What is card sorting?

Card sorting is a knowledge elicitation technique used to establish or assess the navigation hierarchy of a web site. The process involves asking participants to sort items into meaningful groups. The "items" are typically menu entries or hyperlinks while the "groups" are categories or headings.

“I’m very pleased with the results from the card sort – I think the recommended wireframe is a huge improvement on what we currently have.”
– Intranet Manager, Private Sector Organisation.

Why do card sorting?

Do you find yourself asking these questions about your web site or intranet?

  • How do our users expect the information to be organised and categorised?
  • What terminology and labels do they find confusing and what better terms can we use?

If so, you need to uncover your users' mental model of the information. This is what we achieve with card sorting.

Case study: Information Architecture for a large on-line help system

Our client wanted to revise its online help system. However, there was a large number of help pages (over 850) and these had grown in an ad hoc manner. To ensure the new help system achieved its expected business benefits, the content needed to be structured and organised before it was integrated into the new interface. Read card sorting case study.

When should I do card sorting?

You can do card sorting anytime. If you do it early in the design process you can build the findings into wireframes and design concepts. If you do it late in development you can assess the existing navigation framework against users' ideal.

Our approach to card sorting

  • Participants take randomly ordered cards representing pages of a web site and group the cards as they see fit. We generally test 15 participants.
  • We then carry out a cluster analysis of the results to develop tree diagrams that can be directly transformed to provide the information structure of the web site.

What do I get?

We write a concise report describing the findings and create a new navigation structure for your web site.

Why Userfocus?

We have carried out dozens of card sorts and we know what will work in your particular situation.


User Experience Research

User Experience Design

User Experience Management


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