What Is Card Sorting?

At a Glance

Learn about card sorting, when to run a card sorting test, and how to with the UserTesting platform.

 

What Is Card Sorting?

Why Is Card Sorting Useful?

When Should You Do Card Sorting?

Card Sorting with UserTesting

 

What Is Card Sorting?

Card sorting is a research methodology that can help you discover how people understand and categorize information. In a card sort, contributors sort “cards” containing different items into groups. Card sorting has many applications—from figuring out how content should be grouped on a website or in an app to deciding how to arrange items in a retail store. 

There are three types of card sorts: open, closed, and hybrid:

  • Open card sort: contributors place items in groups and name the categories.
  • Closed card sort: contributors place items into predefined categories.
  • Hybrid card sort: contributors place items in predefined categories, and also have the option to create and name additional categories if the existing categories do not match their expectations.

Why Is Card Sorting Useful?

You can use the results of a card sort to figure out how people group and name content and information. These contributor insights can guide you when designing or assessing information architecture to ensure it’s organized in a way that makes the most sense to your audience.

When Should You Do Card Sorting?

It’s best to do a card sort when you want to understand how contributors group a specific set of items or tasks. For example, maybe you’re looking for the most logical place to insert a “Fitness Trackers” category on your online electronics store; thus you may consider a card sorting activity to see if it fits in a predetermined category, or when your customers have a better idea of where it should be placed.

Typically, a card sort is executed in the early stages of the design process. One common use case is when you’re launching a new website or app or redesigning an existing website/app, and you need to group information in the most logical way possible. In these cases, card sorting can tell you where people would expect to find a category on your site.

Card Sorting with UserTesting

To conduct a card sort with UserTesting, select the Card Sort task when creating your test plan in the UserTesting Platform. Then build out the card sort itself using the card sorting app. Contributors will think out loud as they complete the card sort, so you can observe their behavior and listen to their feedback as they work through the activity. For more information, read about setting up a card sort with UserTesting.

Note: Card sorting is not optimized for mobile.

 

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