Card sorting is where you let the user help design the organization of a product by giving them cards to organize in a way that makes sense to them.
This method has a design method nature, because it helps you design your product and where everything should be. The context that this should be used is when you need to help make your product flow and make sense to the user, wither it be before you release it or if your fixing the product up.
Description of the Method
"When user comprehension and meaningful categorization is critical, card sorting can help
clarify." - Martin and Hanington, Universal Methods of design
Card sorting is what you use when you want a better understanding of how your product should be organized for the user, or what makes sense to them. It involves giving them cards, and letting them place them in a certain order to help show what they are thinking. As they are doing this, you can also kind of interview them to get more information on there mindset whilst doing this.
This should be done with a small amount of people, and the subjects doing the card sorting should know somewhat about the product they are card sorting on.
Actually Doing the method
First thing you want to do is list out all the things you want in your website or think you need on note cards. You should also have blank note cards as well. Then you need to find someone to actually do the process, and they should be someone that knows somewhat about the process as I mentioned above. You also as always should have a notepad to write things down, and possibly a video camera and recorder so you can look over the data again afterwards. Also make sure you check to see if the batteries are new just in case.
When you are actually doing the method, give all the cards to the subject so they can see them. Explain whats happening exactly, and what they are supposed to do. Watch as they do it, and ask questions if you are confused or interested about something, but be careful not to accidentally sway them into doing something based off what you said. Also if they look stuck, remind them that they can make cards themselves to put in, and that you do not need all the cards for this, leaving some out is perfectly fine.
After your done, look over your notes and try to find a good way to organize your product based off the stuff you just learned.
Positives and negatives
- Good way to see another persons perspective on your product
- Lets you find out how people expect it to flow
- Gets your product easier to understand
- Can take awhile
- Many people can have many different opinions on this.
Tips and Tricks
- Have blank cards for subjects to write on to fill spots you don't have
- Try not to lead the subject on to do something
- Ask questions as you go, and remind them they can make write out spots if they do not have them
- Can use this to fix an existing product as well as a new one.
- Its fine if the subject does not use all the cards, it can show what is unnecessary.
Project Class/Methods Madness we used it for
This was one of the methods we only did in class due to not having time to do an actual project for it. We did it on a art website, and I kind of remember not completely understanding what I was supposed to be writing down on the cards. I ended up putting down way to many abstract things looking back.
For the actual card sorting session, we ended up in a three way card sort with people, and it was interesting to be on both sides of the card sort. I also remember being surprised how few cards the other groups had, and thought that maybe we did too many, our group kind of took it as a affinity/Elito type deal where you write down absolutely everything you can see and think of. It was really interesting doing it and watching it, and I saw that other people wanted more categories then less, putting only few cards under each one. They also had trouble with deciding on which card goes where, and at times argued about that fact. The overall experience was interesting.
I think this could be pretty useful, and have nothing really against, but not a lot of thoughts about it either. I kind of feel like I did with mapping, that I did not get to explore this method as much as I could have, so I do not feel that attached to it.
Though I guess it is a cool idea, and I may try doing it sometime in the future.