Card sorting is the process that takes place before Information Architecture. It is basically the sorting of any and every kind of function that your application would consist of. There are three types of card sorting: Open, Closed & Hybrid Card Sorting.It is a well-established research technique for discovering how people understand and categorize information. You can use card sorting results to group and label your website information in a way that makes the most sense to your audience.
Open, Closed & Hybrid Card Sorting
Depending on your needs, you may choose to do an open or closed card sort. They differ as follows:
- Open Card Sort: Participants are asked to organize topics from content within your website into groups that make sense to them and then name each group they created in a way that they feel accurately describes the content. Use an open card sort to learn how users group content and the terms or labels they give each category.
- Closed Card Sort: Participants are asked to sort topics from content within your website into pre-defined categories. A closed card sort works best when you are working with a pre-defined set of categories, and you want to learn how users sort content items into each category.
- Hybrid card sort: Participants sort cards into categories you give them, and can create their own categories as well
You may also choose to try a combination of the two. You could conduct an open card sort first to identify content categories and then use a closed card sort to see how well the category labels work.
Benefits of Card Sorting
Card sorting will help you understand your users’ expectations and understanding of your topics. It is often most useful once you have done some homework to find out about your users and understand your content. Knowing how your users group information can help you:
- Build the structure for your website
- Decide what to put on the homepage
- Label categories and navigation