Card sorting is a research method that ensures people looking for information can find what they need. The method involves participants arranging pieces of information, topics or pages into groups that they think relate to each other. These groups can either be pre-defined (closed sort) or created by the participant (open sort). By observing how people group related items we can understand how they think about topics to make finding information easy.
NOTE: We don't support this method on our platform just yet, but stay tuned!
When the method should be used:
Card sorting is best conducted during the very early stages of the design process when the information architecture and navigation of the product is being developed. This typically happens before starting work on any visual components such as wireframes.
How should we design our product structure and navigation?
How do users think about and group information?
What parts of the product should we put close together and what should be far apart?
Simple and quick method to understand mental models
Easy way to ensure the underlying structure and navigation of the product is right
No design artifacts will interfere with the results
Ignores that users will be focused on achieving a task when they use the product
Lacks any ability to assess how visuals support with navigation
Analysis can take time, especially with large or complex data sets