Open 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

Open card sorts let you explore how users might naturally group and label items. In an open card sort, participants are asked to create their own categories and label them as they see fit. This can be a useful technique for understanding how users think about and organize information and can help inform the design of navigation systems or content hierarchies.

If you’re looking for your users to work with existing categories, you may want to use a closed card sort.

How to do it

  1. Identify the goal of your card sort: Clearly define what you want to accomplish with the card sort.
  2. Create your cards: These should represent individual pieces of content that you want to organize.
  3. Assemble your participants: Choose a group of people who are representative of your target audience.
  4. Set up the card sort: You can do this in person or online.
  5. Explain the task: Let participants know the goal of the card sort and how they can help. Tell them they can add their own cards to the sort if they feel something is missing.
  6. Observe and take notes: Observe participants as they work and make note of their decisions. Ask them to explain their reasoning.
  7. Analyze the results: Review the groups created and pay special attention to any cards added by participants. Look for patterns and use the results to understand how people think about your content and suggest ways to organize it.
  8. Share your findings:

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