You will need

cards or post-its with terms written on them

Time

15 minutes per 30 cards

People

dozens of users

Difficulty

2 – we recommend not to underestimate the final evaluation

Use when...

  • 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)

Procedure

  1. Consider what concepts are to be on your cards. These might be the topics that should be conveniently organized on a new website. 
  2. Prepare cards that are to represent individual concepts, you may also use appropriate pictures. 
  3. Users have to categorize individual concepts. You may specify the categories in advance or you can let users to create them on their own. 
  4. Let the users sort the cards either individually or in groups. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. 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

In the design phase, you can use the following methods…

Case study

A Journey to a New Library Website

The Central Library of CTU in Prague

Download the book Service Design in Libraries

It includes detailed descriptions of case studies from both the Czech Republic and Norway.

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You will always have a ready help, which will tell you how to proceed, and which tools to prepare.

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