Card sorting



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The point of card sorting research

In Ergomania’s practice during card sorting research, the lead moderator passes out pre-created content cards to participants and asks them to organize and group the cards according to how they see the content as manageable and comprehensible.

Card sorting research can be done individually or in groups, and with proper moderation it provides a great opportunity to understand user motivations and to collect qualitative research data. Research participants are free to create, name and rename clusters, so the end result is a website that is structured for the users.

Although card sorting does not necessarily define the final page/application structure, as other aspects play a role there, it still clarifies a lot of questions before even a line of code is written.


Card sorting research at Ergomania

During card sorting, we search for and find answers to UX and website structure design questions such as:

  • In what ways do users want to see the information grouped?
  • How similar or different the needs of each user group are?
  • How many main- and subcategories can the information be reasonably organized into?
  • What should be the names of the categories?


The main methods of card sorting research

In Ergomania, we employ two types of card sorting research:

  1. Open card sorting when participants are free to sort, group content cards, and
  2. Closed card sorting when the main groups are predetermined, and we just have to name them.

The first method is recommended for use with a system under design, and the second type is recommended for content expansion or usability testing of an existing page. Both types can be performed by one participant or by a user group.

Moreover, research can even be done digitally today, which allows progress to be made during quarantine. The advantage of the digital interface is that many more people have access to the cards. Digital card sorting research can also be done at Optimalworkshop, UXTweak, Usabilitest, or Miro, for example. In the case of the latter, live moderation can also be arranged, so it resembles a real interview or workshop even better.

Card sorting research, in our experience, is most effective when we already know what clients want to see on the site/application and have the content ready – but at least provide us with a detailed list of content (for new sites).


What do our clients gain from card sorting research?

When a client requests a card sorting research, they gain the following advantages over their competitors:

  1. Cost-effectiveness: card sorting research is easy and quick to implement
  2. Simplicity: can be done with a pen and a few sheets of paper
  3. Immediate result: the research does not require long preparation and the result is ready fairly soon
  4. Proven: used all over the world for more than ten years
  5. It is based on real experience: the results of the research are published by real feedback from actual users.

The biggest advantage for our clients is the result of a thorough research, as the feedback and suggestions received during the research come from real users, showing the client what the ideal content structure and structure of a website or application would be like.


What is the role of our clients in card sorting research?

In card sorting research, it is extremely important that real users participate in the research, so we definitely expect our clients to cooperate in this regard.

In addition, we need to know what the structure of the future or existing website or application is like, and of course we need to know the content itself or the content element, which will then be included in the research.


The result of successful card sorting research

The end result of the card sorting research will be a tagged, grouped, and sorted information structure providing the target audience of the website or application information in an interpretable form and order.

The resulting structured set of information can then be used to improve the website or service, such as organizing a product range for a webshop, grouping for a QA session, or redesigning a diversely complex website.

  • Information from client: Access to current information architecture
  • Client cooperation: Providing and rewarding participants
  • Deliverables: An information architecture that meets user expectations in its names and structure