Mike Rice has created a fantastic spreadsheet to help analyse card sorting data.
It’s a ‘co-occurrence matrix’ which means it shows how often each pair of cards were put together in the card sort.
It has full instructions on how to create it and understand what it’s showing.
It’s been a while since I had a good look around for new articles on card sorting. Here’s some recent ones.
Detailed examination of one aspect
- Online or offline card sorting? (Optimal Workshop)
- Online card sorting – even better than the real thing? (UX for the masses)
- Card sorting: online versus offline (Step Two Designs)
- Open card sort analysis 101 (UX Booth)
- 10 things to know about card sorting (Measuring Usability)
- How to know what to put where: card sorting (Jonathan Melhuish): A quick video overview
- Card sorting (ZURBword)
Using the basic technique for different things
- Prioritization card sort (Good Kickoff Meetings)
- Repeated card sorting (100 user experience (UX) design and evaluation methods for your toolkit)
- Why card sorting loves tree testing (and why tree testing feels it too) (Global User Research)
- A modified delphi approach to a new card sorting methodology (Celeste Lyn Paul)
Here’s a really good post from Zef Fugaz called Card sorting doesn’t cut the custard, where he talks about how we should make sure information is accessible in more than one way and how card sorting seems to encourage just one way.
He’s right about making information available in more than one way, but wrong in that card sorting, done well, can help identify the many ways, not just one single way.
Good comments at the end too.
I received an interesting comment today, that basically said that card sorting was a ridiculous idea and akin to “inviting the guests of a restaurant to make the food in the kitchen with the cooks”. People don’t say this to me very often, but I’m sure some think it.
Now anyone who thinks that asking users about what they think is not going to buy the book, so here are the three key points about card sorting:
- The real value in card sorting is to learn things about your users that you would not otherwise know. If you think you’ll organise your recipe website by cooking method and they think of it in terms of ingredient, you need to know this.
- Card sorting does not provide you with an ‘answer’ to how to organise information. It gives you ideas and insight into ways you may create an information architecture.
- You put together what you learn from other user research, your website goals and content analysis. You synthesise those things into a good, strong information architecture that works.
Thank you very much to Matthew Sanders for the first review of my Card sorting book. Phew – he liked it, and provided good suggestions for some things I didn’t cover.
And Matthew, there is no sequel planned. Maybe someone else can take that job on! I will, however, write articles/blog posts on things that come up as people read the book and identify what’s missing.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of becoming a published author. My book on card sorting is now available.
You can buy it right here from the website – either the printed version (plus digital) or digital alone.
Or you can get it via amazon if you are buying other things at the same time : Card sorting (Donna Spencer).
Wondering what tools are available to conduct card sorts? Have a look at these:
- Optimal Sort – Online card sorting tool. Open and closed sort, with a range of analysis options (including my analysis spreadsheet)
- Websort – Online card sorting tool with open and closed sort options. Check out the beta version for enhanced sorting and better analysis options.
- SynCaps – Windows processing and analysis software for card sorts
- XSort – Card sorting software for Mac. Free!
- UXsort – Card sorting software
You may also be interested in the following tools, not for card sorting but for testing your draft information architecture or navigation design:
- Jul 2009. Card sorting for NTEN: Behind the scenes
- Sep 2008. Drupal.org – what we learned from the card sort
- Jun 2008. Conducting a card sort
- Eurostar Card Sorting Case Study—Etre
If you have a case study you would like me to add to this page, please let me know.
Eurostar Card Sorting Case Study
In September 2005, our company—Etre—was engaged by Eurostar to help redevelop its global web presence. Eurostar is the high-speed train service that connects the UK with mainland Europe and has been named “World’s Leading Rail Service” at the World Travel Awards every year since 1998.
The project was extremely ambitious in nature—the main objectives being to make significant improvements to the usability of the company’s various websites; to introduce a host of new travel booking features; and to incorporate a new global brand identity—in a timeframe of just six months.
An important part of the programme involved assisting Eurostar in redesigning its global information architecture—a taxonomy that serves not only as the backbone of the company’s main website, www.eurostar.com, but as a template for the company’s 27 country- and region-specific websites too. In order to ensure that the redesigned version was as user-friendly as possible, we decided to make card sorting an integral part of the redevelopment process.