Card Sorting

Designing Usable Categories

By Donna Spencer

  • Paperback + Ebooks
  • Card Sorting Cover
  • Card sorting is an effective, easy-to-use method for understanding how people think about content and categories. It helps you create information that is easy to find and understand. In Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories, Donna Spencer shows you how to plan and run a card sort, analyze the results, and apply the outcomes to your projects.

    This book is a fresh, clear, practical explanation of the value of card-sorting, how to do it, and how to use the results. Spencer mixes step-by-step instructions and good examples with just enough theory. You’ll emerge from this book with new skills to create great user-centered information architectures–and smart responses to tricky questions from pesky stakeholders.

    Tamara Adlin, Founding Partner, Fell Swoop, and co-author of The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design

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    Illustrations View all on Flickr

    • CS000a: Front Cover
    • CS000b:  Back Cover
    • CS001: Figure 1.1
    • CS002: Figure 1.2
    • CS003: Figure 1.3
    • CS004: Figure 1.4
    • CS005: Figure 1.5
    • CS006: Figure 2.1

    Card Sorting Blog View all Blog posts

    Table of Contents

    • Chapter 1: All About Card Sorting
    • Chapter 2: All About Organizing
    • Chapter 3: Defining the Need
    • Chapter 4: Choose the Method
    • Chapter 5: Choose the Content
    • Chapter 6: Choose the People
    • Chapter 7: Make the Cards
    • Chapter 8: Manage the Sort
    • Chapter 9: Use Exploratory Analysis
    • Chapter 10: Use Statistical Analysis
    • Chapter 11: Use What You’ve Learned


    These common questions about card sorting and their short answers are taken from Donna Spencer’s book Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

    1. I wrote our content on cards/sticky notes and our team shuffled it around to create the IA. That’s a card sort, isn’t it?
      Not really. That’s just shuffling content ideas around the table (which is still useful, just not really a card sort). I think the essential element to something being a card sort is that it involves real users of your information.
      See Chapter 1 for more information on what a card sort involves. 
    2. I need to test that my draft information architecture is okay. Should I do a closed card sort?
      A closed card sort is where you ask people to slot content into a set of categories that you