Closed card sorts

What is it

Card sorting is a user research technique that involves asking participants to organize a set of items (often represented on cards) into categories that make sense to them. There are two main types of card sorting: open card sorts and closed card sorts.

When to use it

closed card sorts are best suited for testing and validating specific category structures. In a closed card sort, participants are presented with a pre-defined set of categories and asked to place the items into the appropriate categories. This can be a useful technique for evaluating the effectiveness of an existing category structure or for identifying areas where users might have difficulty finding content.

If you’re looking for your users to define the categories, you may want to use an open card sort. But you can also do a closed card sort with the ability for users to define categories for things they can match. Or where you observe they would have chosen an option not present.

How to do it

  1. Define the goal of your card sort: Do you want to understand how users might organize the content on your website? Are you trying to come up with categories for a product catalog? Clearly defining the goal of your card sort will help you create a set of cards that are relevant to your needs.
  2. Create your cards: These should be individual pieces of content, such as website pages or products, that you want to organize. You can write the content directly on the cards or create labels to stick on the cards.
  3. Find and recruits your participants: You’ll need a group of people to participate in the card sort. These should be representative of your target audience, so try to include people with a range of characteristics (e.g., different ages, backgrounds, and experiences).
  4. Set up the card sort: You can conduct a card sort in person or online. If you’re doing it in person, you’ll need a large table or other surface to spread out the cards. If you’re doing it online, you can use a tool like OptimalSort or UserTesting.
  5. Explain the task: Let your participants know what you’re trying to accomplish with the card sort and how they can help. Tell them that they should arrange the cards into groups that make sense to them and give each group a name.
  6. Observe and take notes: As participants work on the card sort, make sure to observe what they’re doing and take notes on their decisions. You can also ask them to explain their reasoning for organizing the cards in a particular way.
  7. Analyze the results: After the card sort is complete, review the groups that participants created and look for patterns. These patterns can help you understand how people think about your content and suggest ways to organize it.
  8. Share your findings:

Related techniques

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