Are you working with a large number of concepts and huge amounts of information that need to be logically organized, and are you not sure what would be the best resulting structure? Write the terms on the cards and entrust them to your users.
You will needcards or post-its with terms written on them
Time15 minutes per 30 cards
Peopledozens of users
Difficulty2 – we recommend not to underestimate the final evaluation
- you need to categorize the concepts in a way that is natural for your users
- harmonizing the information architecture of a new website
- looking for a right name for a category of concepts
Do not use when...
- having only a small number of testers available (in such case, complement it with other methods)
- Consider what concepts are to be on your cards. These might be the topics that should be conveniently organized on a new website.
- Prepare cards that are to represent individual concepts, you may also use appropriate pictures.
- Users have to categorize individual concepts. You may specify the categories in advance or you can let users to create them on their own.
- Let the users sort the cards either individually or in groups.
- You can pilot this method with a small number of users. In such case, you can take advantage of the situation and ask them some follow-up questions.
- The results obtained from a small group of users are a good starting point, but the truly conclusive results of the mental models can only be obtained after testing it on more than a couple of dozens of users.
- In a team, discuss the results of card sorting and do not forget to record the data for further analysis.
Keep in mind that...
- one concept might belong to multiple categories
- when designing a large website, your users might get lost in the number of concepts and categories − in such case, it is better to ask users to sort cards that belong only to one individual category
- this method can be both closed (providing users with a list of categories) and open (letting the users to develop their own categories) − it is more difficult to evaluate the open card sorting, it is, however, prone to provide you with more information
Find out more
- we recommend Donna Spencer’s book Card Sorting