# Card Sorting

# Phase: 🛠️ Problem solving
Focus: Test


Time commitment: 1 hour per user
Difficulty: Easy (but consider difficulty of recruiting users)
Materials needed: A collection of content listed on cards, users, location (physical or virtual), interviewer/notetaker/notetaking tools (if moderated), testing mechanism/platform (if unmoderated)
Who should participate: User experience designers, users from a variety of technical and cultural perspectives (the more of these, the more useful)
Best for: Understanding how different types of users organize concepts and information

# About this tool

Card sorting is a helpful tool for organizing anything into user-defined hierarchies of importance, preference or any other kind of sequence. While it's often used to help initially prioritize navigational elements (sometimes followed up by tree testing), it can be used to explore anything from broad concepts to specific content items to actionable tasks. Card sorting is usually performed with one user at a time, but it also works in small groups — just keep in mind that the group setting will dilute the expressed preferences of individuals. (Also, when recruiting for card sorting exercises, remember that you may need more participants for this type of test than for other, more straightforward ones like A/B tests; because you're asking individuals to do something quantitative — sorting — based on something qualitative — an initial gut reaction — you'll see more statistical noise then usual.)

Card sorts can be performed effectively in an unmoderated setting; just remember that if you want to dig deeper into the whys, you'll have better luck testing using a moderator. In a moderated setting, save your "why" questions until the end to avoid the test subject overthinking in the initial sort.

Cart sorting can be either open or closed. In an open card sort, you give the user the deck of cards and then ask them to separate the cards into whatever categories make the most sense to them. Then, you ask the user to label those categories and, if you're in a moderated test, follow up with why they placed cards in the categories they did.

In a closed card sort, you give the users both the deck of cards and a list of categories that you define. Then, if you're in a moderated test, follow up with why they placed cards in the categories they did.