needs and goals of your users when conducting a card sort. This will help you create cards that are relevant and meaningful to them, and will help you create categories that make sense for them.
  3. Plan your card sort carefully: A well-designed card sort starts with a clear plan for how the sort will be conducted. Be sure to consider factors such as the number of cards, the number of categories, and how the results will be analyzed.
  4. Use appropriate tools: There are many tools and resources available to help you conduct card sorting exercises, both online and in person. Be sure to choose the right tool for your needs and be familiar with how to use it.
  5. Evaluate the results carefully: Once the card sort is complete, be sure to carefully evaluate the results. This may involve analyzing the categories that users created, identifying patterns and trends, and considering the practical implications of the results.
  6. Continuously improve your skills: Card sorting is a skill that can be improved through practice. As you gain experience with card sorting, be sure to continually learn from your successes and failures and look for ways to improve your approach.

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