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Card Sorting

Designing Usable Categories 

Published: April 2009 Paperback: 162 pages, ISBN 1-933820-02-0 Digital: ISBN 1-933820-07-1

by Donna Spencer

Card Sorting

The ultimate guide to one of the under-appreciated user research methods in our toolbox. Whether you work on small web sites or in large corporate environments, this book is just the right size to give you everything you need to know to be a pro at card sorting."

—Keith Instone, Information architecture lead, user experience

Card sorting helps us understand how people think about content and categories. Armed with this knowledge, we can group information so that people can better find and understand it.

In this book, Donna describes how to plan and run a card sort, then analyse the results and apply the outcomes to your project.

Why should you buy this book?

  • You'll be able to gain the basics quickly and get sorting straight away
  • Your designs will be better and you'll have more confidence in the outcomes by including card sorting in your projects
  • Even if you have conducted a card sort before, the book will contain plenty of extra tips to make the most of the technique

“Card Sorting” Blog

Card sorting analysis: a co-occurrence matrix

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. Mike Rice’s card sorting co-occurrence matrix.

New articles and resources

It’s been a while since I had a good look around for new articles on card sorting. Here’s some recent ones. Thorough overviews Card sorting ( Card sorting (Usability Body of Knowledge) Detailed examination of one aspect Online or offline card sorting? (Optimal Workshop) Online card sorting – even better than the real thing? (UX …


All about card sorting: An interview with Donna Spencer

Card sorting doesn’t cut the custard

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 …

Inviting the guests to cook the food

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 …