Today I joined over 200 usability and user experience professionals at the 14th annual Michigan World Usability Day event at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.
One of 69 events in 22 countries around the world, the annual event was a half-day of talks focused on this year’s theme: sustainable UX.
In her Card Sorting to Improve Findability presentation, Carol Righi explained what card sorting is, how to conduct card sorting research, shared case studies, and provided practical tips for people organizing websites and applications. Here are my notes.
Getting the House in Order: Card Sorting to Improve Findability
- Card sorting is a user experience (UX) research method where users organize topics into categories that make sense to them
- It can be done as an individual or as part of a group
- “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all messed up”- A. A. Milne
— Ian Zanotti (@ian_zanotti) November 10, 2016
- Card sorting can be done with physical cards or electronically
- Advantages of electronic card sorting: users can drag and drop. The UX researcher can analyze results with cluster analysis tool.
- How to conduct a card sort/IA validation
- Do card sorting early in your project to create a great foundation
- When users complain they can’t find anything on the website, it’s a good time to do a card sorting
- Categories should be distinct and mutually exclusive
- What do you do when you get conflicting results?
— Katie Fritz (@KatieMaeFritz) November 10, 2016
- If you need to conduct an IA validation study, use a tree testing tool like Treejack to evaluate the findability of topics in a website’s IA
- Avoid creating a “junk drawer,” a category with things that don’t fit into other categories
- What do you do when the same topic is sorted into multiple categories? Consider crosslinking (duplicating a link in the IA).
- Use crosslinking sparingly, it can muddy the structure of the site or web app. Instead include the link in a call out or text elsewhere directing the user to related content and products.
- Develop guidelines for crosslinking
- Creating a good IA requires gathering data, applying thoughtful analysis, and validating
- How to recruit participants for card sorting:
- Identify the group and characteristics
- Use a screening survey (Survey Monkey or something similar)
- Advertise the study, ask prospective participants to complete the screener survey
- Need more info about card sorting? Check out Righi’s white paper Card Sort Analysis Best Practices.
- Another great resource for card sorting is Donna Spencer’s book Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories
— Tylor Hoekstra (@Tylor_Hoekstra) November 10, 2016
Have you conducted card sorting? Share your experience in the comments.